Poll shows that Turks would prefer ties with Middle East over European Union

Sean O'Brian

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European leaders have long ignored the concerns of their own peoples when it comes to the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union. Now a poll reveals that the Turkish people themselves are getting fed up: they've noticed the less-than-enthusiastic reception from Europeans and they would prefer for Turkey to seek ties with fellow Middle Eastern countries, like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whither Turkish secularism? David Cameron will no doubt be upset at hearing this news. Will the Turkish "elites" continue to push for Turkish entry into the EU?

Turks believe focus should be on Middle East and away from Europe

Turkey sees its interests increasingly better served by greater involvement in the Middle East, and is relatively untroubled by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to an opinion poll today which highlighted the widening gulf between Ankara and the west.

Growing frustration in Turkey at the lack of progress towards joining the European Union, as well as strong popular hostility in Germany and France to having the Turks in the union, were also underlined by the survey.

The annual Transatlantic Trends survey was conducted in 11 EU countries, the US and Turkey, by the institution called The German Marshall Fund of the United States. The poll found that 20% of Turks believed their primary partners should be Middle East countries, while 13% favoured the EU. Compared with last year, that almost halved support for the EU while doubling the figure for engagement with the Middle East.

"It's only 20%, but it's a dramatic shift in just a year," said Bruce Stokes, an analyst with the fund.

The shift reflected in the poll perhaps relates to recent events: in May Turkey's government struck a nuclear fuel deal with Iran and voted against UN sanctions over Tehran, signalling a more robust regional foreign policy that alarmed western capitals; also, in the same month, the Israeli commando raid on the Turkish-organised aid flotilla to Gaza further entrenched Ankara's split with the west on Middle East disputes.

The study notes that Turkey is "almost certainly moving in a direction of less predictability on foreign affairs", regarding its "increasingly assertive foreign policy … Turkish public opinion seems to reflect the country's new focus on the Middle East." By contrast, support for integration with the west is seen to be haemorrhaging. Over the past five years, according to the poll, Turkish support for joining the EU has halved to 38%, while only a quarter of Turks now expect their country to join the union one day.
 


cry freedom

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European leaders have long ignored the concerns of their own peoples when it comes to the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union. Now a poll reveals that the Turkish people themselves are getting fed up: they've noticed the less-than-enthusiastic reception from Europeans and they would prefer for Turkey to seek ties with fellow Middle Eastern countries, like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whither Turkish secularism? David Cameron will no doubt be upset at hearing this news. Will the Turkish "elites" continue to push for Turkish entry into the EU?

Turks believe focus should be on Middle East and away from Europe
Great! Away with them then.
Solves a big problem as far as I am concerned.
 

McDave

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European leaders have long ignored the concerns of their own peoples when it comes to the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union. Now a poll reveals that the Turkish people themselves are getting fed up: they've noticed the less-than-enthusiastic reception from Europeans and they would prefer for Turkey to seek ties with fellow Middle Eastern countries, like the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whither Turkish secularism? David Cameron will no doubt be upset at hearing this news. Will the Turkish "elites" continue to push for Turkish entry into the EU?
Politically it makes a lot of sense for Turkey. They can punch well above their weight in the near east. They can forge politically positive and economically beneficial relations with the likes of Syria, Egypt and Iran.

I think it's a mistake though to overplay the potential for Islamification in Turkey. It has a strong secular tradition, but associated with the military and other elites. Practicing Muslims have had to bite their lip for a long time until the election of the current government. Religion is coming more to the fore there, but I can't see any take-over a la Iran. Turkey is too wealthy and too integrated into western institutions to go a radical route.

Basically the EU should welcome a Turkey which can play a positive, stabilising role in and around the middle east. The region needs it. It is also potentially a phenomenal trading partner. It should also welcome any developments which enhance Turkey's sense of regional influence and which pull it away from EU membership.
 

Sean O'Brian

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Tad missleading. 20% means nothing.
Out of a population of some 72 million? Seems significant to me, especially when you consider that support for EU entry among Turks is dropping off simultaneously.
 

Trampas

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Basically the EU should welcome a Turkey which can play a positive, stabilising role in and around the middle east. The region needs it. It is also potentially a phenomenal trading partner. It should also welcome any developments which enhance Turkey's sense of regional influence and which pull it away from EU membership.
In fact Turkish membership would be a calamity for the EU and for the people of Europe.
A future EU with Turkey as its most powerful state simply doesn't bear thinking about. The unassailable AKP govt is an unreconstructed islamist venture that is getting more and more Turkish citizens onside. The recent constitutional changes (resisted by the cultured and thoroughly westernised business communities in Turkey) has cleared the way for more and more islam. That referendum was in effect the starting gun for the AKP's 2011 election campaign. Turkish EU accession accompanied by tens of millions of Anatolian peasants with freedom of movement throughout the EU is a vista that we and our descendants could very much do without.
 

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Yes, well I know there weren't 10 million+ survey respondents. Don't pollsters have methods for gauging an accurate cross-section of society, or what is the purpose of polling?
 

Riadach

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So as a result of the EU's reluctance to accept them, 72million Turks are now been driven into the arms of Iran and those democratic paradises like Syria and Saudi Arabia? Yet people on this site think this is a good thing?
 

Sean O'Brian

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So as a result of the EU's reluctance to accept them, 72million Turks are now been driven into the arms of Iran and those democratic paradises like Syria and Saudi Arabia? Yet people on this site think this is a good thing?
The Islamification of Turkey is something that has been happening for a long time. Professor Uriel Heyd (d. 1968) was writing about Turkey’s de-secularisation and aggressive re-Islamisation 42 years ago. Are we really supposed to permanently merge ourselves with 72 million Muslims in the vain hope that they'll suddenly abandon the hardline aspects of their religion because they're in the all-wonderful EU?
 
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Sean O'Brian

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Myers on Turkey

It's all pretty much one-way traffic and some of it is quite bizarre. Turkey has just passed a referendum, largely at the instigation of the EU, which will finally curtail the political power of its army. But the Turkish army is the one guarantor of secularism in Turkey. Only a truly dogmatic form of post-Christian Euro-liberalism would have imposed the moral and political values of Scandinavia on an Islamic country like Turkey. To remove the army as the final guarantor of Turkey's secular constitution is like the Alpine countries condemning dams and telling the Netherlands to get rid of theirs. Or like the EU insisting on a universal freedom of procession right across the EU, from Lisbon to Lyons to, ah, Lurgan ...

The one-size-fits-all theory -- it doesn't work, does it? Many Turkish liberals opposed the referendum proposals from the Turkish government, in part because they see the thin end of the wedge of Islamic power replacing that of the army. If the EU rologists have their way, Turkey will be in the EU within a decade or so; and then what? What are the consequences of the mass movement of Turkey's Muslims into western European cities? It'll all work out in the end, is the generally accepted piety, which continues: Once European Muslims come to enjoy the tolerance of European institutions, they'll behave just like European Christians and secularists and become culturally indistinguishable.

Which is just fine: but what is the guarantee that European Muslims will start conforming to the norms of Europe? And where is the model for such optimism? Where do Muslims in numbers behave like tolerant western Christians/secularists do everywhere, from Argentina to Austria to Australia?
 

Riadach

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The Islamification of Turkey is something that has been happening for a long time. Professor Uriel Heyd (d. 1968) was writing about Turkey’s de-secularisation and aggressive re-Islamisation 42 years ago. Are we really supposed to permanently merge ourselves with 72 million Muslims in the vain hope that they'll suddenly abandon the hardline aspects of their religion because they're in the all-wonderful EU?
Indeed, and even after 42 years, the progress in islamisation is minimal. Now there are plently of secular muslims, and indeed moderate muslims in Turkey, whose attitudes don't differ greatly, if slightly conservative, from attitudes in the West. We can either entrench these attitudes, and the secularist nature of the Turkish Republic by making their membership contingent on their sustainability, or we can let one of the largest islamic nations float off into a see of Middle Eastern failed states, because they saw western values such as secularism as having no immediate reward.
 

Sean O'Brian

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Indeed, and even after 42 years, the progress in islamisation is minimal.
I'd say it's proceeding quite rapidly with the ongoing success of the AKP.

or we can let one of the largest islamic nations float off into a see of Middle Eastern failed states, because they saw western values such as secularism as having no immediate reward.
If we merge ourselves with Turkey we risk throwing away our freedom. That is not a gamble I can support.
 

Riadach

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I'd say it's proceeding quite rapidly with the ongoing success of the AKP.
I'd say your delusional. I don't recall any principle of sharia law being implemented in Turkey lately, do you?


If we merge ourselves with Turkey we risk throwing away our freedom. That is not a gamble I can support.
Sounds like scaremongering to me.
 

Hudson

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There has been a flood of recent articles recently regarding the preceived de-secularisation of Turkey, or rather the Islamisation of Turkey. Most of these articles unfortunately seem to be quite misinformed. Turkey's current foreign policy was drafted by its current foreign minister before he adopted that portfolio. He refered to this draft to be a 'strategic depth'. Turkey's foreign policy has also been called 'multi-demensioned'. Turkey infact has considerable leverage in the Middle East following it's anti-Israel stance which would seem to reach pitch just before election times. This has not effected Turkey's military trade with Israel which I believe exceeds over 1 billion US dollars.

Regardless, this leverage has been used by America to put pressure on Iran regarding its nuclear facilities. There is also a preception that Turkey cannot have links with other states, such as Saudi Arabia. This a rather odd assertion. The USA and the majority of European states have close economic and military links with Saudi Arabia. Turkey is a member of NATO and of the majority of European bodies, it is strange that Turkey's diplomatic links with Saudi Arabia may be used as evidence of preceived increasing Islamisation.

As we know, the recent constitution change replaced the military constitution with a civilian one. However, the internal codes of the Turkish Armed Forces still stipulate that it is their duty to defend secularism, vis-a-vis defending the legacy of Ataturk, and if needs be, to intervene in politics. It may be wrong however to view the ruling AKP and the military as opposing forces, it could be argued that the AKP's liberal economics are a direct consequence of the economic reforms and mass privisations which occured following the 1980 coup.

The AKP are incredibly close to America and some obsevers have claimed that the recent Ergenekon case is being held at the behest of America to remove those within the secularist elites who are opposed to Turkey's pro-America foreign policy.
 

Rocky

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First thing I wonder what the other 67% thought? And the numbers polled is very small.

However at that I would agree with Riadach that this is a worrying sign. Turkey has immense potential for Europe with it's large young work force and immense economic potential in the long-term future and it would be an absolute nightmare if Europe gives that away to Iran and it's allies.
 

Rocky

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Politically it makes a lot of sense for Turkey. They can punch well above their weight in the near east. They can forge politically positive and economically beneficial relations with the likes of Syria, Egypt and Iran.

I think it's a mistake though to overplay the potential for Islamification in Turkey. It has a strong secular tradition, but associated with the military and other elites. Practicing Muslims have had to bite their lip for a long time until the election of the current government. Religion is coming more to the fore there, but I can't see any take-over a la Iran. Turkey is too wealthy and too integrated into western institutions to go a radical route.

Basically the EU should welcome a Turkey which can play a positive, stabilising role in and around the middle east. The region needs it. It is also potentially a phenomenal trading partner. It should also welcome any developments which enhance Turkey's sense of regional influence and which pull it away from EU membership.
It'd be a more phenomenal trading partner if it was in the EU.

At that it doesn't have to be either/or. Due to it's location and the fact that it's Muslim Turkey will play a role in the Middle East regardless. However a Turkey in the EU should be a stronger Turkey and hence be able to play a greater role and if Turkey was in the EU it would allow the EU as a whole to play a bigger role in the Middle East through Turkey.
 


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