2 municipal officials dismissed over probe into ‘missing’ Germany workshop attendees

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Two officials from a district municipality run by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been removed from their posts as part of an investigation into more than 40 people who went to Germany to attend a course last year and never returned, local media reported on Thursday.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) recently revealed in a parliamentary question that 43 of the 45 people who were sent by Malatya province’s Yeşilyurt district municipality to Hannover in September 2020 to attend an environmental workshop hadn’t yet returned.

After the development went public earlier this week, Turkey’s Interior Ministry launched an investigation into the more than 40 people who had failed to come back to Turkey after attending the workshop titled “Raising Environmentally Conscientious Individuals,” which was held by German company Mega Kilit GmbH between Sept. 15 and 27, 2020.

Only two participants of the 12-day event, which was mostly attended by members of the Malatya World of Personal Development Association, Yeşilyurt Deputy Mayors Şahin Özer and Bekir Karakuş, returned to the country, according to Turkish media reports.

The district municipality on Wednesday said in a written statement released on Twitter that Özer and Karakuş were removed from their posts “to facilitate the proper conduct of the investigation.”

A survey by the Ankara-based MetroPoll polling company revealed in February that 47.3 percent of Turks, including 34.3 percent of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP government voters and 43 percent of supporters of its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), stated that they want to either live or study abroad.

When the respondents were asked which country they would like themselves or their children to study in, 51.8 percent answered Western countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom or the United States. While 22.6 percent of Turks want to live or study in Germany, 16.6 percent want to live or study in the UK and 12.6 percent prefer the US, the survey results showed.

A similar survey conducted by the Social Democracy Foundation (SODEV) last year showed that 62.5 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 25, including 47.5 percent of supporters of the ruling AKP, said they preferred to live abroad, a sign which, experts think, shows they have lost their faith in the country’s future.

According to the same survey, 70.3 percent of respondents believe that “a brilliant young Turk” would never be promoted professionally in Turkey if he or she did not have any political and/or bureaucratic “connections.”

A total of 330,289 people left the country in 2019, according to official data from the state-run Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), with 40.8 percent of them between the ages of 20 and 34.

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