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Turkey's Views of the European Union in 2011

Turkey's Views of the European Union in 2011

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This policy brief analyzes the Turkish results from the 2011 Transatlantic Trends survey.
This policy brief analyzes the Turkish results from the 2011 Transatlantic Trends survey.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Sep 21, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/13/2015

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Summary:
Turkish public opinionseems to have changed, withan increasing number of surveyrespondents saying that joining  the EU would be a good thing.
Transatlantic Trends
has alsodiscovered that the Turkishpublic has become less enthu-siastic about going it alone inconducting foreign policy. Publicopinion is changed by domesticand national events of the time,and it is anything but stable.Changes in the media coverageof foreign affairs and the Euro-pean treatment of Muslims and
Turks will have a major infuence
on how the Turkish public willrespond to the next
TransatlanticTrends
survey. The Turkish atti- tudes toward the EU will becomemore relevant when and if anygenuine progress takes place in the negotiations between the EUand Turkey.
Analysis
 Turkey’s Views of the European Unionin 2011
by 
Ersin Kalaycıoğlu
September 21, 2011
W
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Offices
Analysis
It was somewhat surprising to observein the GMF
Transatlantic Trends
 Survey or 2011that urkish publicopinion seems to have changed in animportant way. “Tis year, there was aten-point increase in the percentage o urks who thought urkish member-ship in the EU would be a good thing(48 percent). Troughout the years,urkish public opinion has trendeddownward on this topic, but thiswas some o the highest support orurkish membership in the EU since2006” (p. 38). However, based on theplethora o other urkish data, thesurvey concluded that they “revealeda more Europe-riendly urkishpublic in some respects, but also onethat had a strong desire to work withurkey’s Middle East neighbors” (p.38).
Transatlantic Trends
has alsodiscovered that the urkish public hasbecome less enthusiastic about going italone in conducting oreign policy, andyet continues, again with less enthu-siasm than 2010 to stick with urkey’ssouthern (Middle Eastern) neighbors.At the same time, they want to pursueull membership in the EU with morehope. What explains such an increasein Europhile attitudes among theurks?
Turkish Rapprochement to the EU?
Transatlantic Trends
does not providea clue about why 48 percent o theurks thought it was a good thing orurkey to become a member o theEU. While this is an upswing rom thedip o 2010, i the chart on page 37 o the survey is examined more closely,the long-term trend is that a hugely positive attitude in 2004 (when 73percent registered a positive view o EU membership o urkey) droppedto 40 percent in 2007, increased to48 percent in 2009, dropped to 38percent in 2010, and then returned to48 percent this year. Te long-termtrend, assuming that the samples arecomparable, is that an unrealisticpositive mood toward the EU at thetime o the start o the ull member-ship accession negotiations seemsto have lost pace over the years andcame to a standstill by the end o 2009, when only 13 out o 35 chap-ters could be negotiated and only theone on science and research could betemporarily closed (duly processed).When urkey nally decided to assigna special cabinet minister as a chie negotiator in January 2009, the gestureon the part o the urkish governmentbreathed new lie into the moribundaccession negotiations. But by 2010,it became clear that even the new
 
Analysis
2
 
Analysis
The AKP vote seems to becorrelated with a pro-EU stanceof the voters. It looks as if whenAKP support surged to close to50 percent, so did the attitudes toward the EU.
chie negotiator, Egemen Bağış, was getting rustrated, ashe began publicly to threaten and ume against the EUand EU member countries. Te media in urkey increasedreporting in 2009 and 2010 that the accession negotia-tions were being blocked unairly by French and Cypriot(Greek) vetoes. Te negativism in the declarations o boththe government spokespersons and o the media seemed tohave made an impact on the responses given by the peopleto
Transatlantic Trends
in 2010.Te urkish mood toward the EU has become moremarginal and sanguine, as the urkish economy continuedto register relatively high growth rates aer 2009 even aseurozone countries, especially Greece ollowed by Portugaland Ireland, began to show signs o economic disaster.In 2011, urkish national elections were also won by theJustice and Development Party (AKP), which has builta Europhile image among the voters. In a recent article(“Public Choice and oreign Aairs: Democracy and Inter-national Relations in urkey,”
New Perspectives on Turkey
, vol. 40 May 2009: 59-83), this author has shown that thereis some empirical evidence that the only oreign policy issuethat has any impact on the AKP’s support at the polls wasthe support or EU membership o urkey. Te AKP voteseems to be correlated with a pro-EU stance o the voters. Itlooks as i when AKP support surged to close to 50 percent,so did the attitudes toward the EU.It is also a matter o act that the Republican People’sParty’s (CHP) earlier Euroscepticism seems to have some-what subsided since the change o leadership in that party rom Deniz Baykal to Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu in 2010. Tenew leader, Kılıçdaroğlu, and associates are more avor-ably disposed toward the EU, as has been evident in their visits to EU headquarters in Brussels, contacts with theEU ocials in urkey and Europe, and their declarationsin the media. Te divide over the issue o EU member-ship between the AKP government and the CHP opposi-tion seemed to have dwindled since 2010. Consequently,ewer voters have been hearing Eurosceptic or Europhobicmessages rom the main party leaders in the country in thelast two years.Te overall image o the country seems to have alsoimproved rom 2010 to 2011, as the economy receivesplaudits or its perormance at home and abroad, and sodoes the image o Prime Minister Erdoğan and his party,who seem to boost public support or any issue that they stand or, whether it is the Middle East (Gaza and Pales-tine, Gadda or the Libyan ransitional National Council),the United States, or the EU. urkey in the eyes o theurkish voters does not seem to look poor any longer; itseems to be more respected and possess more so powerin the world. When the prime minister and other memberso the government speak, the world seems to pay moreattention, particularly since the 2009 Davos “one minute”incident between Erdoğan and President Peres o Israel.
Transatlantic Trends
also indicates that although the sizeo the country, with 75 million inhabitants, is still seen as aproblem, the preponderance o Muslims in urkey seemsnot to carry much weight in the assessment o entry intothe EU, either in the eyes o the urks or the Europeans. Tecurrent enriched and empowered image o the country inthe eyes o its citizens seems to have improved their evalua-tion o the chances o urkish entry as a ull member in theEU as well.Te EU and its member states seem to be increasingly enguled in worries about the daunting problems o slowgrowth, recalcitrant high unemployment, and insolvency o eurozone member countries. Enlargement seems to havedropped o the EU agenda, or at the least, lost its urgency in the EU circles, not only or urkey but also or the moreavored candidates as well. Tus, urkish entry into the EUseems to have become not less but more probable under thecircumstances in the eyes o the urkish voters.
Conclusion
Public opinion is changed by domestic and national eventso the time, and it is anything but stable. urkish public

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