Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

A love-hate story: Turks and the EU

Bahçeşehir University Professor Yılmaz Esmer and his team conducted a study titled "Radicalism and Extremism." And we have been discussing the results for days.

"Intolerance" and "women" are the two items we have mostly focused on in this report. But the findings about the European Union are quite interesting, too. First of all, one-fourth of Turks do not even know if we are a member of the European Union.

But I can say that such "ignorance" is not unique to Turks. I know that so many Europeans are in the same position. An Italian businesswomen from northern Italy whom I met in an important art fair recently did not know whether Turkey was an EU member.

The most surprising finding for Esmer in this study is the "contradictions" Turks go through in terms of the EU. Esmer terms this "contradiction" or "confusion," but I perhaps can say a "love and hate" story. About 80 percent of the participants believe the EU wants to spread "Christianity" in the world.

There is something strange

Again, 76 percent believe the EU "wants to divide Turkey." Eighty percent believe the EU wants to divide the Muslim world. Now, we expect such a community that is approaching the EU with doubts to have negative thought on membership to the EU, do we not?

But, it is not so. As Esmer points out, there is something strange going on here: The majority of people, 57 percent, want to see Turkey in the EU.

But reservations continue that no matter how hard we try, the EU will not accept us. Eighty percent say, "The EU will not take us in."

And 93 percent of the participants believe the EU does not treat members equally. The study conducted by Esmer is the latest opinion poll measuring feelings of the Turkish public toward the EU. Do you think EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn is interested in Esmer’s study? Rehn, in a statement that I read yesterday, was talking about the idea that Europe should be sincere in eliminating "anti-EU reservations" in Turkey as he called for Turkey to speed up reforms. Esmer’s study coincides with the voices rising in Europe for Turkey. And another interesting thing is that they mostly rise from France, a member of the anti-Turkey camp. I’ll give you two examples. Former French Foreign Minister Hubert Verdine clearly told Le Monde daily that from now on it was neither possible nor right to change the rules of game for Turkey.

Verdine added, "We could’ve told them from the beginning that we want a different type of partnership with Turkey. But since we didn’t do that, we have to fulfill our promises." Let me say in a parenthesis here, that as far as I know Verdine has never been a staunch defender of Turkey’s accession.

The next day Socialist Party representative and former State Minister for European Affairs Pierro Moscovici said Europe needs Turkey.

For a pluralist, young and dynamic Europe vision, Turkey should be a member of the EU, Moscovici said, adding that it would be a big mistake to shut the door to Turkey.

But when President Nicolas Sarkozy insists against Turkish accession, he ignores the calls from Verdine and Moscovici.
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