Making Integration work: experiences from Morocco, Turkey and Germany

Making Integration work: experiences from Morocco, Turkey and Germany


​​Isabel Küppers, Advisor GIZ, Marocco

“Making integration work: experiences from Morocco, Turkey and Germany” – this was the theme of the Integration Strategy Group (ISG), a transnational reflection group consisting of approximately twenty German, Moroccan and Turkish participants from different disciplines including politics, administration, civil society, media and research. The ISG is an initiative of the GIZ project “Strengthening selected municipalities in the management of migration” (financed by the BMZ through the MENA special initiative) and is implemented under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth in close cooperation with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). ​​

The integration of migrants and refugees is a recurring topic in public debates and has gained in importance over the last years. Politicians, civil society and private sector actors are working together to come up with solutions for the integration of migrants and refugees. Germany, Turkey and Morocco are all faced with the challenge of integrating a substantial number of newcomers. It thus appears all the more important that actors from the three countries exchange ideas and experiences regarding common challenges and potentials, in order to develop innovative solutions. 

​​The ISG dialogue series pursues precisely this aim: connecting German, Turkish and Moroccan actors, in order to view integration from different perspectives. In 2016, the ISG held three workshops in Berlin, Istanbul and Rabat. During the 2-day workshops, the participants discussed different aspects of integration and shared successful integration practices. Additionally, each meeting was enhanced by inputs from migration and integration experts from the respective countries and by field visits to successful integration initiatives. 

Following the last ISG meeting, ISG’s results were presented during an international conference in Rabat in the presence of the minister for Moroccans residing abroad and migration affairs Anis Birrou, the Turkish ambassador Ethem Barkan Öz, and the German ambassador Volkmar Wenzel under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth. 

Minister for Migration Affairs Anis Birrou stated that the integration of regularized migrants, refugees and returning Moroccans is one of the pillars of the national migration and asylum strategy. Moreover, the minister pointed towards the importance of international cooperation in order to exchange experiences for a successful integration of migrants. 
The Turkish ambassador Barkan Öz highlighted the importance of intercultural exchange between refugees and the host community in his welcome speech. Currently, 2.5 million refugees are living in Turkey. Despite the rising numbers, the country was able to integrate this population group into local life, by accommodating refugees in Turkish communities and cities straight away. Thereby, intercultural exchange and social cohesion can be strengthened. 

Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth emphasized the importance of raising awareness of not only common challenges in integration policy and integration work but also the great potential of working together on this topic. Instead of highlighting differences between population groups, successful integration work should be based on the identification of commonalities. According to Dr. Süssmuth, access to education and integration into the labour market hold the key for a long-term integration of newcomers. 

The results of the meetings in Berlin, Istanbul and Rabat were presented by the ISG participants during three panels. Topics such as the development of an integration strategy, the role of the local level in the implementation of integration policies and the significance of transnational networks in the field of integration were discussed.

The 80 conference participants discussed the different facets, challenges and opportunities and the potential of integration. And it became clear that the debate is not over yet: further possibilities for international exchange are needed. There are no universal solutions for succeessful integration, as every context is different. Nevertheless, exchanging ideas and practices on integration across national borders is a vital part of the search for successful integration models.    

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