Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share
Media Watch 2005

19 July 2005
Source: Guardian
Author: Nicholas Watt
Comment: The following article appeared in the Guardian of London on 19 July 2005.
Europeans reject Turkey, poll shows
"Turkey's campaign to join the EU suffered a blow yesterday when a survey found that only just over a third of Europeans back its membership... The opposition in Europe's two German-speaking countries and France was reflected in the poll. Austria led the way, with 80% of those questioned opposed to Turkish membership. This was followed by Germany (74%) and France (70%)."

Turkey's campaign to join the EU suffered a blow yesterday when a survey found that only just over a third of Europeans back its membership.

As foreign ministers from the EU clashed over Turkey at their last meeting before the summer break, the Eurobarometer poll found that 35% of the EU's citizens supported Ankara's bid to join.

A majority (52%) said that they opposed Turkish membership.

The findings will confirm Ankara's fears that it faces an uphill task to join the EU after voters in France and the Netherlands rejected the constitution treaty, in part because of opposition to Turkey.

Talks on Turkey's membership are due to begin on October 3, but senior European politicians oppose the move.

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's interior minister, and Angela Merkel, the leader of Germany's centre-right CDU party, want Turkey's application to be downgraded to associate membership.

They were joined yesterday by Karl-Heinz Grasser, Austria's finance minister, who told the FT that it was "wrong to negotiate full Turkish membership".

The opposition in Europe's two German-speaking countries and France was reflected in the poll. Austria led the way, with 80% of those questioned opposed to Turkish membership.

This was followed by Germany (74%) and France (70%). Opposition has increased by 24 points in Austria, 20 in Germany and six in France since the question was last asked in 2002.

France and Austria are due to hold referendums on Turkish membership once the accession talks end in about 10 years, all but guaranteeing that Turkey will be blocked if the current climate prevails.

Austria and Cyprus led the way in opposing Turkey at yesterday's talks. Ursula Plassnik, Austria's foreign minister, said: "We have always thought it would be smart to explicitly spell out an alternative [to full EU membership].

"We stress the issue of [the EU's] absorption capacity accordingly."

George Iakovou, the Cypriot foreign minister, asked what conditions Turkey would put on extending its customs union with the EU to cover the 10 countries that joined the EU last year, including Cyprus.

Ankara, which will sign the document as a prelude to accession talks, wants to make clear that it is not recognising Greek Cyprus as the government of the whole island.

Britain is championing Turkish membership, and said yesterday that negotiations would continue.

Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, who chaired the foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels yesterday, said: "There has been a strategic decision made that Turkey's future lies within Europe and that our strategic interest lies in that happening."

In Britain, Spain, Portugal and Sweden, supporters of Turkish membership outnumbered opponents in the poll."