Insight Turkey
Insight Turkey
Challenging ideas
On Turkish politics and International affairs

Insight Turkey > Articles |

The Immigration of Russians and Azerbaijanis to Turkey: Who are They? Why are They Here?

Turkey in the recent years has become a destination for individuals from various regions, migration histories and experiences, with an explicit increase observed in the number of those coming from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Migrant groups coming to Turkey gather geographically in certain cities such as Antalya, a touristic city that has become an important migration destination, particularly for Russians and Azerbaijanis. The study aims to be acquainted with these migrants, who have been the subject of very few analyses, and to understand why they have immigrated to Antalya, substantially within framework of “Who are They?” and “Why are they Here?” It is based on data obtained from a comprehensive questionnaire applied to 418 Russian and Azerbaijani respondents. Moreover, the data is supported by observations, in-depth interviews and media analysis.

The Immigration of Russians and Azerbaijanis to Turkey Who are
First day of the school for Russian students in Antalya, Turkey. AA / Sefa Karacan

Background: Emergence of a Migration System

As an indication of the transformation that took shape after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its passage to a new economic system, new migration patterns have emerged throughout the post-Soviet territories since the early 1990s.2 Migration has been a vital strategy in coping with the living difficulties of the transition period. One stream of such migration has headed towards Turkey in order to carry out shuttle trade3and to work in economic sectors such as tourism, entertainment, textile and domestic work.4 

Russians and Azerbaijanis made up an important part of those immigrating to Turkey, which was based, at the beginning, on the same political-economic-social order changes as those coming from other former communist countries. The post-Soviet people initially arrived at the Black Sea coastal cities and the metropolis of Istanbul to work, and later began to migrate to some other large cities in Turkey, such as Ankara, İzmir and Bursa, and to touristic regions, such as Antalya, along the Mediterranean coast. Afterwards, both tourist (Figure 1) and migrant flows from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region to Antalya increased, in parallel with the development of political and economic relations between the CIS and Turkey. 

Beginning in the mid-1980s, a migration system emerged between Turkey and this region through the migrants’ ties to project by Turkish construction companies, which had been undertaking business in the former Soviet Union.5 This system further developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, thanks to the good political-economic relations between Turkey and post-Soviet countries, and migrant flows that had been accompanied by counter-flows. These flows of people added a new dimension to the migration system between the two regions, depending on tourism, and in recent years Antalya and its surrounding area began to be an important component of this migration system. 

Figure 1. Tourist flows from the CIS and Russian Federation to Turkey, 1988-2010

The international migration system is a structure which emerges with migrant flows and counter-flows between two countries, contributed by other connections such as colonialism, social interaction, trade, investment and culture.6 This system takes form and shape through the interaction of macrostructures, containing the world market’s political economy, international relations as well as immigration and migrant law and practices as issued by the sending/receiving countries, with the microstructures covering the informal social networks which the migrants themselves have developed in an effort to cope with migration and settlement issues. As for meso-structures, they act as intermediary between individuals, groups or institutions, migrants, and political and economic institutions. Macrostructures of the regional migration system between Turkey and Eastern Europe, Central and Northern Asia7 are based on three factors. The first factor is the mutually good relations built with the independent states, which started in the mid-1980s and developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union; they resulted in a great number of bilateral and multilateral agreements (on visa, property acquisition, trade, etc.). The second factor is the cultural bond that Turkish-origin communities within the former Soviet Union revived once gaining independence, in which the Turkish language and common cultural practices play an important role. The third factor is the social-cultural relations between citizens of the former Soviet Union owing to a common language (Russian) and administration-organization practices, which affect their manners of life and behavior, both individually and communally. This effect is clearly observable in the flow of migrants from CIS countries to Turkey and these people’s aggregation in certain Turkish cities.

Azerbaijanis and Russians in Turkey have so far been under-researched, despite their increasing numbers, which has made their presence more apparent, and their growing participation in Turkish social life

In this migration system, the main framework of which is drawn by macrostructures, good relations between states have impacted tourism as well, along with mutual trade, and in the course of time caused tourism to play a key role in the system. In this study, we focus on Russians and Azerbaijanis, two migrant groups that take part in a tourism-based migration system between the post-Soviet territories and Antalya. Furthermore, we analyze certain characteristics and migration experiences at a micro-level as part of the social networks that contribute to the formation of the migration system.

We will begin this study with a short background, which examines the emergence of a new migration system, proceeding by a description of the method and data. As for the findings of the study, we organize them under two sections. To get acquainted with the Russian and Azerbaijani migrants, who have been the subject of very few studies, and to understand why they immigrate to Antalya, we seek the answers to the following questions: “Which basic attributes do the migrants have?”, “Are the migrants working?”, “If yes, what are they doing for a living?”, “What are they doing with their income?”, “What are the basic characteristics of migration processes?”, “Why are they coming to Antalya?”, and “Where do they want to live in the future?” all under the main topics of “Who are they?” and Why are they here?” Finally, we conclude the study with a short assessment. 

With the aim to understand the participants in tourism-led migration8- defined by temporary or permanent migration to a place which has been visited previously for touristic purposes, owing to the attractiveness and opportunities of the touristic destination - from Russia and Azerbaijan to Antalya, this study is based on data obtained as a result of a comprehensive questionnaire and interviews with migrants during a four-month field study in Antalya from July to October 2013.9 At the end of the field study, a comprehensive questionnaire was applied to 418 people, 209 of which were Russian and 209 of which were Azerbaijani. In addition, migrants of different attributes, such as head of association, student, housewife and salesperson, were interviewed. We also include observations and interviews, some statistics from government offices and certain media coverage in regard to these two migrant groups.

The high number of Russian female migrants is probably grounded in social norms created by the former Soviet regime through equalitarian education and work practices

Data obtained from the questionnaires were transferred in proper format to the database of the SPSS 18 statistics program. Afterwards, the variables of the survey questions were determined among such data, the relevant frequency tables developed and descriptive analyses carried out. In addition, we tried to measure the degree of influence that a series of factors could have had on the decision to migrate through a 25-question Likert scale. Using the data set composing of these 25 variables, which question the basis for migration, factor analyses were carried out individually for both migrant groups, and the means have been checked out to determine the most important reasons for migration. Finally, the analysis results were construed in relation to the literature. 



Who are They?

Azerbaijanis10 and Russians11 in Turkey have so far been under-researched, despite their increasing numbers, which has made their presence more apparent, and their growing participation in Turkish social life. One of the central issues of international population movements – other than the regulation of international migration – is the influence of increasing ethnical differences on host societies. Migrants are often different than such societies in respect to traditions, religion, institutions, culture, physical appearance or way of dressing.12 Though it is assumed that Azerbaijanis resemble Turks in respect to ethnicity, religion, language and cultural practices whereas Russians do not share such similarities, diversity is determined by individual characteristics, migration experiences and transnational practices of the two migrant groups. This, at the same time, leads to differences in the typology of migration.

What are the Migrants’ Basic Attributes?

Gender Structure: According to the data from the field study, the percentage of females is high (83 percent) within Russian respondents, while Azerbaijanis indicate a more balanced range. Other sources also indicate that females are actively participating in the immigration of Russians to Antalya.13 The high number of Russian female migrants is probably grounded in social norms created by the former Soviet regime through equalitarian education and work practices. Russian women in Antalya are self-sufficient and independent individuals, who believe in gender mainstreaming and can stand on their own feet, bravely participating in international migration thanks to the self-confidence and skills that such norms provide.14

Other factors are important in the gender structure of Azerbaijani respondents. First, immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union, professionals such as academicians and artists have participated in the “brain drain” from Azerbaijan to Antalya. This movement later turned into family formation.15 Secondly, men who were not allowed to bring their spouses with them due to the bureaucratic obstacles for Azerbaijanis to obtain citizenship in Turkey, or who postponed marriage until after migration, have participated in permanent and circular labor migration. Such gender patterns imply, to an extent, that Russians are inclined towards female labor migration and marriage migration,16 and Azerbaijanis towards male labor migration and family migration. 

Age Structure: The average age of respondents is 35 for Azerbaijanis and 37 for Russians. For both groups, a significant portion of the respondents (80 percent and 82 percent, respectively) are below the age of 45. In particular, there is an observable concentration of the age group 25-34 (41 percent and 46 percent, respectively). The percentage of the Azerbaijanis under the age of 25 is relatively more (20 percent) due to the number of single and student migrants (Figure 2).

               Figure 2. Age structures of Russian and Azerbaijani respondents

Marital Status: While the percentage of single Russian migrants is only 14 percent, 27 percent of Azerbaijani respondents were single. However, at the same time, married people constitute the majority in both migrant groups; 55 percent of Azerbaijanis and 64 percent of Russians are married. Slightly more than half of Russian participants and one-third of Azerbaijani participants are married to a Turk. Eighty percent of the spouses of the members of both groups live in Antalya. Marriage is a way for migrants to obtain residence permits and eventually to be entitled to citizenship. A study carried out several years ago17 noted that the percentage of married Russian migrants was very low (13 percent). Therefore, the high percentage of married respondents in our study may be considered as an indicator of the Russian migrants’ settlement trend.

Tourism plays a key role, directly or indirectly, in the migration of Russians and Azerbaijanis to Antalya

Educational Level: Educational levels of both Azerbaijani and Russian respondents are high. The percentage of Russian respondents with a bachelor’s, masters or doctoral degree reaches up to 90 percent. Although the percentage of Azerbaijanis with higher degrees is 63 percent, more Azerbaijani respondents graduated high school and occupational high school than Russians (32 percent and 10 percent, respectively). Such percentages point out that both migrant groups, especially Russians, are well-educated. The fact that migrants are well-educated positively affects the quality of their occupations and their income.

Religion: Answers given by the Russian respondents to the question regarding their religion indicated that 72 percent of them are Christian, 11 percent of them are surprisingly Muslims and two percent are Jewish. Fourteen percent of Russian respondents chose not to answer the question. Some of the Russian migrants probably converted to Islam when they married a Turk. Of the Azerbaijani respondents, 97 percent are Muslims and three percent did not answer the question. Some of the Russian migrants have probably converted to Islam once having married a Turk.

Language: The migrants’ proficiency in Turkish not only facilitates better integration, but also enhances their economic opportunities. More than half of the Russian respondents have good or advanced levels of Turkish and less than 10 percent of migrants experience problems with Turkish. Of the Azerbaijanis, 97 percent could read and write Turkish on good or advanced level. Three out of four Russians learned Turkish by attending a course in Antalya and practicing. As for Azerbaijanis, most of them learned Turkish in their country and improved their linguistic level by practicing.

Legal status: Of the Russian respondents, 12 percent hold work permits, 15 percent have touristic visa and 21 percent obtained Turkish citizenship. Those with residence permit are the biggest group (42 percent). According to Turkish laws, foreigners owning properties may obtain a residence permit to be renewed annually. This legal right provides an important base for actual and potential migrants to be able to stay in Antalya.

On the other hand, among Azerbaijani respondents, 12 percent have work permits, 14 percent have education permits (students stay in Turkey even during holidays) and 18 percent have a visa (this group participates more in circular migration). Those who have obtained citizenship are the biggest group among Azerbaijani respondents (45 percent). This is probably due to the fact that Turkish origin foreigners who came to Turkey after the collapse of the Soviet Union have been granted citizenship relatively easier.

Are the Migrants Working? If So, What are They Doing for a Living?

It is important to analyze the labor market participation level of migrants in Antalya, the occupation he/she has, his/her status in the occupation, the period he/she works, the income he/she earns and the way he/she utilizes this income. It is important because which jobs the migrants find in the labor market, whether their occupation in their origin country was different and where and how they utilize their income correlate not only to the future of the migrant, but also to the future of migration to Antalya.

Labor Market Participation: Of the researched migrant groups, the Azerbaijani respondents have a higher percentage of employment in relation to Russians; the labor market participation rate of Azerbaijanis is 72 percent, while that of Russians is 53 percent. It must be added that a portion (10 percent) of the Russians stated that although they were not working at the time of interview, they had a job attachment.18

Occupations: The range of the Russian and Azerbaijani respondents’ occupations in their home countries and in Antalya indicates a quite remarkable pattern. Professional jobs such as teaching, engineering, architecture and management rank first among the occupations that the Russian respondents hold in Antalya (42 percent), followed by service and sales (mostly tourism-based) positions (23 percent).19 Considering that the latter represented 12 percent of the occupations which the migrants held in their origin country, it might be concluded that some Russian respondents failed to find an occupation eligible for their qualifications in Antalya and suffered a considerable loss of quality. However, as the number of Russian managers and technicians increased by 14 percent in Antalya, it appears that they generally hold qualified occupations at a high-level. On the other hand, the percentage of those holding positions in professional occupations and office services has receded, while the number of those working as managers, technicians and particularly in the service and sales industry has grown (Figure 3). The latter is probably due to the fact that the newcomers are working in jobs created by the tourism sector. Generally speaking, although there might be a partial loss of qualification in occupations held as a result of migration, this loss is not at extensive for Russian respondents. Taking into consideration the fact that migrants generally occupy the lowest jobs of the receiving country’s labor force market and the legal obstacles for foreigners to work in Turkey, it is interesting that Russian respondents nearly maintain the employment pattern of their origin country, which is specific to this migrant group. The fact that Russians fill the vacancies in the Turkish labor market, are successful in creating new economic opportunities and constitute a community with a powerful social capital probably plays a role in this extraordinary situation.

Figure 3. Occupations of Russian respondents in the sending and receiving countries 

On the other hand, although indicating a tendency to work in more lines of business than Russians in Antalya, 60 percent of Azerbaijani respondents are working explicitly in services and sales. Yet, 50 percent of Azerbaijanis had participated in professional occupations in their own country before migration. This critical change in the employment sector suggests that Azerbaijani migrants consent to a clear loss of qualification, and perhaps to low qualifying jobs (Figure 4). When jobs done by migrants are examined in detail, this scene becomes clearer.

Figure 4. Occupations of Azerbaijani respondents in the sending and receiving countries

Occupational Status: Some important attributes of the respondents in respect to occupational status may be determined, and one difference between the two migrant groups may be pointed out. 61 percent of the Russian respondents have a regular employee status, and about 2 percent of them have an irregular employee status. However, at the same time, 21 percent are employers, 12.5 percent are self-employed (including irregularly) and four percent are unpaid family workers.20 This occupational status pattern indicates that the Russian migrants are better positioned in work life and hold an important position in transnationalism by owning ethnic businesses. 

On the other hand, the same could not be said for Azerbaijani respondents, of whom 78 percent work regularly and seven percent work irregularly. The total share of employers (8 percent), self-employed (5 percent) and unpaid family workers (1 percent) remains insignificant when compared to those who have a regular employment status.

What are They Doing with their Income?

Income and Investment: There is no doubt that the income earned by the migrants against the occupations they hold is of vital importance for the actual living and future plans of the migrant and his/her family, and even for the continuity of the migration pattern thanks to the positive feedback that it would create in the origin region about the migrant’s wealth. At the time when the field research was conducted, minimum wage in Turkey was slightly over 280 Euro (€). The monthly income of 82 percent of Russian respondents is above 700 €. Furthermore, the monthly wage of 42 percent of the respondents in this group is more than four times the minimum wage (Figure 5). In contrast, 57 percent of the Azerbaijani respondents earn less than 700 € monthly and the monthly income of only 15.5 percent of them exceeds 1125 €. This variation in income reflects the difference in the quality of occupations held by migrant groups. Accordingly, when income and other social status indicators are considered together, we can assert that Russian migrants probably live better lives in Antalya, and at least half of the Azerbaijani migrants do not possess such conditions. 

Figure 5. Monthly income of Russian and Azerbaijani respondents according to income groups 

Remittance and Investment: It is also useful to consider migrants’ remittances to their origin country, as well as investments in both the origin country and destination country, as an indicator of economic transnationalism. Twenty-four percent of Russian respondents stated that they make regular and irregular money transfer to their country. Nevertheless, the percentage of Russian migrants who invest in their origin country reaches up to 36 percent, while the percentage that invests in Antalya is about 57 percent. Russians stated that they mostly buy houses and land in their country (24 percent), and houses (48 percent) and businesses (13 percent) in Antalya. Additionally, they make investments in Antalya through bank deposits (12 percent). Such investment indicators may point out that the tendency of Russians to settle and form a transnational community is high. Besides, it is important in respect of the origin country bond that one-fourth of migrants make remittance to their origin country.

The percentage of Azerbaijani respondents that send remittances to their origin country is relatively higher than that of Russians (31 percent). Also, interviews showed that those who participated in circular migration brought money with them back to their origin country. The percentage of Azerbaijani migrants that deposit money in the banks in Antalya (16 percent) may be related to this. The percentage of the Azerbaijanis migrants who invest in their origin country reaches up to 18 percent, while 37 percent invests in Antalya. The fact that the percentage of those who make investments among Azerbaijanis is relatively less than the other migrant group might be related to the fact that their income is lower. Yet still, buying houses (27 percent) and businesses (8 percent) in Antalya is prominent among the investments of this migrant group, while all other investments apart from buying houses in their own country (12 percent) seem insignificant.



Why are They Here?

What are Some Basic Attributes of the Migration Process?

Origin Region: In international migration systems, the connections established between the sending and receiving countries and the feedback mechanisms thereof play an important role in the persistence of migration. Where migrants come from must be considered within the establishment and development of migrant networks as a type of social capital. According to the results of field research, the tendency of Russian and Azerbaijani respondents to migrate from specific regions of the origin country is high. The Russians participants came to Antalya from 52 different cities and the Azerbaijanis migrated from 19 different cities. The great majority of participating Russian immigrants are from Moscow (32 percent), St. Petersburg (14 percent), Ekaterinburg (six percent) and Omsk (four percent). Even though we do not have conclusive evidence, it seems that there is a relationship between important airway connection points, established for touristic travel between Turkey and Russia, and the places where migrants come from. For Azerbaijani respondents, Baku (61 percent) is the primary source region, followed by Sumgait with 16 percent, Nakhichevan with eight percent and Shaki with eight percent. 

First Arrival Reason: Tourism plays a key role, directly or indirectly, in the migration of Russians and Azerbaijanis to Antalya. It is the basic motivating factor of the micro-migration system between Russia and Turkey. This activity has multiple impacts on the formation and development of the migration system. Touristic travel principally helps migrants overcome the feeling of strangeness in the destination country, provides information on the community and place, and enables migrants to make friends and establish business relationships. Secondly, the increase in the number of tourists from the origin country to the destination region creates a demand for a labor force that can speak the same language (e.g., Russian). Thus, it opens the way for some tourists to find a job in the destination region. Tourist activity also attracts students willing to do an internship in touristic facilities, elders who wish to spend their retirement in a certain place depending on their holiday experiences and investors because of the business opportunities provided. In addition, relationship between some tourists and locals might result in marriage immigration.

Among the reasons why Russian respondents chose Antalya as their living place are economic-based factors, such as various business opportunities, demand for a Russian-speaking labor force and expectation for good earning

Therefore, the reasons for immigrants’ first arrival in Antalya offer significant information in terms of the occurrence of immigration and the circularity of movement. The proportion of Russian respondents who come to Antalya for touristic travel is very high (61 percent), and is followed by work, partner visit (11 percent) and friend/relative visit (nine percent). The proportion of migration for educational and settlement purposes is quite low (Figure 6). Such percentages clearly reveal the importance of touristic travels for Russian migrants in terms of establishing a connection with the destination region. In fact, many Russian respondents decided to live in Antalya after a few holiday travels. Antalya connection of Russians, which started with touristic travels in the early 1990s, turns into labor migration through local connections and partner relationships, and sometimes into marriage migration. 

There are various reasons for Azerbaijani respondents to come to Antalya for the first time, but it was not concentrated around a single factor. However, the primary reason for visit is work (24 percent), followed by touristic travel (23 percent), friend/relative visit (16 percent) and education (14 percent). Interestingly, there are some Azerbaijani respondents who came directly to settle (Figure 6). Such circumstance is probably related to the fact that academicians, artists and some professionals have come to Turkey for directly settlement purposes, through incentives by Turkish government, due to the intimacy between Turkey and Azerbaijan after collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, cultural affinity between Azerbaijanis and Turkish society may have diversified the reason for their first visit. However, observations show that even touristic travels of Azerbaijanis might result in working. Thus, Azerbaijanis might be directly part of the labor mobility during their first visit to Antalya. Circular labor force movement (temporal migration) depending on the tourism season has been remarkable in recent years due to Azerbaijanis’ ability to speak both Russian and Turkish.

Figure 6. Reasons for Russian and Azerbaijani Respondents’ First Arrival to Antalya

Staying Period: In the past, migrants have had the tendency to work in simpler, short-term jobs. They used to come to Turkey frequently with a tourist visa and stay for indefinite periods of time but within the validity of their visa.21 However, due to the expansion of migrants’ social networks and a growing number of marriages with Turkish citizens, as well as amendments to legislation on visas, property acquisition and foreign capital investment in favor of migrants, migrants have extended their staying period in Antalya; they have even become permanent residents. Currently, 63 percent of Russian respondents and 65 percent of Azerbaijani respondents spend the whole year in Antalya. Recently, possessions and business investments have become effective in forming new migration and mobility forms (e.g., retirement migration, family migration and extended holiday movements). Nonetheless, the tendency of some Azerbaijani labor immigrants, who work as salespersons, to stay in the country in excess of their visa periods is increasing.

Why Do They Come to Antalya?

Results of data analysis show that the most important factors for Russian respondents when choosing Antalya as a migration destination were hot climate and good environmental conditions, touristic attractiveness, good and livable country image of Turkey, tolerance to foreigners, ease of establishing social relationships, previous positive experiences (e.g., holiday and education), the presence of a high number of foreigners and the will to explore new places and people, respectively. Among the reasons why Russian respondents chose Antalya as their living place are economic-based factors, such as various business opportunities, demand for a Russian-speaking labor force and expectation for good earning. However, in their decision to immigrate to Antalya, they paid more attention to social and geographical factors. Therefore, immigration of Russian respondents to Antalya has socio-spatial meanings beyond being part of a labor movement. Their most important motivations referred to the tourist migration system between Russia and Turkey.

In recent years, Turkey has accepted circular and permanent immigrants from different countries, varying in ethnicity and religion. Thus, Turkey has begun to shift from an emigrating country into a host country

The most important factors that motivated Azerbaijani respondents to immigrate to Antalya were cultural affinity with Turkish society, geographical proximity to Turkey, speaking the Turkish language, good country image of Turkey, easiness of establishing social/human relationships, recommendation by family, relatives and friends, various business opportunities and expectation for good earning, respectively. In making the decision to migrate, Azerbaijanis’ highlighted ethnic, linguistic, religious and other cultural properties, which are related to the first four motivations and the spatial proximity of the two countries, indicating that migration flows between Turkey and Azerbaijan is remarkably related to cultural ties. Furthermore, the second migration motivation for Azerbaijanis is networks and economic reasons. This implies that the migrant networks in both sending and receiving countries provide a continuity of migration and that Azerbaijani migration includes a subsistence strategy through circular movements.

Where Do They Want to Live in the Future?

The answer to such a question is closely related to whether such migration is permanent or temporary, the development of the migration system and the formation and development of a transnational community. This question is essential for understanding the spatial plans of migrants for the future. The majority of the respondents from both migrant groups expressed that they would like to live in Antalya. That percentage increases when adding those who would like to live in another Turkish city.



Concluding Remarks

In recent years, Turkey has accepted circular and permanent immigrants from different countries, varying in ethnicity and religion. Thus, Turkey has begun to shift from an emigrating country into a host country. Those who come from CIS countries, especially Russia and Azerbaijan, are increasing in number and tending to aggregate in Antalya, an important international tourist city. Owing to this tendency, tourism-led migration systems are emerging between Russia and Turkey as well as Azerbaijan and Turkey. 

The movement of some Russian immigrants has turned from tourist into circular labor migration, and now into permanent migration via marriages. The fact that the rate of Russian women married to Turkish men has increased in comparison to former studies indicates this. Children who are born out of mix-marriages are raised with bicultural practices. Russian immigrants are different than Turkish society in language, religion, physical appearance, demographical features and life style. However, Russian immigrants are learning Turkish in short periods of time, participating in the social life of Antalya, and rapidly accessing the economic, political and social opportunities that the city offers, owing to their high educational levels and integration skills. They are working in qualified jobs, despite diploma equivalency and restrictions on foreigners working in Turkey. Moreover, Russian women married to Turkish men are opening workplaces in Antalya, dealing with new professional businesses in the city, displaying entrepreneur profiles and thus earning more income. On the other hand, Russian women preserve their Russian identities through immigrant associations, strengthening their communal links as well as their relations with the local people, gaining a corporate identity for self-expression. In summary, Russians who migrated for a better life have attained to their goals in Antalya. 

Among Azerbaijani immigrants, there is a core group who are well-educated/qualified or who make touristic investments in Antalya. In addition, immigrants, mostly comprising of young men who work in unqualified jobs (such as salesmanship) depending on tourism, are part of the circular movement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. The number of Azerbaijani immigrants who are married to Turks is quite few. Azerbaijanis living in Antalya do not have as much consideration for protecting their identities as Russians do, as they have the same ethnical origin and socio-cultural similarities with Turkish society, such as language, religion, tradition and lifestyle. However, depriving of the legal and social statuses that Russian women acquire by way of marrying Turkish men, the majority of the Azerbaijanis prefer getting lost to making their appearance. This is influenced by the weak communal link among Azerbaijani and non-functional nature of corporate structures such as associations, which leads Azerbaijanis to try to solve their problems individually.

Taking into consideration the wishes of both Russians and Azerbaijanis to acquire property and make business investments in Antalya, to spend most of the year in Antalya and to send their children to Turkish schools, their tendency to become permanent residents in Antalya may be emphasized. Immigrants are in agreement about the good living conditions, both in social and physical terms, in Antalya, as well as the continuous business opportunities that the city offers. This information, which is transferred to root countries through immigrant networks, encourages the participation of new people in the migration system. 




  1. This study is produced from the project “Immigration from Russia and Azerbaijan to Turkey and Formation of Transnational Social Space in Antalya” that supported by TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Research Council of Turkey).
  2. See Ahmet İçduygu, The International Migration Systems Between Turkey and Russia: The Case of Project-Tied Migrant Workers in Moscow, (CARIM Research Reports, 2009/18). 
  3. To read more about this issue please see H.Deniz Yükseker’ book ‘Laleli-Moskova Mekiği: Kayıtdışı Ticaret ve Cinsiyet İlişkileri,’ (İstanbul: İletişim, 2003).
  4. Sema Erder and Selmin Kaşka, Irregular Migration and Trafficking in Women: The Case of Turkey ( Geneva: International Organization for Migration, 2003).
  5. For more on this concept see Ahmet İçduygu and Ayşem Biriz Karaçay, “The International Migration Systems Between Turkey and Russia: Project-tied Migrant Workers in Moscow,” International Migration, Vol. 50, No. 1, (2012), p. 55-74. 
  6. See Douglas S. Massey, Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino and J. Edward Taylor, Worlds in Motion: Understanding International Migration at the End of the Millennium (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998).
  7. Ayşem Biriz Karaçay and Frank Düvell, “Towards New Migration Systems, Patterns and Policies in Eurasia: The Case of Turkey and the Russian Federation,” Full programme – COMPAS, University of Oxford, retrieved 11. 23, 2013, from
  8. World Tourism Organization-UNWTO, “Tourism and Migration: Exploring the Relationship Between Two Global Phenomena,” Executive Summary 2009, retrieved 10. 15, 2013, from
  9. During the field study, we accommodated in a location at an equal distance to places where Russians and Azerbaijanis living in Antalya are centring around. During this period we observed the day-to-day activities and significant cultural activities of the two migrant groups, and different spatial units such as the district bazaars they shop from, their workplaces, entertainment venues, the schools where their children get education, the parks, the municipalities’ culture halls, centres of migrant associations. In the implementation of questionnaires, care has been taken to reach respondents with different characteristics at different regions of the city. Within this period, local connections such as the home-town associations of Russians in Antalya (e.g. The Russian Friendship and Culture Association, The Russian Culture and Art Association), Metropolitan Municipality of Antalya, and such employers who employ migrants have acted as intermediary in the connection with interviewers, and therefore, respondents have been reached substantially by means of the several snowball sampling methods.
  10. Saniye Dedeoğlu, “Garment Ateliers and Women Workers in Istanbul: Wives, Daughters and Azerbaijani Immigrants.” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 47, No. 4, (2011a), p. 663–674. Saniye Dedeoğlu, “Türkiye’de Göçmenlerin Sosyal Dışlanması: İstanbul’da Hazır-Giyim Sanayinde Çalışan Azerbaycanlı Göçmen Kadınlar Örneği,” Ankara Üniversitesi SBF Dergisi, Vol. 66, No.1, (2011b), p. 27-48.
  11. For more about this please see Ayla Deniz and E.Murat Özgür, “Rusya’dan Türkiye’ye Ulusaşırı Göç: Antalya’daki Rus Göçmenler,” Ege Coğrafya Dergisi, Vol. 19, No. 1, (2010), p. 13-30. A. Deniz, “Rusya’dan Antalya’ya Ulusaşırı Göç ve Bu Göçün Sosyo-Mekânsal Sonuçları,” unpublished Master thesis, Ankara University. 2012. Ayla Deniz and E. Murat Özgür, “Antalya’daki Rus Gelinler: Göçten Evliliğe, Evlilikten Göçe,” İstanbul Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Dergisi, Vol. 27, No. 2, (2013), p. 151-175.
  12. Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller, Göçler Çağı: Modern Dünyada Uluslararası Göç Hareketleri, (İstanbul: İstanbul Bilgi University Press, 2008). 
  13. The Census of 2000 indicates that women hold 61 percent within people born in the Russian Federation and residing in Antalya (Deniz, 2012); Records of the General Directorate of Security indicate the percentage of Russian citizen women with residence permit between the years 2007-2010 to be 65-70 percent; field studies held on various dates indicate the percentage of Russian women to be 91 percent (Deniz and Özgür, 2010), 73 percent (Deniz, 2012).
  14. Deniz and Özgür, “Antalya’daki Rus Gelinler: Göçten Evliliğe, Evlilikten Göçe,” p. 155.
  15. Dedeoğlu’s (2011) study indicates that Azerbaijani families in Istanbul have come to Turkey in an effort to find better working and living conditions than in Nakhichevan and Baku.
  16. What meant by marriage migration is the fact that the Russian women who come to Antalya for temporary working purposes become permanent in the city when their relationships with their partners turn, after a while, into marriage.
  17. For more about this see Deniz and Özgür, “Rusya’dan Türkiye’ye Ulusaşırı Göç: Antalya’daki Rus Göçmenler,” p. 19.
  18. An individual’s not working but still being connected to work means that person’s temporary failure to work due to reasons such as sickness, vacation or travel, while still being connected to the job. 
  19. This is a really important finding as it shows that tourism generates subsequent labour immigration.
  20. The expression “unpaid family worker” covers those who work in family establishments, not housewives.
  21. See comments by Sema Erder, “Yabancısız Kurgulanan Ülkenin Yabancıları,” F. Aylan Arı (ed.), Türkiye’de Yabancı İşçiler - Uluslararası Göç, İşgücü ve Nüfus Hareketleri, (İstanbul: Derin, 2007), p. 1-82.

Labels »  

We use cookies in a limited and restricted manner for specific purposes. For more details, you can see "our data policy". More...