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Rising Turkish nationalism partly a response to ostracism from EU, poll says 12 mars 2007

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie, Turkey-EU / Turquie-UE.

Associated Press Worldstream

March 12, 2007 Monday, Istanbul

More than half of all Turks say nationalism is rising in their country, in large part due to the European Union’s handling of Turkey’s EU membership bid, according to a poll published Monday.

The poll asked Turks to analyze their own nationalist feelings and those of their countrymen and found that more than one-fifth said they personally felt more nationalist, while just over 50 percent said they thought nationalism was rising in general.

In addition to the 21.2 percent who said they felt more nationalist, 15.7 percent said they felt more nationalist « sometimes, » while 42.1 percent said their level of nationalism was the same. The remaining 21 percent either said they were not nationalists, were not ethnically Turkish or did not know.

The poll was conducted by the A&G market research company on behalf of the newspaper Milliyet.

Asked to explain the perceived rise in nationalism, a plurality, or 33.8 percent, ranked « the EU’s behavior that ostracizes and angers Turkey » first. 27.5 percent ranked it second.

Other reasons cited included unsuccessful foreign policies in Cyprus and Iraq and nationalist reactions to demands for change by certain pro-EU and pro-United States groups within Turkey.

Rising nationalism has become an issue in Turkey recently, with analysts seeing it as a force behind the increase in court cases against ethnic Kurds and against writers and intellectuals who allegedly insulted Turkey.

Earlier this year, a prominent ethnic Armenian journalist who was a frequent subject of nationalist protests was shot to death as he walked to his office, sparking a protest march by an estimated 100,000 people in Istanbul and reviving old concerns about intolerance and violence against minorities.

An ultranationalist teenager was arrested in connection with the killing.

Many Turks feel that the EU is not being fair to Turkey and has placed conditions on membership not placed on other candidates. One of those conditions is finding a solution to the divided island of Cyprus.

Turkey does not recognize the authority of the Greek-speaking administration on Cyprus and stations some 40,000 troops on the north of the island, where it props up a Turkish-speaking government not recognized by any other country.

The stalemate on Cyprus led the EU to partially freeze membership talks last December. Cyprus remains a nationalist cause celebre in Turkey, and was given as a reason for the rise in nationalism by nearly a quarter of those polled.

The poll was conducted in face to face interviews with 2,396 people across the country last month.

Politicians from the ruling Justice and Development Party have rejected claims that they were pandering for nationalist votes ahead of elections later this year.

Egemen Bagis, a legislator from Istanbul and an adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told a group of foreign reporters earlier this month that rising nationalism was a phenomenon experienced in every EU candidate country.


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