Belgium’s right-wing conservatives are campaigning to fund the return of Turkish migrants living in the city of Ghent to Turkey with the ironic slogan “Emirdağın sana ihtiyacı var” (Emirdağ needs you).
The Vlaams Belang party’s campaign attempts to convince the Turks in Ghent, many of whom were from the city of Emirdağ in the Afyonkarahisar province of Turkey, to return to their hometown.
“There are a lot of Turks who are not happy here,” Johan Deckmyn, Vlaams Belang parliamentary member, told Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. “You cannot tell these people to return if you do not have an initiative for them.”
He said their campaign addressed Turks who could not adapt to Belgian culture and those who wanted to return to Turkey even though they had emigrated. Pointing to many failed government projects such as the attempt to send funds to African nations, Deckmyn said funds could be used for their project instead.
The Turkish community in Ghent called the project racist, but Deckmyn denied the claims: “I am not a racist. I am not anti-Turk. I just want to live in a country that is still my country.” The parliamentary member complained the Turkish population in Ghent was making the city “Turkish.”
“Some parts of Ghent are becoming Turkish. My native neighborhood is becoming Turkish. I don’t recognize it anymore,” Deckmyn said about the change of shop names in the city. “I’m sure Turks would not like to have Swedish quarters in Ankara.”
The campaign used Turkey’s economic growth as a reason for Turks to return to Turkey. Deckmyn said the party was against Turkey’s membership to the European Union although they welcomed economic relations between the two parties.