17th Jul 2019

Most Turks keen to join EU

  • The Bosphorus: most of Turkey lies geographically outside Europe (Photo: EUobserver)

The majority of Turkish people today favour joining the EU despite worsening Franco-Turkish relations and a partial freeze on EU-Turkey accession talks.

Sixty two percent said they would vote "yes" to EU membership if there was a referendum, while 27 percent would vote "no," a May survey by Ankara's MetroPOLL research centre said.

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The "yes" vote was bolstered by political turmoil within Turkey, with the country's highest court currently threatening to ban the ruling, pro-EU, AKP party for breaking rules on secularism in state institutions.

Turkish support for the EU peaked at over two-thirds in late 2004. It declined after the opening of EU-Turkey accession talks in 2005, hitting lows of 30 percent in 2006, before creeping up to the 50 percent mark in late 2007.

"If it is constantly discussed in a general way whether Turkey belongs to Europe or not, then this will fuel Turkish people's feeling of not being wanted," Turkey's foreign minister, Ali Babacan, told German newspaper FAZ in an interview Sunday (1 June).

Turkey would itself be ready to join the EU by 2013, he added.

Mr Babacan's comments point toward French president Nicolas Sarkozy's frequent remarks that Turkey is not a "European" country in cultural terms, unlike EU enlargement hopeful Ukraine.

The French parliament last week supported calls to hold referendums on future EU membership of large countries such as Turkey, with Eurobarometer surveys suggesting several European countries would vote "no."

EU-Turkey accession talks are set to restart in late June in the areas of intellectual property rights and company law, but remain frozen in eight other areas due to Turkey's trade dispute with EU member Cyprus.

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