Turks to European Union: No, Thanks
ISTANBUL — There was a time when joining the European Union was Turkey’s most-prized goal. Now, Turks don’t want to go anywhere near the bloc. Support for joining the EU has dropped to a record low of 17% from 34% last year, according to a survey published Tuesday by the Turkish European Foundation for Education and Scientific Studies, or Tavak. What’s more, almost 80% of the 1,110 people polled in eight cities across Turkey in June said they didn’t believe Turkey would join the 27-nation bloc.
At the heart of it is Turkey’s strong economic growth, contrasting with the EU, which has seesawed in and out of recession amid a financial crisis during the past three years, said Faruk Sen, chairman of Tavak. Also fueling sentiment against joining the EU are repeated snubs from EU leaders against Turkish entry to the bloc and a feeling that the union is anti-Islam, he said in an interview on Wednesday.
"From now on, the EU will have to coddle Turkey, be more hands-on. Turkey is developing alternatives,” Mr. Sen said. "Think of it this way, a man doesn’t think of an alternative to a wife he very much loves, but if the woman withdraws, then the husband looks for alternatives.”
Analogies of failed marriages aside, Turkey has indeed been deepening trade ties with the Middle East and North Africa in the past five years. While the EU is still Turkey’s biggest export market, its share of the pie is falling fast. (...)