Friday, September 12, 2008

GMF's TransAtlantic Trends Survey Released

GMF has released its TransAtlantic Trends survey. From TDZ:
A majority of Europeans and Americans believes Turkey is likely to join the European Union, contrary to the Turks, who have less faith that their country's bid will ever succeed, a poll published Wednesday has shown.

The annual Transatlantic Trends survey, conducted in June in 12 European countries, including Turkey, and the United States, showed 42 percent of Turks saw EU membership as a good thing, but only 26 percent thought it likely that Turkey would join the bloc. This was contrary to the results in Europe and the United States, where 60 percent and 48 percent of the respondents, respectively, thought it likely that Turkey would join the EU.

Forty-five percent of the Europeans polled saw Turkey's accession neither as a good thing nor a bad thing, and in the United States, a staunch supporter of Turkey's EU bid, public support for Turkey's membership declined 8 percentage points to 32 percent compared to last year, according to the poll.

Turkey is a NATO member and aspires to become a member of the European Union. But its EU bid is facing obstacles over the unresolved issue of Cyprus and European criticism over a slowdown in Ankara's reform pace.

Observers have expressed concerns in recent years that Turkey might be turning away from the West after tensions in relations with the United States over the war in Iraq and US inactivity in regard to Turkish requests to deal with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which operates from bases in northern Iraq, as well as tensions in its relations with the EU. In the past year, Turkish-US relations improved at the official level, with the US administration's designation of the PKK as a "common enemy" and support for Turkish military strikes against the terrorist group's targets in northern Iraq.

The survey showed that in the past year, Turkish feelings warmed slightly toward the European Union by seven degrees to 33 and toward the United States by three degrees to 14, halting a trend of cooling toward both since 2004.

But despite the improvement in feelings, a majority of Turks and Europeans agree that Turkey is not really part of the West and Turks say Turkey should act alone on international matters, the poll also showed.

Fifty-five percent of Turkish respondents and 57 percent of Europeans are of the opinion that Turkey has such different values that it is not a Western country. The poll showed that Germans (76 percent), French (68 percent) and Italians (61 percent) agreed the most that Turkey was not part of the West. Americans, on the other hand, did not share this view, with the largest percentage of the respondents (41 percent) saying that Turkey has enough common values with the West to be considered Western.

A small minority of Turks, 3 percent, said Turkey should act together with the United States on international matters. The largest percentage of Turks (48 percent) said Turkey should act alone, compared with 20 percent who felt it should act with the countries of the European Union and 11 percent who felt it should act with the countries of the Middle East. Only 1 percent supported Turkey acting together with Russia.

The poll also revealed that the Turkish respondents continued to have the most critical views of US and EU leadership in world affairs. Only 8 percent of respondents viewed US leadership as "desirable," and 22 percent viewed EU leadership as "desirable." Only 8 percent of the respondents viewed President George W. Bush's handling of international affairs favorably, although the percentage who viewed him unfavorably declined 12 percentage points to 71 percent compared to last year. Turkey also had the lowest percentage (38 percent) of respondents who saw NATO as essential, although this was an increase of three percentage points over last year and halted a declining trend since 2004.

In another finding, the poll revealed that a large majority (70 percent) of Turks are opposed to the country's ban on women wearing the Muslim headscarf in universities.
For the full survey results, click here.

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