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Report: Germany accepts few Turkish asylum applications

Germany has accepted only 6.8 percent of asylum applications from Turkey so far this year despite a widening crackdown. The report comes as Germany says it is open to accepting persecuted asylum-seekers from Turkey.

Germany is accepting few asylum-seekers from Turkey despite a near doubling of applications so far this year compared to a year earlier, "Die Welt" reported on Saturday.

A total of 3,793 Turkish citizens applied for asylum in Germany from the beginning of the year until the end of September, with 85 percent of asylum-seekers identifying as ethnic Kurds, the newspaper reported, citing the German Interior Ministry and Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

But only 6.8 percent of asylum applications were accepted, despite a raging Turkish-Kurdish conflict and widening crackdown in the country, compared with an acceptance rate of 14.6 percent the previous year.

Since the failed July coup bid, asylum applications by Turkish citizens have also been on the rise. In July, there were 275 applications, 375 in August and another 446 in September.

Concern over crackdown

Jürgen Hardt, the foreign affairs spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, told "Die Welt" that "considering the alarming human rights situation in Turkey it is likely that such an increase in asylum applications will continue."

The report comes as the German government says it is open to accepting asylum applications from Turkey, with concern mounting over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's purges and crackdown on the opposition and media.

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German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth told "Die Welt" earlier this week the country "is open to all those who are politically persecuted as a matter of principle."

Few deportations

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meanwhile, told parliament on Thursday that he would develop a package of measures to allow persecuted scientists, academics, cultural workers and journalists from Turkey to work in Germany.

Despite the high rejection rate, many of the 3,793 asylum seekers from Turkey so far this year have not been deported, as is also the case with asylum applicants from other countries.

According to a government response to a parliamentary question, in the first half of this year only 101 rejected Turkish asylum applicants were deported, while another 348 left voluntarily.

Germany is home to more than 3 million people from Turkey, many of whom came as guest workers and for family reunification. Yet Turkey was also one of the main sources of asylum-seekers between 1986 and 2011.

Between 1990 and 2000, there were more than 200,000 asylum applications from Turkey, according to the Interior Ministry.  Most applications were denied but many people stayed in Germany nonetheless.

Tensions over refugee deal

In addition to seeking asylum, citizens of Turkey also come to Germany on the basis of normal residency permits, such as work visas and those granted for purposes of family reunification.

A major provision of a controversial EU-Turkey deal to stem the flow migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa would allow visa-free travel to the bloc for Turkish citizens as demanded by Ankara. 

The fate of the deal remains up in the air amid tense Turkey-EU relations over the deterioration of rights and Europe's reluctance to grant visa-free travel. Some in Europe have voiced concern that granting visa-free travel to citizens of Turkey could lead to a major spike in asylum applications.

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