74 percent of Turkey 'lost hopes for EU'

74 percent of Turkey 'lost hopes for EU'

74 percent of Turkey lost hopes for EU

DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turks are entertaining ever-diminishing beliefs that their country will one day join the European Union, a recent poll has indicated, citing the financial crisis in the 17-nation eurozone and the reluctance of European leaders.

According to a poll conducted by the German-Turkish Foundation for Education and Scientific Research (TAVAK), around 74 percent of Turkish people do not believe the country will acquire EU membership.

The percentage of people who say “Turkey will become an EU member” witnessed a steep fall in 2012, decreasing from 34.8 percent to 17 percent in just a year.

The number of people who believe the country can join the EU moved up slightly this year to 19 percent, but the number remains very low compared to the beginning of membership negotiations in 2004.

The biggest driver behind the Turkish people’s loss of belief is their increasing economic confidence. Around two-thirds of respondents responded “no,” when they were asked whether Turkey economically needs the EU.

Both Turkey’s eye-catching success in diversifying export markets to unburden its reliance on the European market and the eurozone’s unrelieved financial troubles, which have taken the wind out of its sails, have impacted that, the report said.

European Union countries, which accounted for some 64 percent of Turkey’s exports in 2012, received only 34 percent of Turkish goods sent abroad in 2012. The EU is still the largest export partner of the country, but being able to raise its exports to new regions such as Africa, the share of which jumped to 34 percent last year from 2 percent in 2002, has boosted the country’s confidence.

In line with this perception, the emergence of the possibility of joining alternative organizations, such as the Shanghai Five, and creating new economic alliances, have reduced the EU’s lure for Turkey even further.

German negativity

Moreover, the reluctance of several powerful EU member countries, with Angela Merkel’s Germany at the top, has heightened the skepticism among the Turkish public, the poll results showed. In addition to this, growing Islamophobia and racism are other reservations.

Some 64 percent of survey respondents said they see Germany as the country constituting the largest obstacle in front of Turkey’s EU accession. While around a quarter of respondents see France as the biggest one, Greek Cyprus and Greece followed them at 5 and 4 percent, respectively.

Turkey’s membership bid has been virtually frozen for three years, held back by political obstacles and resistance in some EU countries, including German conservatives who object to Turkey’s accession on the grounds that its size would “overburden” the bloc.

The poll was conducted among 1,210 people between Aug. 20 and Sept. 2 in Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Kayseri, Diyarbakır and Artvin.