Turk′s Mixed Feelings Over EU Bid | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 16.12.2004
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Turk's Mixed Feelings Over EU Bid

As a four-decade long wait to enter the EU draws to an end, Turks have mixed feelings. On Thursday night, their optimism was tempered by reminders of the challenges ahead.


Turks waited with bated breath on Thursday night

After a 40-year wait, Turks looked forward to a likely green light to finally start talks to join the European Union. But their enthusiasm was tempered by a sense of resentment and fears that they are unwelcome neighbors knocking at Europe's door.

Throughout the day, television channels played Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and, minute by minute, covered developments at the EU summit in Brussels, where hard bargaining on the terms under which Turkey will be invited to accession talks will likely continue until a decision is announced on Friday.

Europäisches Parlament für Beitrittsverhandlungen mit der Türkei

The European Parliament said yes to Turkey on Wednesday

"The longest night," headlined the conservative Yeni Safak newspaper, while the large-circulation Sabah dedicated its entire front page to a photo of members of the European Parliament voting in favor of Turkey's accession at their session Wednesday in Strasbourg.

Final appeals made

In an 11th-hour media blitz, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made an emotional appeal to explain Turkey's case in an "Open letter to my European friends," published simultaneously in Turkey and Germany, which has a large Turkish immigrant community.

Türkische Soldaten im Irak, 1995

Turkish soldiers already serve in NATO missions

"My people, who yesterday -- within the NATO framework -- sent their children to risk death and fight shoulder to shoulder alongside the children of Europe for the principles of freedom and democracy, today aspire to live under the same roof as their European friends for the same principles of freedom and democracy," he wrote.

Public mood cautious

Around 75 percent of the Turkish population backs EU membership, according to opinion polls, but the mood in the street on Thursday night was low-key, as the tough conditions the Union is expected to impose on Turkey cooled any sense of celebration.

The only major pro-EU demonstration in the run-up to the Brussels summit took place last week in Diyarbakir, in the mainly Kurdish southeast. The urban west, where the country's EU bid enjoys robust support, awaited the decision in silent anticipation.

Still unwelcome neighbors?

Türkische Zeitungen EU Verhandlungen

Turkish people have read harsh rhetoric in the papers

The sometimes harsh rhetoric Turkey's opponents used in the Europe-wide debate preceding the Brussels summit made on impression on the overwhelmingly Muslim nation, which has long admired Europe and seen it as a role model.

"The Europeans do not like us because their heads are full of historic prejudices," said retiree Ali Riza Midilli. "They will admit us, but very grudgingly. They want to extract many concessions from us. Our leaders should be very careful."

For Cemil Kurt, a 28-year-old worker at the Ankara municipality, her country's predominately Muslim religion was the "main reason" for European scepticism.

"Still, I believe that we should join, because unemployment will decrease and the price of many things will go down," he said, echoing the hope of economic prosperity that many Turks have pinned on future EU membership.

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