Would Czechs support Turkey joining the EU?

16-12-2004

With so much discussion under way in Europe over Turkey's ambitions to join the European Union, the Czech Republic has also engaged in the debate. The Czech government supports Turkey's ambitions, and Czech Euro-MPs confirmed this support on Wednesday. But how do Czechs back home feel? Would they support Turkey joining the European Union? Here are a couple of views from people in the streets of Prague.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK "I have to say that if Turkey meets all of the European Union's requirements then membership shouldn't be a problem. That's my opinion."

"It's a difficult question because I haven't decided if Turkey should be allowed to join the European Union because Turkish culture is very different from our culture so I haven't decided."

"I was thinking about it and I think they should give Turkey a chance to join and to see how it works. Maybe once they join they will change some laws and improve the country. I would give it a chance - because we had the chance. I know there's a difference between Turkey and the Czech Republic, but I think if the EU would give them a chance, things would get better."

So, some mixed views from Prague, but no-one we spoke to seemed strongly opposed to Turkish membership. We asked Borivoj Hnizdo from Charles University's Political Science Institute whether he felt the Czech public had strong opinions on the issue.

"It's possible to say that Czechs in general don't have a lot of experience with this issue on an everyday basis. We can't compare our situation with Germany. There is no sizable Turkish minority here. So, for Czechs it's a big unknown. And this factor could work against support for Turkish membership in the European Union among the majority of Czechs."

But on the other hand, Czechs are well known to be one of the least religious nations in Europe - very different from Catholic Poland, for example. So does this make Czechs more tolerant towards a Muslim country? A question for Borivoj Hnizdo.

"I think that for Czechs it's not a question of religious beliefs. I think it's the feeling and opinion of Czechs that the EU or the EU civilization is based on some principles of civilization. So it's not really connected with churches but with this kind of idea. And because of that opinion, they still have the feeling that Turkey is not only geographically but also ideologically not part of the European tradition."

16-12-2004