Euro-Mediterranean Youth Platform

 
 

Testimonies » Turkey

What About Youth Life and Works in Turkey: If we discuss the positive and negative sides of the following priorities of young people who live in Turkey you may find the results which are listed below:
Rights for youth People:
 There is only one provision in the Turkish Constitution which says that young people should be protected from the consequences of unacceptable behaviour. (This not regarded as being enough)
 Within local law there is a clause that provides for a Local Council, and that there should be a Youth Parliament within the Council. (Not all cities implement this rule)
 There should be international bilateral agreements dealing with Youth Programmes. (We do not know what will happen in the future)
Tools:
 Local Youth Parliaments.
 Youth and Sport Ministry
 Training Courses, Workshops, Projects and activities which are organised for young people.
 Resources available on-line. (social networks, websites and libraries, and reports)
 Media. (Social, visual and printed media)
Areas
 Youth Parliaments.
 NGOs
 University Youth Councils
 Eurodesk
 Youth Associations
 Political parties
 Youth Clubs
Opportunities
 Grants to NGOs from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
 Grants from the Ministry responsible for EU affairs, and National Agencies.
 Grants from Youth Centres and the Governor’s Office.
 Grants from Universities to Youth Clubs.
 Municipalities and Local Government.
 Grants from NGOs and the World bank.
Support
 Grants.
 Sponsors.
 Organisations and Associations.
 NGOs.
 Development Agencies.
 International Resources.

Testimonies » Turkey
The number of young people in Turkey is very high and in recent years, with several new applications, they have become more active in NGOs. However, we still need more legislation for young people. Unfortunately there is no youth policy in Turkey, but in recent years there have been many developments in the youth sector. With the establishment of the National Agency we have a new perspective.
The young population is the most dynamic group in Turkey. The number of young people in the 12-24 age group constitutes 31% of the population in Turkey, which has a rather young population. Today, problems related to young people are among the most important subjects on the agenda. The expectations for the future of young people have been increasing gradually. The State has engaged in activities with the cooperation of national and international institutions, organisations and universities in order to determine the problems of young people, and to find solutions to these problems within the framework of the economic, social and cultural structure. Significant progress has started to be made in recent years on the subject of the organisation of young people by means of foundations, associations and youth organisations in the social and cultural fields. Services dealing with subjects such as education, health, working life and social security, as well as employment, cultural life, utilisation of free time and protection from harmful habits are provided by different ministries.
The situation of young people in my country is not perfect. Turkey’s population is nearly 75 million, and nearly half of this number is made up of young people. At the same time the economy does not sustain jobs for every young person who wants to work, so we have a high unemployment rate in Turkey. Also, young people in Turkey are very willing to accept new cultures and new friends from different countries. Young people in my country have some issues to propose to their own government, such as better standards of living, better education, a better economic situation, and more democratic rights. Therefore they are supporting Turkey’s full EU membership as soon as possible.
Turkey is one of the countries where the young population between the ages of 15 and 25 is very high. Most of the young people try to enter university, but some of them cannot go to school for economic reasons. This situation depends on the place in which they live, their region and their family. However, most of the young people want to do good things, and they are hopeful about the future. What they need is just a hand that shows them what they have to do, which opens new windows for them, and provides them with opportunities to give life to their dreams, projects, etc. After the European Youth Programme and the pilot projects of the Turkish NA there has been an increase in the number of young people willing to do good things. These activities make young people realise that they will be the leaders of tomorrow, and that they should start finding ways to change, instead of criticising.
In Turkey, young people are a large percentage of the population. New generations also have so many opportunities to integrate themselves into the world. For example, the National Agency always helps students to attend important meetings and develop new projects. I have planned a project for poor students in Turkey, as the Eastern part of Turkey is not in good condition. I have improved recycling box projects, which consist of collecting stationary in big boxes in university cafes. Generally, the Western part of the country is in a good condition, but, I cannot say the same thing for the East because terror is stopping everything. Girls are not being sent to school, and they are getting married at the age of 13. Boys are also reaching the end of their studies at a secondary level, which is not very high. This leads to non-cultured generations growing up, and the problems get bigger. In this case my project will help poor students. Families cannot be excused for not sending their children to school.
Young people in my country do not have the support they would like to have. Young people are not seen as an investment, and I really think that the information that is given to us is insufficient, which sometimes makes us go in a wrong direction. Young people in Turkey are young people who have just recently started to get information about the EuroMed Youth Programme. I believe that showing young people that there is something more besides our everyday life and job will improve their lives through getting to know people from other countries, cultures and religions, and realising that we can all co-exist and collaborate for a better future. Because it is the connection point between Asia and Europe, young people in Turkey have many things in common with other young people in European Union countries, as well as in Mediterranean countries. In general, the situation is always changing, it is not something stable. The major problem is unemployment followed by a lack of morale and goals, and then personal relationships. Young people in my country are faced with the problem of unemployment which is, here too, more acute for higher education graduates. They are not very interested in social and civic activities and for most of them social involvement is limited to their adherence to a political organisation at university. University students in Istanbul, particularly Bogazici University students, are really luckier than other students in Turkey because they learn to speak at least one foreign language, English, comfortably, and thanks to this they have a chance to participate in youth exchanges. Most of the young people nowadays study and learn more than one foreign language. They have started to get used to the idea of Europe, and they are very interested in participating in European programmes like youth exchanges. They like to travel a lot and learn about other countries and cultures. They use the Internet a lot, and almost everybody uses mobile phones. They are used to living alone when they study, in a different city in Turkey or abroad, and most of them do not continue to live alone. They prefer to get married after their studies.
The situation of young people in my country differs from place to place, but most of the young people in Turkey prefer to live in big cities because of education and working opportunities. Young people form a big part of our community. Although young Turkish people are not highly educated, they are a very open-minded generation. They are ready to make use of technological advances and keep up with new progress. Because Turkey’s economy is not very strong, however, Turkey does not give the opportunity to young people to do their best. They are facing very serious problems in our country because of the economic situation, and there is a very high percentage of emigration of young people to other countries, such as Europe and the USA, to search for work and education. Therefore, the EuroMed Youth Programme is very beneficial economically, and allows young people to join youth exchanges and to get to know other people from all over Europe and Mediterranean countries. In youth exchanges they are likely to share their knowledge, culture and traditions with other young people from different countries. Apart from this, sometimes young people in Turkey suffer from low self-esteem because they have difficulties practicing foreign languages even if they learn a second language, and the EuroMed Programmes give this kind of opportunity to them. In addition to this, the main problem for young people is lack of morale and goals in my country. I think that this comes from economic conditions and family relationships. In Turkey, young people prefer to live near their families after completing their education even if they are quite old. They do not prefer to lead their lives alone. They can live near their family or they can marry.
After the military coup in 1980, the generation of the 80′s became distanced from almost all political activity. The education given to them expressed all kinds of discrimination and social inequalities. With the help of NGOs, activists and the EU accession process, young people in Turkey have become more hopeful and more active. However, there is a crucial percentage of them that wants to live abroad where economic conditions and employment are better. The understanding of voluntary political action is being encouraged again. While the gap in social inequality widens in the economy, there is the danger that only higher and middle class minorities will get the opportunities to take part in significant voluntary programmes, whereas many young people with harder conditions will have to leave their education and help with their families’ economy.
In Turkey families are traditional. Because of the economic crisis in Turkey they are obliged to cut down on social activities and expenses. This situation influences young people and their activities. We want to offer our participants the best platform to develop private enterprises and activities.
In every culture, youth means dynamism, clarity and hope. Maybe Turkey’s biggest wealth is young people for just that reason. On the other hand Turkey has the youngest population of the EU. You can describe Turkish young people with the words shy, anxious but dynamic, hopeful and hardworking.
Turkey is one of the most attractive countries in Europe and the Middle East with its very young population. 40% of the 70 million inhabitants are between 15-30 years old, but this huge number does not bring prosperity. On the contrary, young people have some important problems like education or employment due to not having a serious policy about youth. The average age of the politicians in my country is higher than in other European countries. Young people cannot be represented in parliament, because they have to be at least 30 years old to be candidates. In my opinion this is a major problem for young people in my country. They lose their motivation because they see no way to solve their problems. If they can be part of a participatory democracy, they might feel more confident and look towards life in a healthier way.
Young people in Turkey are facing the common problems that are seen in developing countries. The inconsistent economic and political situation of the country makes it difficult for them to adapt themselves to the changing environment. Their major concerns are job entitlement and social security. Even university students are so busy studying that it is very difficult to earn money and enhance their lives by taking action in social affairs. Although the state policies about utilising the young brains are still inadequate, new generations of young people seem to be more and more idealistic and creative. Actually they are waiting for responsibilities at any time of life. What they need is some confidence that will come from society. Turkey has recently been realising its asset, which is in the hands of the young population. Thanks to long term investments in young brains, Turkish young people will certainly do well for Turkey and the whole world.
Half of the population in my country is young, and is depicted as being hopeless and lacking in confidence. The education system is very difficult and employment opportunities are very limited. Most of the young people in my country, especially girls, are not able to get an education because of traditional habits and economic conditions. Also, most of the young people do not have opportunities to express themselves and to develop their capacities or to evaluate their qualities, such as art and science. Generally young people have to live with their families for many years because they do not have the conditions in which they can live their own lives. Young people are not active in any decision-making process. If you look from the formal view, they will tell you how youth is important, but if we are honest and look from an independent point of view you can clearly see that young people are living in difficult physical and social conditions. But in spite of all these disadvantageous conditions, young people are the most dynamic symbol of change and a modern mentality to represent intercultural and universal values in the country, and young people are in movement at every point.
The number of young people between the ages of 19-24 in the total population of Turkey in 2004 reached 11.4%. However, since young people do not have a voice in the formulation and implementation of youth policies, they have remained far away from the planning, decision-making and implementation processes, since they are not organised and cannot realise cultural exchanges. They cannot become equal partners vis-à-vis governments, and this causes practical problems in the realisation of youth related policies. Within the framework of the Turkey Local Agenda 21 Programme that has been implemented by the International Union of Local Authorities Section for the East Mediterranean and the Middle East (IULA-EMME) with the support of UNDP, local youth councils and local youth club activities in about 70 cities have been carried out with the facilitation of the Youth Association for Habitat and Agenda 21 since 1997. Local Agenda 21 Programme implementation, which is supported in 88 countries by UNDP, started in 1997 with a governmental decision in March 1998. The Programme, which has been promoted as a best practice in various international events, enables young people to act as partners in the formulation and decision-making processes at a local level. UNDP, based on the success of Local Agenda 21, has extended implementation to a third phase. The third phase of Local Agenda 21 includes activities geared towards approval by the municipal councils of the statutes of local youth councils which regulate their operations and working principles, organisation of trainings on harmonisation with the EU and the good governance principles of the EU, and promotion of and contribution to the establishment of a National Youth Council based on local youth councils. After 25 national meetings and more than 200 local meetings in 63 cities since 1997, a youth summit was organised in Ankara on the 19th of May 2004, parallel to the official youth day, with the participation of 200 youth representatives from 64 cities. This summit has also kicked off the establishment of a Local Agenda 21 National Youth Parliament. This parliament constitutes a basis for a national youth council, which will build its strength on local youth councils in the formulation and planning of youth policies at the national level, as well as in their effective realisation.
Not good…!!!
Young Turkish people are very dynamic and willing to learn, but unfortunately only ten percent have the opportunity to attend university, especially during the process of applying for EU membership. More and more young Turkish people would like to learn foreign languages and also gain expertise in a specific subject.
There is a huge young population in Turkey which needs to be mobilised. Their participation in NGOs, and in projects has started to increase but new ways must be found to encourage these young people to get involved in social projects. Considering the fact that more than half of the population is young, there will be great social power, mobility and action if this is done.
The world is changing. There are no boundaries between the countries of the world, so we cannot mention only the young people of my country. The real topic that that the young people of the world are looking forward to in the future is the growth of economic instability. We are the future, and we can find answers to these problems. First, however, we have to improve ourselves. I think we should teach others what we know (culture, social, finance, etc.)
We have a huge number of young people in Turkey. There are even 15 million young students in primary schools. There are also uneducated young people in Turkey. They are girls whose families do not send them to school because of their traditions and beliefs. In the future they will be wives and mothers. We have to create our future by sending girls to school.
In Turkey, young people want to determine their own requirements as determined by the times, and to have an active role in shaping the future of the country with their own value systems, visions and ideas. However, currently the young people of Turkey do not display a very successful graphic as far as participation is concerned. Currently, Turkish young people are far from active in their participation in all kinds of management and decision-making mechanisms. This is due to some basic shortcomings (education, employment, etc.) in addition to the distant approach practised by those who are governing the country. I believe that we, as the young people of the country, are not only the future, we are already the leaders of today. So, young people should be more involved in the decision-making processes, and that is basically what we are trying to do.
Turkish boys and girls are very interested in joining EuroMed projects, but they do not have enough information yet.
Half of the population is composed of young people in Turkey. Many young people are challenging unemployment and the lack of education. They are not as active in social and cultural life, but there are many who are well-educated and active. Another need in Turkey is to help young people to learn more about youth programmes in order to support and develop their skills, knowledge as well as practicing intercultural learning with other young people.
They have a lot of problems such as unemployment and self-sufficiency. They would like Turkey to participate in Europe.
As is known, young people are about 60% of the population of Turkey. However, many young people in Turkey experience unemployment. This is the first problem that I observed. The second problem is that young people in Turkey are not united. That is why they cannot produce youth policies in order to cope with their problems. However, my organisation and other youth NGOs are trying to establish the National Youth Council in Turkey. With this council we aim to improve the economic and social conditions of young people in Turkey, and we aim to establish a youth network in Turkey to facilitate communication between young people. Finally, although we are faced with the same difficulties as other Turkish young people, we are hopeful about the future.
Turkey is very lucky to have a very young population compared to other European countries, but there is a problem in education standards and social achievements, which are not so high. It is very hard to succeed in university exams, and a lot of people want to get a university education but they cannot. They should be supported by external and national support.
After the military coup in Turkey in 1980, young people totally lost their interest in politics, international relations, cultural diversity and tolerance. There was a great influence on young people because, if they were interested in what was going on in the country, they would have been spotted by people, police, etc. So after the coup, young people started to be interested in subjects like fashion, music and magazines. However, during the time when we were trying to get involved with the European Union, young people started to be active in social life again. Right now we have started to build national youth councils all over Turkey. We are trying to get them involved in some projects and make them aware of the world and Turkey. So far we can say that we have been really successful with the age group 20-25. Hopefully the next generation will be involved from childhood.
Young people in Turkey have the potential to improve themselves and to become extremely open-minded, but Turkey does not have enough opportunities for young people. Therefore, we can say that there is an incredible competition for improvement between young people and organisations, like AIESEC which helps students to improve in different areas. On the other hand, not all young people are as lucky as the ones who are studying in big cities. Because of the unequal education system in Turkey, young people, especially in the East, are unlucky. In recent years, AIESEC has set up a project called ‘New Horizons in the South-East’ which has given the chance to these young people to study in foreign countries.
Open to dialogue, against racism, uses the Internet, bookworm, able to learn.
I think that teenagers in Turkey are hopeless. They behave as though the end of the world has come and there is no future ahead. Seeing the unemployed majority outside, they think that there is no use in studying. They just focus on computers or try to cure this void by drugs or cigars. They are totally listless. Whether they live in urban or rural regions, they have little ambition. So when they face a negative event, all their desire booms. What I want to do is to show their capabilities, their self-portrait. Ultimately, I want to see a bright generation: self-satisfied, confident and never giving up.
Turkey is a unique and an interesting country which embraces the past and the present. It is a Middle Eastern, but also Western country with a strong enthusiasm for European Union membership. Young people in Turkey are living an environment with political quarrels, cultural diversity and intercultural connections. Developing an awareness of youth activities, supported by international organisations, foundations and other NGOs, is an eye-opener for them because they introduce Turkish young people to international meetings as well as the cultures of the Middle East, the Mediterranean and Europe, while all of their cultural heritage is still preserved in this land. These cultural encounters are sharpening their sensitivity to the issues of cultural identity, cultural differences, and cultural heritage. These cultural encounters are also crucial, and make young people in Turkey turn their attention to their own country in an attempt to understand and interpret its diverse cultures and impressive history.
30% of the entire population is composed of young people, which means about 25 million people, and 20% of this young population is made up of university students (5 million). Within the last 5 years there has been a great increase in the number of civilian youth organisations in our country. Especially after the earthquake in August 1999, these organisations began to guide young people and orientate their enormous energy and potential in favour of our community. In this new spirit of solidarity, young people started participating, producing and managing voluntary actions more and more. Turkish young people are eager to recognise the challenges, take part in decision-making processes and collaborate with each other. We are expecting our government to promote active citizenship, engage young people into all democratic aspects and eventually create a common youth policy.
In Turkey, youths between the ages of 19 and 24 constitute 11% of the whole population. However, in the process of the development and implementation of youth policies, young people do not have much chance to have a say in the matter. They also avoid planning and decision-making processes. Thus, young people cannot engage in cultural exchanges, and they cannot be made into a group possessing an organisational structure. This situation brings about a problem regarding the implementation of youth policies. A lot of international agreements that Turkey has signed which stress the importance of the acceptance of youth as a partner should be applied in order to make young people aware of involvement. Acceptance of young people as equal national and international partners results in a more transparent administration culture in Turkey, and also all over the world.
Half of Turkey’s population is below the age of 25, so young people in my country form the majority and they have big expectations for their future from government. However, the government is not doing enough to meet all their requirements. That is why NGOs have more and more important roles in affecting and directing the young population. I believe that it is quite important to lead the younger generation in the right direction but, in Turkey the community does not pay enough attention to the problems of young people and their demands. I hope to gain new ideas from this encounter so I can express these facts to the rest of the population, and let them know about YOUTH. The biggest problem experienced by young people is the lack of educational facilities. Other problems involve the economic condition of their families. Compared to most of the European young population, young Turks are much more dynamic but also conservative.
In Turkey, the number of young people adds up to almost 15 million. The serious problems for young people are unemployment and the uncertainty of future progress. On the other hand, because of the high proportion of young people, we have the power to establish different working areas. We, the Kutahya Youth Association, are leading young people to use their capacities. When young people are not interested in such kind of associations, they may have difficulties in representing themselves.
Youth is the most important age group in Turkey. More than 50% of the Turkish population is below 25 years of age. However, government funds are not capable of providing the necessary education and living standards and establishing suitable sports, cultural and other youth facilities for the young majority. Also, Turkey is not a country where civil society has realised its power. The establishment of many non-governmental organisations, especially youth organisations, is new. However, Turkish young people have great potential, leading Turkey to become one of the most successful implementers of Local Agenda 21. Today, in many cities and towns, young people have established local organisations to raise awareness, to become effective actors in social life and policy making, and to share. This potential can be best realised by making efficient contributions to the EuroMed Youth Programme. Turkish young people face many problems, and that is why the young population of Turkey has a great potential to solve those problems.
In Turkey there is still no youth policy, which should be considered as a separate and significant area of policy making. Young people are taken into account in the field of sports under the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The budget allocated for youth is minimal. Still, young people in Turkey cannot make their voices heard. We do not have a National Youth Council yet, which leads to problems in representing young Turkish people at both the domestic and international levels. There is no representation vis-à-vis the authorities during the process of decision-making on youth matters. Neither is there representation at the international level. A very simple example is about the dissemination of information. There is news of events related to young people which is sent to the national youth councils in all countries, but in Turkey the address of those events is not definite. Moreover, there is a huge gap in the equality of opportunity regarding youth in the Western and the Eastern parts of Turkey. Opportunities are more widely available for those living in the Western half of the country in terms of education, social benefits and employment. Young people remain isolated from each other, given the fact that there have been no platforms to allow them to come together except the Local Agenda 21 Programme. The Local Agenda 21 Programme is a success in the sense that it is a large platform bringing young people from every corner of Turkey together. The Programme resulted in the establishment of a national youth council in Turkey at the end of 2006.
Turkey has a population of 70 million people, and young people under the age of 35 make up 65% of this total number. This high percentage of young people in the population requires a very structured youth policy in the country. However, the reality is now far from satisfactory. The youth policy of the government is under the administration of the Directorate General of Youth and Sport, which is responsible to one of the ministers in the council of ministers. However, 90% of the work of this Directorate General focuses on the sports policy of the country, and only 10% of the resources are used for youth policy, although the country has a very high percentage of young people. The unfortunate fact that Turkey does not have a permanent youth policy is also made public in parliament by ministers and members of parliament. Since the year 2001, some youth NGOs have been conducting a lobbying campaign for the establishment of a youth law for the country. On the other hand, young people and students are not used to organising themselves in different youth associations. This is mainly because of the mentality of young people and for the reason explained below. The main youth NGOs and branches of international youth associations are located in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, and there is little or no awareness of civil society in other cities. Recently, however, there has been an initiative to establish a youth council in Turkey.
Actually, youth in Turkey has great potential for success and innovation, but the output is not always as high as the potential due to the lack of equality of opportunities in education. This is a very important problem for young people in Turkey. Another issue is about unemployment. Even very qualified people are sometimes not able find a job that satisfies them. Young people are not represented in councils, and there is no youth policy working seriously. Actually there are some efforts, but they are not satisfactory. Young people in Turkey are sociable in terms of leisure and fun activities, but the percentage taking part in sports or having a specific hobby is very low. The major reason for this is the economic situation of the country. The main motivation is making money to live better, so this thought makes young people forget or delay other things such as sports or hobbies which would actually make them healthier and more successful in life.
Young people in Turkey have many socio-economic, cultural and political frustrations. First of all, our education system does not function in accordance with the needs of the country and the wider world. Unemployment is one of the most important problems. Furthermore, the education system does not train democratic, well-equipped individuals who can easily integrate with the world outside. They have no vision and ideals. They cannot express themselves easily and freely in a political arena; in fact, they do not know how to do it. Pessimism is another important problem. They cannot predict what will happen in the future, so they hardly have any long-term plans which they pursue. They do not know their country’s cultural and historical riches very well. The young people who live in the West are not informed about their contemporaries in the East, and vice versa. So, most of them have no historical and cultural consciousness about their country. Many are quite optimistic regarding EU membership, and have many expectations in this sense.
Turkey has the highest population percentage of young people in Europe, with 11.4% between the ages 19-24. Young people in universities and big cities are organised as student clubs or voluntary associations whereas there are also unorganised young people. Although their main problems are first to get to university, and then employment, the more active young people are open to learning and discovery. They also do not have a direct say in the implementation of youth policies, but there is a Local Agenda 21 national youth parliament which is a base for a national youth council. The EU EuroMed Youth Programme allows young people to go abroad, see new cultures, and to show Turkish culture in the context of these programmes, as well as organising many youth projects in Turkey. I can say that it has been useful to learn more about intercultural learning and to develop new friendships.
30% of the population is made up of young people between the ages 18-30, but there are some problems for young people. In my opinion, the most important problem is education. Every year, millions of young people take an entrance exam for university, but only a small number of these succeed. The others will have to wait for the following year, or they give up the idea of going to university altogether. However, if you compare this country with other Middle Eastern countries, conditions for the young are much better in Turkey.
In Turkey, the percentage of the population made up of young people is higher than in other countries. This causes a lot of unemployment among university-educated young people. More than that, in Turkey, there is no youth policy and this leads to no future for us.
There is a high percentage of young people in comparison with other countries. Although this is an advantage, the politicians have no policy for youth. There is a lot of unemployment, mostly among university graduates, and this causes low prosperity. This is the situation. Lots of new active and full brains but no jobs to do.
Turkey has a large youth population which is very dynamic and which is hungry for success. However, taking into consideration that there is a high rate of unemployment in the country, we cannot conclude that we are making use of this young population in the most efficient way. Nonetheless, things are changing in Turkey, along with the opening of negotiations with the EU and the enormous growth rates recorded in recent years. This process, as both sides are getting closer to each other, will benefit the young people who have not had big hopes about their future so far. Although economic conditions could develop faster, still the social aspect of the youth policy is missing. Unfortunately I am not able to say that the government is taking a lot of action to improve the inclusion and integration of young people in society in the best way. There must be large scale projects to move the young population and establish a platform where they will interact with each other, or at least facilitate these efforts by some means. Another point which is worth mentioning is the unbalance between the regions in Turkey. The Western part is clearly more developed and modernised than the East. This effects the situation of young people both economically and socially. There is usually difficulty in communicating between people from different regions. In the larger cities, young people are luckier because they can more or less participate in voluntary work as part of their social life, but in relatively smaller and Eastern cities they may not find this opportunity easily, either because of the lack of such organisations and initiatives or because of economic reasons that prevent them from taking part in an activity. For whatever reason, a larger scale youth policy prepared by government and supported by civil society is needed, to be implemented together to create a more active and open society in our future.
We are a large community including all our citizens. As well as the economic crises in our country, we are also caught between our historical heritage and European modernity, and we do not want to give up either of them. We believe that we are a good example of universalism, because we are a bridge between East and West, and between different religions and cultures. We know that we are responsible for our country and we have a lot of things to do.
The situation of young people in my country differs from place to place, but most of the young people in Turkey prefer to live in big cities because of the education and employment opportunities. Young people form a big part of our community. They are seen as being the future of the country, but they have little chance to express themselves because of the lack of opportunities given to them to do their best. Although young Turkish people are not highly educated, they are a very open-minded generation. They are encouraged to make use of technological advances and keep up with new ideas. They may face serious problems in our country because of the economic situation, and there is a high rate of immigration of young people who are searching for work and education. Therefore the EuroMed Programmes are very beneficial economically. Young people have been informed about the youth programmes recently, and these allow young people to join youth exchanges and to get to know other people from all over Europe and the Mediterranean. In youth exchanges they are likely to share their knowledge, culture and traditions with other young people from different countries. In addition to their other issues, they have dependency problems because of their strong family relationships, and because of this they are lacking in morale and goals. The lack of an opportunity to identify themselves also stems from economic conditions.
In Turkey, as everywhere, there are many different situations. The largest group is made up of those who have average education, by which we mean high-school graduation, but have no professional ability, cannot go to university because of economic and social reasons (especially girls), and are therefore dependent on their families. They work for minimal money in insignificant jobs such as shop assistants. Most of them think that if they had the chance, they would go to university. There is also the luckier group, and I accept that I belong to this group. They can go to university, and have the opportunity to be part of social groups such as NGOs, student clubs, etc. However, even when they have university degrees, there is no guarantee that they will find a job in Turkey. Therefore, the main dream is to go abroad, especially to the USA, to study or work, sometimes even in jobs requiring no qualifications.
In Turkey there is no one place for all young people to come together. Nowadays, we are trying to found a national youth council. My organisation supports it, but it does not mean that the situation of Turkey’s young people is undefined. There are many problems with unemployment and a growing young population. I think change in the minds of young people can be possible with these projects, with knowledge of new lives and solutions to their – probably similar – problems. In short, unawareness can be seen as a basic situation of Turkish young people. Young people are far from aware of other cultures, which limits their life vision also. I think that these projects are the best way to explain the situation of our young people, and to find some solutions to these problems. The best way is communication, and knowing new cultures and getting an open vision of life.
It is not easy to say general things about young people in my country because people do not have the same chances all over Turkey. This is because of the unbalanced distribution of wealth between the Western and Eastern parts of my country, but it is possible to say that the standards of living of young people are increasing year by year. However, in the Eastern parts of Turkey there are still big problems regarding opportunities in the academic and social spheres. There are no educational institutions of sufficiently good quality, and there are no social centres for them to spend time. This causes young people to choose harmful ways to enjoy themselves. It is different, however, in the Western part of Turkey, because there are enough opportunities for young people in my city. Besides, my city is by the sea, and so life goes well here. Also my university, for example, is one of the biggest in the country, and we also have a lot of social opportunities here. This situation is similar in cities like Istanbul and Ankara and other Western cities. As you can see, when the opportunities are equal all young people in my country will be more useful for themselves.

- Contributed by Ms. Serap Yeter