Toward a TurkishRussian migration system: pioneers and followers, By Ayşem Biriz Karaçay
This paper shows how macrostructures between Turkey and the USSR generated initial migratory flows from Turkey to Russia. It then examines the role of pioneer migrants behind further migratory flows that formed the basis of the TurkishRussian migration s
The traditional approach to pioneer migration sees pioneers as the initial “movers,” who leave their countries and join different communities where none of the members of their communities have been before. Therefore, distinguishing pioneer migrants specific to each wave in the migration history and to each migration (sub) system may assist in understanding the diversification and (dis) continuities in migratory movements.
This paper follows a migration system theory that offers a broad perspective in assessing a system, by capturing the interactions in the receiving country, the sending country and the migrants as a whole. Accordingly, a migration system is defined as a set of places linked by flows and counter-flows of people, goods, services and information, all of which tend to facilitate further exchanges between places. This approach assesses international migration on a global, regional and national scale via political, economic and social processes. In this way, it is possible to distinguish historical singularities and similarities of migration flows, states and regions.
INITIAL MIGRATORY FLOWS FROM TURKEY TO THE USSR
In the early 1920s, the Turkish Republic, established in 1923, was primarily preoccupied with political and cultural reforms to consolidate her nation-building process. Implementing liberal economic principles, the one-party rule of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) sought to create a business class from the now dominant Turkish Muslim majority of the population. The unsuccessful attempts to initiate a national private sector without a well-established business class or sufficient financial resources resulted in a more closed economy and the expansion of the public sector.
Toward the mid-1930s, Turkey announced a new strategy of statism, which promoted the state as a leading producer as well as investor, since -according to the Turkish government -- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) seemed to have escaped from the challenges of the Great Depression, while at the same time sustaining high rates of
growth. Therefore, Soviet central planning came to be regarded as relevant evidence of the best way to achieve economic development. Parallel to this recognition of the USSR, the first five-year industrial plan was adopted in 1934, with the assistance of Soviet advisers. Taking her first long-term credit from the USSR, which continued to substantially increase friendship as well as the weight of Soviet influence, Turkey began to construct large, state-owned industrial plants. By the end of the decade, stateowned economic enterprises (SEEs) had emerged as leading producers in a number of key sectors, such as textiles, sugar, iron and steel, glassworks, cement, utilities and mining. For instance, the Sümerbank Nazilli Textile Factory was the first SEE in Turkey, established in the western province of Aydın in 1937.
After the first multi-party general election in 1950, the Democratic Party (DP) government gave greater scope to the private sector in agriculture and industry, with the help of aid from the US. However, following the economic and political insecurity of the late 1950s and the military intervention of 1960, military leaders came into power to restore political stability and economic development. Placing special emphasis on import substitution and central planning, they increased the role of SEEs, mostly established on Soviet credit. Similarly to the Sümerbank Nazilli Textile Factory established in 1937, more SEEs were later constructed in various provinces in Anatolia.
In particular, SEEs enhanced technical cooperation and dialogue between Soviet and Turkish workers and engineers, despite the escalating political tensions of the Cold War era. Additionally, there were examples of entrepreneurs, such as Naif Uras who exported meat from Kars (a province on the Soviet-Turkish border) to the Gyumri Meat Processing Factory in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Likewise, some retired bureaucrats and businessmen who knew about the specific needs of the Soviet economy that could be supplied by Turkey entered the closed Soviet market. One of the first examples was Güntekin Köksal, who launched consultancy and engineering services in 1974 in Moscow; following his steps, in 1978, Ertan Balin started the BASTAŞ Barite Company in the closed Soviet market.
These attempts could be considered the initial practices of both sides’ newly formulated liberal policies over the course of the 1970s. Turkey replaced its import substitution policy with an outwardlooking approach based on export-led growth and industrialization. In support of these policies, additional measures were implemented, such as export incentives and the liberalization of imports in the early 1980s. In fact, the prominent big business
Investments by Turkish companies such as ENKA set the scene for a potential partnership and enhanced trust between Russia and Turkey in the 2000s.