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Opinions of Students at Turkish and German Universities on Turkey in the EU Accession Process

Article excerpt

Abstract

Turkey's candidacy for accession to the European Union (EU) dates back to many years and is still a current and highly disputed issue. This study was conducted to determine the opinions of students at Turkish and German universities on Turkey in relation to the European Union. Two hundred twenty six German students participated in the study from the departments of Turkish Translation and Interpretation and Asian Languages at the University of Bonn, Germany, and 270 Turkish students participated in the study from Ataturk Faculty of Education in Marmara University, Istanbul-Turkey. The research data were collected through a questionnaire created by Dartan, Nas, Akman, and Savran (2004). The questionnaire was prepared in both Turkish and German languages and consisted of 27 items. Five items of the questionnaire aimed at the collection of personal data and 17 items are responded with "yes, no, uncertain, no idea." These items were categorized under four dimensions consisting of "Turkey's general structure, Turkey's economic and political situation, Turkey's foreign policy, and general opinions on Turkey's accession to the EU." The other 5 items consisted of multiple or one choice questions, which investigated students' approach to the EU from different perspectives. According to the findings, responses given by two groups of students have been interpreted comparatively. According to the results of the study, Turkish students specified health issues, economic and political instabilities, and debates over secularism as the fundamental problems in accession of Turkey to the EU. Turkish students believe that Turkey's accession to the EU is a very long process and perhaps a process that would never end. German students had a more positive approach to Turkey's accession to the EU. However, students in Germany highlighted religion, population, and economic factors as the most important obstacles to the accession of Turkey to the EU. Furthermore, contrary to Turkish students, students in Germany believe that Turkey is ready to join the EU. Both groups confirm that Turkey is a secular and democratic country and that it provides a model for the other Islamic countries.

Key Words

European Union, Education, Democracy, Political Situation.

Globalization, creation of market-based international competition, as well as inter-sector/inter-region exchange and communication have become symbols of this century. With its member states, the European Union (EU) is a heterogeneous community in which different cultures, languages, and religions come together. The EU aims to create a European identity by creating common policies for controlling the security of Europe, coordination of economic development, promotion of democratic values, encouragement of social integration, struggling with problems such as narcotics, crime and terrorism, use of a single currency, and provision of right of free movement between the member states. To this end, the EU member states put forth efforts to develop collaboration among educational and training institutions through cultural integration programs and develop joint projects aimed at teaching and spreading languages of member states (Lange, 1992; Wallace, 1997; Field, 1998; Mitchell and McAleavey, 1999; Beukel, 2001; Sezgin, 2001; Çalis; 2002 & De Neve, 2007).

Turkey's westernization movement that began in the Ottoman period gained importance with the establishment of the Republic and became an important goal of Turkey (Sener and Akdemir, 2006 &Kaya, Kiliç and Yildirim, 2008). The present EU was established in Strasbourg in 1949 as a result of search for economic recovery and welfare among the Western European countries. Turkey's negotiations with the thennamed European Economic Community started in 1959 and resulted with the Ankara (or Association) Agreement, which came into effect in December 1964. Turkey's full membership application was materialized on April 14, 1987. …