The geopolitical and strategic importance of the Republic of Turkey – established in 1923 by its founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – to the European Union, America, Russia, the Middle East, and Asia is undeniable. Being a central meeting point of the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa via the Mediterranean, and its membership of NATO, the Council of Europe, and its current accession talks with the European Union has meant that Turkey has become a significantly important partner for many states around the world.
According to the Turkish constitution, the word Turk, as a political term, includes all citizens of the Republic of Turkey without distinction of or reference to race or religion. Although more than nine-tenths of the population identify their religious identity as Muslim, Turkey is nonetheless a secular country. Certainly, in 1928 Islam was removed as the official state religion and since then, the military has maintained a vigilant watch over Turkey’s political secularism.
Culturally, as well as geographically, Turkey sits between the East and the West, drawing elements from both. The territory that now makes up the Republic of Turkey has been subject to an outstanding range of cultural influences which have left a rich archaeological legacy. Several locations of cultural significance have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites, including historic areas around Istanbul (Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Walls of Constantinople) and the old Hittite capital of Hattusha.
Foreign trade has played an increasingly important role in the Turkish economy since the Second World War. Approximately half of all trade is with Europe, with Germany being the primary trading partner. Russia and China are major sources of imports and significant trade also takes place with countries of the Middle East.
Turkey’s recent GDP growth record, its young and talented workforce, and its strategic location make the country an incredibly attractive destination for investors. Indeed, Turkey has one of the most promising real estate markets in Europe and thus offers great opportunities for real estate developers and investors. Urban renewal and mega projects dominate the agenda for the foreseeable future, particularly in Istanbul. Key projects in the city include, but are not limited to, Marmaray, Canal Istanbul, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, Eurasia Tunnel, and Istanbul’s 3rd airport.
Investment Opportunities and the Turkish Citizenship by Investment programme
The Turkish Citizenship by Investment programme is an “exceptional” way to obtain citizenship, and the aim is to promote foreign capital, create jobs, stimulate economy, and, in sum, to provide the support the state needs to achieve its goals with the power of foreign individuals. It can be said that the general purposes of all citizenship programmes in the world are similar. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to say that the results of citizenship programmes where the objectives are similar are the same in every country. Because even the traditional meaning attached to the word “citizenship” differs in each country. For this reason, it is vital to consider whether the society of the country will experience conflict with the foreign citizens who acquire citizenship or whether it will cause various legal, social, cultural, or political issues, and the details of the programme should be determined after considering in detail. Therefore, it should be remembered that the concept of dual citizenship, which has always maintained its popularity from the past to the present, will also bring with it some conflicts, discussions, and criticisms.
As a result of the reduction of the real estate investment criteria of 1,000,000 USD to 250,000 USD as of September 2018, the Turkish Citizenship Programme has become the most suitable passport-buying alternative in comparison to other Citizenship by Investment Programmes. In addition, the lack of donation requirements, which is the most basic criterion in all investment programmes, and the ability to sell the purchased real estate after 3 years are the other notable advantages. The option to invest 500,000 USD in bank deposits for the Turkish Citizenship Programme makes it easier for potential investors to have a second passport without taking virtually any investment risks, including currency risk. Although in comparison to some of the other alternative passports, it does not have the same amount of visa-free travel opportunities, it has been the most preferred citizenship programme over the last 2 years with 116 visa-free or visa-on-arrival entrance opportunities it provides, and with its favourable investment conditions.
One of the primary benefits of obtaining Turkish citizenship, and why the programme has been so successful and popular to date, are the countless opportunities to access other countries. The Turkish Citizenship by Investment programme is a great choice for foreign investors who want a direct route to relocate to the United States. By becoming a citizen of Turkey through the Turkish Citizenship by Investment programme – with a minimum investment of $250,000 into real estate – applicants can subsequently submit their E2 application in the US.
The E2 non-immigrant visa is a right granted only to citizens of countries that are parties to the agreement. Turkey became a member of this treaty in May 1990, and thus, by becoming a member, all Turkish citizens over the age of 18 (including those who obtained Turkish citizenship via the investment programme) can obtain the visa in the United States which is renewable indefinitely. The E2 visa grants the investor the right to live and invest in the United States if the applicant establishes a business or becomes a partner or takes over a business that exists in the United States. Requirements for the E2 investor visa are as follows:
- Being a national of a country that is a member of the treaty (as we have stated earlier, Turkey became a party to this treaty in May 1990.)
- Investing and committing a substantial amount in the USA, although the amount varies depending on the sector.
- The investor must be the owner of a business, a partner with a minimum share of 50% or a member of staff working in an important position.
Overall, Turkey is a fantastic location, alongside being a culturally rich country, for those who was a solid and secure investment with the added benefit of lifetime citizenship. As stated by London School of Economics professor, Dr. Kristin Surak: ‘Turkey will continue to build on its substantial success … Istanbul is a global city and Turkey a regional powerhouse. Its booming economy and emerging market status make it an interesting country for investors to engage with’.