French conservative politicians reacted with outrage at the European Union’s recent announcement of the success of a €23.5 million demographic, pro-family project in Turkey.
The program, which features EU financial support for women’s employment through home-based childcare, ended with a conference hosted in Ankara. According to the EU, the project has kept 12,000 women in formal employment and offered home-based childcare services to over 5,300 children under the age of three.
French conservative MEP Nicolas Bay tweeted that “While the European Union refuses to take part in any natalist policy for Europeans, it supports births in Turkey!”
Another French MEP, Jean-Paul Garraud, co-founder of the French Popular Right movement within the National Rally, tweeted that “such an initiative is delirious when taking into account the worrying demographic evolution on our own continent where birth rates keep falling and where families would need more support than ever.”
He added that “The money of the European taxpayers should not be used to finance Brussels’ immigration ideologies.”
French conservatives point out that their own country’s childcare system is massively overburdened, with French parents waiting a year or more for a spot in a nursery. Much of the system is pressured due to the arrival of young migrant children along with the higher birthrate of France’s Muslim population. Data shows that there is currently a shortage of 230,000 childcare places in France.
The project in Turkey, funded by EU taxpayers to the tune of €25,472,000, offered support to select women to remain employed by paying educated babysitters to care for their children. It was co-financed by the Republic of Turkey and the European Union and implemented by the Social Security Institution. The project ran in Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir.
Turkey’s population already stands at 85 million, and the World Bank estimates the country’s population is set to reach 109 million by 2050. In contrast to European nations, Turkey’s population remains at replacement level, with Turks having approximately 2.05 children per family.
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Experts are warning that Turkey is facing issues related to population density, particularly in extremely crowded areas like Istanbul, which has also suffered from earthquakes in the past. An article in Hurriyet Daily News warned this year that “serious chaos could occur in the event of a possible natural disaster, (with) some experts (arguing) the population should be around 8 million for the city to be livable.” Currently, the population in the Istanbul metropolitan area is nearly double that number, totaling 15.8 million.
Some experts say the number is far higher than the official figures show.
“Although the official figures are announced as 16 million, the population of the city has exceeded 20 million. Neither land, nor air, nor water can suffice for such a population. Istanbul is heading towards collapse,” said Mikdat Kadıoğlu, an academic from Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ).
It just so happens that the EU’s pro-birth policy was targeted at Istanbul and other population-dense Turkish cities. Turkey is not a European Union member.
The Islamic hardline leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has also promoted a pro-natalist stance not only for Turks in his own country but also for Turks living in Europe, telling them in 2017, to “go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe. That will be the best response to the injustices against you.”
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Turks across Europe have responded enthusiastically to the strongman, with millions voting for Erdoğan in Turkey’s national elections, including majorities of the eligible voting population in Belgium and Germany.
Countries like Hungary, Sweden, France, and Germany feature a wide range of pro-natalist policies, but the European Union does not provide funding for these initiatives.