Support for Turkish EU bid wanes

The number of Austrians opposing Turkey’s accession to the European Union (EU) is on the rise.Researchers Karmasin questioned around 500 Austrians for magazine profil to find that 61 per cent are against such a move. Fifty-nine per cent said the same in May 2009.Eighteen per cent of Austrians (2009: 13 per cent) spoke out in favour of a so-called privileged partnership between the EU and Turkey, while only four per cent are in favour of Turkey becoming the EU’s 28th member. Seven per cent said the same in May of last year.These figures come weeks after the Turkish ambassador in Vienna claimed Austrians were only interested in culture while on holidays abroad. Kadri Ecvet Tezcan also said he would relocate the United Nations (UN) from the Austrian capital were he the leader of the international organisation.The diplomat’s statements, made in an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presse last month, angered most Austrian political leaders. The claims also intensified the debate over whether Turkish immigrants integrated well after settling in Austria.Referring to stricter immigration rules agreed upon by the joint administration of the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP), Tezcan suggested Austria should “chase off” foreigners if the country did not want them to live here.He said: “The Turks (in Austria) don’t want anything from you. They are happy, they just don’t want to be treated like a virus.”A poll conducted shortly after the controversial interview found that 51 per cent of Austrians think Turks should do more over integration, while only 39 per cent said both Turks and Austrians need to raise their efforts in improving their coexistence in Austria.Public opinion agency OGM also found that 35 per cent of Austrians considered Tezcan’s accusations as “partly justified”, while 48 per cent totally disagreed. A majority of 54 per cent told the agency that the diplomat should be removed from the post as a consequence.Gfk Austria found that 70 per cent of the 247,000 Turks living in Austria felt “closer” to the land they or their family came from than to Austria. More than 96,000 members of the Turkish community in Austria were born here.Right-wing political forces like the Freedom Party (FPÖ) claimed the high number of illiterate immigrants from Turkey and other countries was the main reason for the poor quality of lessons in some Austrian schools.Greens Vienna head and Vice Mayor Maria Vassilakou said children of all nationalities living in the capital should have to go to kindergarten for two years before their enrolment.”Those children who then still have difficulties with communicating in German should receive special remedial teaching. No one must be left behind because of a lack of German,” the left-winger said.Meanwhile, figures presented by Statistik Austria show that foreigners living in Austria have a higher unemployment rate than Austrians. The federal agency said 10.2 per cent of foreigners living in the country were out of work in October, while only 4.1 per cent of Austrians were unemployed. The authority also said Turks have the highest unemployment rate among ethnic minorities in Austria with 20 per cent, followed by people who left former Yugoslavia (10.5 per cent) to settle in the country which currently has an overall population of 8.5 million.