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48% of Turks say EU membership is a “a good thing”

PanARMENIAN.Net - According to the 2011 Transatlantic Trends public opinion survey released by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), Turkish and European public opinion has started to warm up to each other and the foundations of relations are strong at the public opinion level.

Today's Zaman reports that when asked if Turkey is likely to join the European Union, 33 percent of the Turkish public welcomed the idea, as opposed to 26 percent last year. In 2007 and 2008, 26 percent of Turks surveyed said Turkey was likely to join the EU. That figure was 28 percent in 2009.

Moreover, 48 percent of the Turkish respondents of the survey - compared to 38 percent last year - said that Turkish membership in the EU is “a good thing.”

Public opinion in the EU was not totally against Turkey’s EU accession, but most people were divided or pessimistic about the benefits of Turkish membership. On average, 48 percent of EU respondents agreed that Turkey’s membership in the EU would help promote peace and stability in the Middle East. However, this was not shared in all countries; majorities in France (59 percent) and the Netherlands (51 percent) as well as a plurality in Slovakia (46 percent) disagreed.

The survey also pointed out that half of those polled in 12 EU countries disagreed that Turkey’s EU membership would be good in economic terms for the EU, while 39 percent agreed that it would be economically beneficial. The French (63 percent), Swedes (62 percent), Germans (58 percent), Spanish (55 percent) and Dutch (54 percent) were the most likely to see Turkey’s EU membership as negatively affecting the EU economy. The majority of Turks (55 percent), on the other hand, thought that EU membership would be good for the Turkish economy.

The majority of those living in the EU countries surveyed (56 percent), including relatively strong majorities in Sweden (66 percent), the UK (65 percent), Spain (64 percent) and Germany (62 percent), did not believe that Turkey’s predominantly Muslim population was a reason to keep Turkey out of the EU. A majority of Bulgarians (58 percent) and many people from Poland (46 percent) and Slovakia (48 percent) believed that EU membership for a predominantly Muslim population might be a problem.

The annual Transatlantic Trends series aim to explore how Americans, Europeans and Turks view the transatlantic relationship and challenges facing the world specific to the year of the survey, according to the project’s website. The 2011 survey marks the 10th study the project has conducted to analyze global trends, as well as threats, from the point of view of thousands of people from 12 EU countries, the US and Turkey. The 2011 survey, conducted between May 25 and June 20, includes roughly 1,000 respondents from each, and the margin of error is acknowledged to be plus or minus three points.

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