Hasan Alkas is a professor of microeconomics with a focus on international markets at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences. He was an advisor to the Minister of Transport and Communications in Turkey for several years and worked on industrial policy at the European Commission in Brussels. He loves Germany, but he ruthlessly exposes Germany’s weaknesses.
The Germans are afraid of war, feel shaken by the recession and fear that their homes will remain cold in winter. As an economics professor of Turkish origin, what do you think of Germany?
Hasan Alkas: The Turks are currently smiling about Germany, and that hurts me personally, who lives here. Germany has always been admired by Turkey as an industrial country, as a car country, as a machine country. German roads have always been a symbol of a prosperous Germany. Now there are better roads in Turkey, which put the admiration into perspective.
How are our efforts towards an energy transition in Turkey received?
Alkas: In Turkey nobody believes that Germany will be able to make ends meet with wind and solar. It’s a random stream, sometimes there and sometimes not. You can’t rely on that. Nobody in Turkey can understand that. Why are the Germans doing this, they ask themselves.
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Because we want to get away from fossil and nuclear energy sources. . .
Alcas: . . . yes, but they are destroying their industry. The same thing happens with cars, the Germans have such a successful and great car industry. Why are they talking about it? Why are they slaughtering their own winning machine? If they use less oil, CO2 emissions will not decrease worldwide, but other countries will buy more. I’m a German car fan. My diesel consumes six liters, a BMW. Why should this technology disappear now?
In Turkey, my colleagues are amazed at why the Germans are thinking things through in the long term, such as the energy transition, but the obvious thing is not being done, such as putting all the nuclear power plants back on the grid. A new reactor is currently being built in Turkey. With the help of Russia. Nobody understands shutting down the power plants when Germany has such good engineers. Why can Germany believe that it can do without nuclear power? Anything that’s gone is gone. Deindustrialization is progressing.
After all, the citizen money should come. A good thing?
Alkas: The Germans can no longer get their people to work if they pay them so much for nothing. The Germans are spoiled. Many Turks shake their heads at that.
And does this criticism from your compatriots affect you?
Alkas: It hurts me because I’m defending everything here. I grew up here, so I’m automatically in the role of defender. But it is difficult. The Germans often think they are the best. About climate change. They want to lead the way and inspire others. They do something so that others will follow them. And that’s where Turks have their doubts.
But we even have politicians of Turkish origin in Germany who think like that. Cem Ozdemir for example.
Alkas: From a Turkish point of view, Cem Özdemir is a politician who has never proven himself outside of politics. That doesn’t go down well in Turkey. It’s more like “Jugend forscht”. We Turks want a strong and successful Germany because we will benefit from it. We see a weak Germany and worry. That has consequences. Germany has always stood for thoroughness, reliability, diligence – all values that are about to be lost. Turks no longer see their future in Germany in the long term. That’s sad, it worries me even more than the people in Turkey who laugh at Germany. Because it is a creeping bond erosion.
How is Turkey’s relationship with Russia?
Alkas: In Turkey, when it comes to questions like this, the first man always plays the decisive role. So Erdogan. The first man at the top has a lot more say in Turkey than in Germany. And Erdogan is trying to get along with Russia and Ukraine. Cheap energy, cheap grain are both important for Turkey. So Russians are still welcome.
Would Erdogan be a good mediator for peace?
Alkas: I think Erdogan is a good mediator. He can do that, he has good political instincts, otherwise you can think what you want of him.
I n Cologne the muezzin will be allowed to call to prayer in the future. How do you find that?
Alkas: The Germans often have such anticipatory obedience. Turkish parents in German kindergartens are asked whether their son or daughter can take part in the Christmas party and think they are doing something right. In fact, however, this is a kind of sentimental politics. The Germans are stuck in a bubble of infatuation. In the bubble you have to find certain things good and others bad. This became visible during Corona, when the unvaccinated were excluded. That scared many Turks in Germany.
What do you advise the Germans?
Alkas: The Germans need a reset: the old virtues and optimism must return. You should finally find your old strength. I owe the country a lot, but a lot has changed since Corona. What has happened since then is not positive. Many people have turned their backs on society.
The article “”In Turkey they laugh about Germany”” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.