Tuesday

27th Feb 2024

Greeks hostile towards Turkish EU bid

A majority of Greek citizens oppose Turkey's membership of the EU, according to a fresh poll.

Published on Sunday (28 May), just as Greece is celebrating 25 years of EU membership, the poll shows that 64 percent of Greek citizens interviewed want their country to "block" Turkey's bid to join the EU.

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  • Greek citizens oppose Turkey's bid to join the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

In Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece's second city, only 23.4 percent of those surveyed responded in favour of Turkey's accession to the EU.

But despite the hostility towards Ankara's bid, 52 percent of those surveyed said that relations between the two countries had improved in recent years while 39 percent said that relations had not improved.

The Greek government has also supported Ankara in its EU membership attempts.

The poll was conducted by Greek daily Ethnos over a period of three days, after a collision between Greek and Turkish jet fighters last Tuesday (23 May).

A Greek pilot lost his life in the crash and Athens blamed the accident on a dangerous manoeuvre by a Turkish F-16 in Greek air space.

For its part, Turkey accused the Greek air force of causing the accident by intervening in a Turkish exercise in international air space.

Positive signs from Italy

During the past weeks, Turkey has also been concerned about the position of the new centre-left Italian government on its EU bid.

This concern increased particularly after former prime minister Massimo D'Alema was appointed as Italy's foreign minister.

Mr D'Alema is one of the most unpopular Italian politicians in Turkey, after a diplomatic dispute between the two states in 1998, when Mr D'Alema was still Italy's prime minister.

In 1998, terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested at Rome airport and Mr D'Alema repeatedly refused to extradite Mr Ocalan to Turkey, a move that sparked the worst ever diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Rome.

But the early signs of Italy's new government policy have been positive for the Turks.

Giovanni Lorenzo Forcieri, the new undersecretary for the mnistry of defence, said that Europeans should wish for Turkey to join the EU, turkishdailynews.com reports.

"Turkey is a young country, and it has all the ingredients to enrich the EU," Mr Forcieri said in a symposium held in Florence.

"Turkey outside the EU can only make religious differences sharper and further radicalise extremists," he added.

Mr Forcieri insisted that the role of bridging Europe and Asia belonged to Turkey and said that he is "confident that the new Italian government is ready to work along these lines.

"I see no contradiction between what I say and what the foreign minister thinks," said Mr Forcieri when asked if his views reflect those of foreign minister Mr D'Alema.

EU member states agreed in October to open membership negotiations with Turkey, with actual accession having to be agreed by all members states unanimously.

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