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Turkish immigrant population

The Turkish community in Brussels, in contrast with other foreign communities in the city such as Greek, stands out by the lack of an appropriate establishment to represent the Turks. Also in Turkish case, central representation is mainly accomplished through the Embassy, which is staffed by educated officials coming from the urban areas in Turkey. Many Turkish activists feel excluded by the prestige which the EU institutions bring. However the employment of some Turks by the EU-related institutions has significantly affected the dynamics within the Turkish communities in Brussels.

However, many Turkish intellectuals chose to stand at a critical distance, instead of participating in the construction of a strong Turkish community. This is probably because most of the Turkish intellectuals are political refugees who try to escape both the Turkish state and their past lives in Turkey. Hence, there have been few attempts to centrally represent the Turkish community in Brussels. The lack of a Turkish community and the central role of the Turkish embassy depends heavily on the recent political history of Turkey. The Turkish embassy as the state representative per se attempts to control what is seen as the Turkish community.

Also, in the Turkish case, Islam has often been used as a blanket term by both Left-wing Turks and Belgians to construct the stereotype of the Muslim Turk. However, the plurality of the mosques highlights the complexity of religious affiliations within Turkish community. It also demonstrates the direct role of religion in political debates about Turkishness (Stacul, Moutsou, Kopnina, 2006:125-129). Turks in the European Parliament, NGOs, the media The connections between the Embassy, the mosques and the State, and the power games that these institutions initiate are often mentioned by the Turkish intellectuals.

The Embassy is usually seen as an obstacle to Turks’ integration into Belgian society and as the reason for Turkey’s failure to become European. For many Turkish intellectuals living in Brussels, the exclusion of Turks from the EU’s premises was particularly painful. It was often compared with Greece’s inclusion, as for many Turks, the cultural affinities, of the two countries should ensure then the same fate with regards to Europe (Stacul, Moutsou, Kopnina, 2006:130). In fact Turkish comments on this issue have been extremely sarcastic as can be seen from one of the examples below:

“I have lived and worked in Brussels for years, but I am still excluded from Europe. Turks in Brussels particularly, would really benefit if Turkey were an EU member…Do you know what is Turkey’s best connection to the EU? Our (Turkish) women who clean the Eurocrats’ offices. Almost all cleaners in the EU premises are Turkish, that’s our best connection! ” Another aspect of the power of homeland over Turks in Brussels has been the recent success of ten Turkish channels in Belgium. In the words of a Turkish political refugee: “They don’t even need to get out of their houses now. They have a Turkey at home every day” .

The increasing number of television channels in Turkey is directly connected with the role of State in the evolution of Turkish society. (Stacul, Moutsou, Kopnina, 2006:134). B. The mechanism and the methods for lobbying a. Networks and Networking in Brussels Networks and Networking The word “network” is heard in some or the other context every day. The word has come to describe all types of people associations: a friendship network, a neighborhood network, a women’s network, a board member network, a self-help network, an old boy network, a scuba-diving network, a knitters’ network etc.

A network is a web of free0standing participants cohering through shared values and interests. Networks are composed of self-reliant people and of independent groups. Networking is people connecting with people, linking ideas and resources. Networking has entered the lexicon to mean making connections among peers. One person with a need contacts another with a resource, and networking begins. Though personal networking is as old as human story, only in the past few decades have people consciously used it as an organizational tool and only now are people beginning to put a name to it (Lipnack, Stamps, 1986:1-3).

Networks in Brussels The context of interest groups and policy networks in Brussels has been studied extensively and explained by both multilevel governance and the network approach. The network perspective can be distinguished in the rational choice approach, the personal interaction approach, formal network analysis and the structural approach. In Brussels policy networks, despite being usually small and loosely structured, bring together effective problem solving capacity within a collection of actors with specialized tasks. They are heterogeneous and composed of actors with similar interests and resources.

They vary from 8/10 to 130 members. They focus on the EU political agenda and cluster around European policies and EU co-funded programs (energy and climate change, local development, transports, social affairs, research and innovation, structural funds, migration and integration, the Lisbon strategy, rural development and agriculture); They function as channels for knowledge transfer, exchange of best practice, learning and mutual socialization, information and communication campaigns, influence on EU policies and participation in EU co-funded programs (Bondebjerg, Madsen, 2009:151).

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