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Who is ATIK?

ATIK – Confederation of Workers from Turkey in Europe

The Foundation

ATIK, as result of a great deal of efforts and a long struggle, an organization was founded in 1986 and there is a long history behind it. ATIK united all those who had similar beliefs and political resolve, under one umbrella organisation. The background to the history of the foundation of ATIK is as follows.

 Soon after the 1960 labor agreement between Turkey and Germany, many workers from Turkey migrated to Germany and other European countries. These workers did not only contribute to the production but also created an organizational structure in conjunction with the working conditions in abroad and the developments in Turkey. Starting with small-scaled organizations, they later grew larger and became more conscious and more permanent. One of the most important steps that was taken prior to the establishment of ATIK was the founding of ATOF (The federation of Students from Turkey in Germany). In the beginning, ATOF mainly consisted of students from Turkey and concentrated on the issues that students were facing. ATOF then grew larger and started dealing with workers issues as well as student’s. A great need for a more consistence organization was felt and that need created ATIF (The federation of Workers from Turkey in Germany) in 1976. ATIF became a mass organization in a very short time. ATIF has been an exemplary as it has gathered a very large number of workers and toilers around it and it has carried out massive and effective activities since it’s founding. ATIF has also encouraged the establishments of federations in Holland, France, Austria and Switzerland. All these federations needed an umbrella organization in order to be more permanent and more effective and to be able to create an awareness of the issues that workers from Turkey are facing. This urged the formation of ATIK in 1986.

The federations that operates through ATIK

ATIK prepares the central policy that helps direct the federations and committees. Each federation determines its own policy according to ATIK’s central policy, runs its activities within a programme that is based on the concrete conditions of the respective country. ATIK has a youth section (New Democratic Youth) and a Women section that is also run Europe –wide.

ATIF (The Federation of Workers from Turkey in Germany)

ATIGF (The Federation of Workers and Youth from Turkey in Austria)

HTIF (The Federation of Workers from Turkey in Holland)

ITIF (The Federation of Workers from Turkey in Swizerland)

FRANCE Committee

ENGLAND Committee


Our confederation has three journals: ATIK assessed people from Turkey in Europe as “foreigners” in past years and determined its policy accordingly. But this statement was changed in ATIK’s 9th Congress where it was decided that the term “foreigners” did not reflect the existing status and that the right assessment would be “immigrants”.

Mucadele Newspaper

New Women magazine

New Democratic Youth magazine



Why Immigration?
Following the Second World War, the European Countries that were rebuilding their countries needed large number of workers. They then signed agreements with undeveloped countries such as Turkey, Spain, and Greece etc. to bring over technical staff and labor. Turkey was in the lead of other countries in terms of sending it’s workforce to Europe. By 1969, only 4 years after the signing of the agreement with Germany, 100,000 workers from Turkey were working in Germany. The number of workers was not only rising Germany but also in other European countries it was getting bigger and bigger. There are over 3 million people from Turkey in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, and England. Workers who came to work in Germany and other European countries were planning to work for a while, save some money and return to their own countries. Their life style also reflected this idea. They were even doing small-scaled investments in Turkey in order to guarantee their future. Workers who came from countryside were buying lands, tractors and building houses in their villages. Same situation applied to the workers coming from cities. They were also buying houses – lands, and setting up small businesses. The workers, specifically the ones in Germany, were making medium scaled investments by setting up medium scaled partnerships. These investments got bigger especially in 1974. These were all signs of workers intentions to return to Turkey.

The life styles that these workers adopted was another indication of their intention to go back. They had not brought their families with them and they were living in a very modest way, mostly in camps.

Having worked and lived 10 years in abroad these workers seemed to have changed their attitude about going back. Significant changes occurred in their life after family re-union agreement signed by Turkey and Germany in 1974 and the ending of bringing new workers from Turkey. Up to then these workers had been living in a very modest way changed their life style and began to live in more settled way owed to the fact that they were not alone but they were now with their families. The workers then started to think they could actually stay longer than they had initially been planning.

On the other hand in order to support each other these workers from Turkey began to choose to live close to one another and this created the ghettos. This is the reason why people from the same cities in Turkey live in same area in Germany. Similar situation applies to other countries as well.

In 1984, Germany establish a law on the immigrants in order to reduce the level of the unemployment. According to this law workers were encouraged through a payment of lump sum, to go back. A certain number of people benefited from this law and went back. There were other reasons for workers wanting to go back to their country such as the existence of very tough immigration laws, the discontinuing of work contracts, unemployment, the low wages, being offered only the dirty jobs that local people refused to do, and having to put up with segregation in the work places etc. These were important factors for people. Among some of the people who went back to Turkey, there emerged various signs of dis-location mis-adaptaion. These problems were seen especially in young people who were either born and brought up in Germany or came to Germany at a very young age. For example a study showed that 40.4% of people who went back indicated that they would have gone back to Germany if it were ever possible. This demonstrates that those who benefited from encouragement law and went back to Turkey indicated that they did not see the negative sides to the law in the beginning and only later on realized and immediately started to find ways of going back to Germany. This especially existed among the young people. As a result of this tendency to go back to Germany, the German government issued only once a new law under the name of “Rucekehr option” and accepted those who wished to come back. According to this new law young people of less than 23 years age who had returned to Turkey, could come back to Germany on their own and they would be given a status to live and work in Germany.

Affected by all the above mentioned developments people who had been living in Europe started to think differently about going back to Turkey. Workers who wanted to go back after a short while changed their mind in favor of staying. This tendency of staying was especially common among the younger generation. According to the results of a survey which was done in 8 cities of Germany, 39.4% of people stated that they did not wish to go back to Turkey at all and 21% stated that they would not consider going back for at least another 10 years or that they would stay for good.

Another sign of people’s wish to stay rather than go back was the rise in number of young people attending higher education. According to another survey done in 1992 the number or young people attending higher education rose significantly.

A significant change in the way people made their investment also proved that they wanted to settle in Europe. Those who were investing money in Turkey started buying properties, restaurants etc. in Europe.

According to a survey currently there are 37 thousand self-employed people from Turkey in Germany. Of these 37 thousand 41% are involved in retail business. The number of self-employed has tripled since 1983. The number of people from Turkey owning properties in Germany is also rising. 11% of 467 thousand families own a house or a flat. By end of 1990 145 thousand people signed for a mortgage account and 8 billion marks were paid into these accounts. Apart from Germany, people from Turkey are showing a great interest in becoming self-employed in Holland, France, United Kingdom and Belgium. By 1992 there were 1,703 self-employed and employees in Holland. There were 1,367 self-employed in Belgium in 1990 alone. There are a number of construction companies owned by people from Turkey in France. They are small but time to time they enter jointly into bids for public projects. It is known that in Denmark there are over 300 small retailers. These are important figures in establishing the fact that people from Turkey who live in Europe have now the intention to stay. Authorities in Turkey who are aware that those who immigrated to Europe from Turkey will not return to Turkey for good, are adjusting their legal system to help currency flow in Turkey. These adjustments include dual citizenship, completing the military service in prospective countries that they live in etc. Europeans, who likewise are aware of the above fact, encourage people from Turkey to become their citizens.

Consequently all above-mentioned facts prove that people from Turkey in Europe intend to live in Europe rather than go back. This also demonstrates that people from Turkey in Europe are no longer foreigners and must be regarded as an immigrant community.

In the light of this findings; The aims and tendency of ATIK:
ATIK is a democratic mass organization that struggles for economic and democratic rights of people from Turkey in Europe.

ATIK fights for the abolition of all laws and their application that are in force under the name of “foreigners law”. ATIK believes identifying workers in Europe, as foreigners does not reflect the reality since they are immigrants and are there to stay. These workers pay their taxes same as the local people do and contribute tremendously to the economy. Therefore it is unjust to classify them as “foreigners” and apply an additional “foreigners law” onto them.

ATIK fights for a right to vote for everyone who has been living in Europe for many years and who is an immigrant.

ATIK fights for removal of the restriction of the right of free travel applied to people from Turkey that was brought out by establishment of European Union.

ATIK fights for the right to have a pre-school and in school education in the mother tongue for children of immigrants.

ATIK supports and promotes the national and social liberation struggles.

ATIK is against all kinds of torture.

ATIK is against all kinds of trials that people are put through because of their political believes.

ATIK is against all kind of humiliation that people are facing because of their religious believes.

ATIK is against all kinds of national, class and sexual pressure on women. ATIK defends the equality of women.

ATIK fights to keep young people away from all kinds of drugs, criminal offences and demoralization.
ATIK trains and organizes young people.

ATIK is against Imperialism, Fascism and all kinds of reaction and struggles against them.

ATIK is against all kinds of occupation.

ATIK is against the destruction of environment and fights to stop all kinds of nuclear experiments.

ATIK respects all different cultures and defends integration of all cultures.

Working Together

Any institutions, establishment and federation that accept ATIK’s continuation and program in the light of above-mentioned aims can become a member of ATIK. ATIK accepts working with all other democratic institutions and establishments on the bases of respect trust and equal rights, within the boundaries of joint activities.