The recently announced results of the research say that although public desire to become a full member of the EU increased by 1 percent compared to in 2012, the EU bid has started to decrease in importance on the agenda of the Turkish people.
The three-year study finds that the main reason of this loss of desire is increasing self-confidence because of economic expansion in recent years and the ability of the economic crisis — which began in 2008 in Hungary and Romania and spread to Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy and will likely continue in Belgium, Slovenia and some Eastern Europe countries in 2014 — to affect Turkish economic welfare.
Aside from fears about the economy, among the main factors that have changed the Turks’ feelings towards the EU are negative signals that have been coming from EU countries, particularly from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has taken a hard line on Turkey becoming an EU member.
Islamophobia, racism and Turkophobia also rank among the negative factors that have changed Turkish public opinion about the EU. The research indicates that if developments on Turkey’s EU candidacy continue in a negative way, the number of people who want to see Turkey as part of the EU will decline even further next year.
The research says that the growing strength of the Turkish economy has given Turkey confidence. Turkey no longer sees the EU as the only option in order to open up to the world and there will be new alternatives, new relations and new organizations that Turkey can participate in, says the study. As an indication of Turkey not seeing the EU as the only door to open up to the world, the research gives the example of the growing economic relations with African countries, saying that while the export rate to African countries was 2 percent in 2002, this reached 34 percent in 2012.
The study also shares the figures for export rates with EU countries. According to TAVAK’s estimates, Turkey’s exports to EU countries declined by 30 percent in 10 years and this had a negative effect on Turkey’s EU bid.
On the upcoming the annual progress report of Turkey that will be published on Oct. 16, the research shows that Turkey does not expect to receive positive signals. The research also states that the EU report’s being negative each year and the EU not moving forward on Turkey’s bid also affect public opinion.
The 2013 research reveals that Turkey desires to develop close relations with BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China and South Africa). As well as Turkey turning towards BRICS countries rather than the EU in recent years, the research says that Turkey is also taking the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) into consideration for further cooperation.
The study says there are increasing numbers of those who believe Turkey does not need the EU and declining numbers of those who want Turkey to be an EU country.
The TAVAK research also reveals that if Turkey can be a full member of the EU in 2014, the EU will supply 2 billion euros every year.