Retired British expats cool to Turkey’s EU accession

According to Mehmet Gökay Özerim's (R) doctoral thesis, 42 percent of the retired Britons living in Turkey said they do not want Turkey to become a member of the EU, while 38 percent support the idea.

September 22, 2008, Monday/ 11:01:00
Retired British residents of the southern province of Muğla object to the prospect of Turkey joining the European Union, as they fear accession may cause Turkey to lose its identity, recent research by a graduate student at Dokuz Eylül University has revealed.    According to Mehmet Gökay Özerim's doctoral thesis, which deals with the migration of European retirees with a special focus on 50 retired British residents of Dalyan, 42 percent of the retired Britons said they do not want Turkey to become a member of the EU, while 38 percent support Turkey's membership. "English people are afraid that Turkey may lose its positive character traits, such as hospitability and humanism. It is a bit selfish, but they are worried about the possibility that the country may become expensive like Greece," Özerim's thesis advisor, Associate Professor Berna Kırkulak, said.

    Research conducted in Europe has shown that Europeans oppose Turkey's accession because they see Turkey as different from other EU states in economic, social and religious terms and they think Turkey's membership would be to the detriment of the bloc. But Dalyan's older British residents have formulated their opinions about Turkey's EU membership based on what Turkey would lose. To the question of whether Turkey's EU harmonization reforms had affected their decision to settle in Turkey, 82 percent of the research participants replied in the negative. A majority of them said they preferred to live in Turkey because it is not Europeanized, having its own character. Favorable climate, natural beauty, warm social interactions, cheaper standards of living and less pressure in daily life are among other factors that attract British citizens to Dalyan.

    Noting that foreign residents in the southern province of Antalya favor Turkey's EU accession, while the research participants in Dalyan do not, Kırkulak said Turkey may lose some of its cultural values as a result of EU membership, but that membership will bring benefits as well. She also said that retired Britons in Turkey do not really feel like British citizens anymore, as Britain has let in a lot of immigrants and provided them with economic opportunities. "The retired British people say they are no longer important in their country after retiring. They ask themselves if they are really British," Kırkulak said.