ISTANBUL: Despite the stagnation that has marked Turkey’s accession negotiations for half a decade, the majority of the public supports joining the European Union, according to a recent poll conducted by MetroPOLL.
While few believe that Turkey can become a member of the EU, more than half think necessary steps are being taken by Turkey in that direction, the poll said.
Support for EU membership stands at around 60 percent, according to the opinion poll released on Dec. 30.
The results showed that confidence remains low – around 23 percent – that Turkey will ever join the 27-country organization.
The poll, commissioned by the Economic Development Foundation (IKV), was conducted in 35 provinces with 4,506 participants.
The region that supports accession the highest is the southeast with 66 percent while even the lowest support is relatively high at 59 percent in the northeast of the country. With 64 percent, women are much more supportive than men, with 57 percent.
The most enthusiastic age group is the young; ages 18-24, with 66 percent in support of membership. The breakdown according to education reveals that support for accession increases in parallel with the education levels. The highest support comes from high school graduates, 67 percent, and college graduates, 66 percent.
Throughout the years, confidence in the conviction that Turkey will join the EU has gradually faltered. Those who believe Turkey’s accession negotiations will end with membership remains at 23 percent while this ratio stagnated around 30 percent in polls conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
A similar geographical correlation is observed in the levels of confidence in joining the EU. Thirty-four percent of those from the southeast had faith in accession to the EU becoming a reality, whereas only 19 percent of those from western provinces had faith in this probability.
“People believe that membership to the EU will be beneficial and despite all problems and obstacles, people continue to approach the issue in a rational way,” said Ayhan Zeytinoğlu, president of IKV.
“However, the fact that merely 23 percent of participants believe that accession can become a reality in the near future proves that the obstacles and crises occurring throughout the accession process has left the public disappointed,” added Zeytinoğlu in a written statement.
Turkey is ready for EU Membership
Sixty percent of participants believe that Turkey has the necessary human resources as well as administrative and institutional capacity to belong to the EU. Fifty-seven percent are under the impression that Turkey is taking the necessary steps and responsibilities to be a member of EU.
Economy, Freedom Behind Support for the EU
Of those supporting EU membership, 75 percent expect prosperity and economic development; 57 percent, democratization and development in human rights and 45 percent wish to benefit from easy travel, settlement, and education in Europe, according to the findings of the poll.
Of those who are against accession to the EU, 59 percent believe that it will harm Turkish culture and identity, 24 percent don’t believe the EU has a future, and 20 percent believe that it will harm international relations.
Membership means welfare and economic development for 37 percent, democracy and freedom for 21 percent, decline and collapse for 2 percent and unconstrained travel and the removal of borders for 12 percent of participants.
There seems to be less of a consensus with regards to what the current crucial topic is concerning Turkish-EU relations the most.
Thirty-eight percent say that the most pressing topic is the refugee crisis; 27 percent, accession negotiations; 17 percent, visa freedom; and 13 percent believe that it is the customs union between Turkey and the EU. Sixty-four percent believe that customs modernization will be beneficial for both sides.__Hurriyet