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Not Welcome

The EUobserver carried a report today on the latest Eurobarometer survey which looks at attitudes towards EU expansion in the current member states. Interviewees were asked whether they favoured or opposed membership for Turkey and Balkan states if those states met the membership criteria.

The survey found that only Croatia would gain the support of a majority of EU citizens. Turkey was the least popular with 48% opposing membership. Albania also did poorly; 44% opposed membership for the country, 41% supported it.

Overall, the report found only a slim majority in favour of continued expansion: 45% to 42%.

While these statistics sound disappointing for those of us who favour expansion - conditional on potential members meeting the criteria - the fact that more that there is still a small majority in favour of expansion overall and sizeable minorities in favour in the specific cases of Albania and Turkey is a positive outcome.

Given the lack of knowledge of many people about this region, and given that politicians themselves have been unwilling to commit themselves enthusiastically to the process, I find it surprising that there are not more people opposing further expansion.

The survey also demonstrates that the oft-cited rejection of the consitution by the Dutch and the French is largely irrelevant to the issue of expansion. While a majority in France opposed Turkish membership, a majority of French citizens support membership for all Balkan countries, including Albania. Dutch citizens are even more enthusiastic - absolute majorities support membership for all the states.

The key factor is that these responses are premised on potential members fully meeting the membership critieria. As these counties move towards fulfilling their obligations over time it is reasonable to expect that there would be an increasing acceptance of them as future members by the citizens of the existing members.


Anonymous said…
Hey if they don't like us then we don't like them (or at least we shouldn't like them :( ) Unfortunately I can't get a lot of my countrymen to agree with this.....

ITS said…
I totally agree with Ll.

As an Albanian-Canadian dual citizen, could care less for the EU membership. Actually I do prefer that they never join, and remain the "odd and backwards" country in Europe. It has so much more charm that way.

I feel sorry for the Albanian people that have such a hard time traveling outside of the country and that's the only reason the need to be in the EU.

Other than that, we know that Western Europe has always been hostile against Albania mostly provoked by attention whores such as A.A. Gill, or our lovely neighbors the Greeks, and the Servs.
Anonymous said…
"It's" is a little selfish - EU membership could provide so many benefits for Albania - particularly to help the Albanian economy to develop.

It's not the answer to all Albania's problems, but so many opportunities could arise.

I think it's a case of well, blow you jack (to Albanians in his homeland), I'm alright now - happily settled in Canada with all the benefits that brings.
Anonymous said…
I cannot deny that my less than enthusiastic comment about the EU is partially motivated by the comfort of my position, it is one thing to write from a nice desk in the US and another to write from an internet cafe in Tirana.

Yet my opposition towards the EU isn't just because of the antipathy that they show us but also about the fact that we ARE NOT READY. Seriously, we're not. Joining the EU without cristalizing and solidifying our internal workings would just make us a EU colony as we'd be forced to do whatever Brussels says. That might be a good thing, especially in the short term but it won't help in the long run because we won't be able to build a self sustaining entity. We can't continue spending our lives under one "empire" or another, we have to learn to live by ourselves.

ITS said…
Yes Anonymous Person,

You are somewhat right about your statements. However, you are wrong in the sense that by the way Albania has reached all the standards set by the EU, then it will be already prosperous and most Albanians could care less about the memebership.

This EU membership reminds of a carrot dangling in front of a horse.

Again, if they don't want us, screw them back, and screw them hard. I am sick of bending off backwards to please everybody else, but ourselves.

And personally, I came to Canada by pure determination, and hard work. I had the exact same chances as every other Albanian after the fall of communism. Canada is an open country and anybody can apply, so I am not going to feel guilty about my hard work to get where I am.
Anonymous said…
Nuk ka kuptim te fillojme te zihemi ne faqen e nje te huaji se sa merita kemi si individe te vecante e sa kemi punuar. Le ti permbahemi temes e te mos behemi qesharake.

ITS said…
Ok, xhaje si te urdherosh ti!

Anonimi i mesiperm nuk eshte Shqiptar, sepse perdor termin "in his homeland", prandaj po me ben teorira morali, nga ku eshte vete.

C'rendesi eshte se i kujt eshte blogu? Ky eshte ne Shqiperi, prandaj c'do gje na perket, dhe nuk e ndiej veten qesharak per kete.

Ne qofte se ti ndihesh qesharak, mos shkruaj me ketu.

Hajt te fala!
ourmanintirana said…
ITS you are right that by the time Albania is ready to join the EU it will have reached a standard where it might well decide to continue its development outside the EU or in some other regional bloc that might arise in the intervening period.

On the other hand, it is the commitment to membership that drives most of the reforms that are happening and that will hlep Albania reach that stage. If Albanians decided that they were not interested after all, a lot of the motivation, mechanisms and money for reform would disappear.

Your main strategy should be to encourage Albanians to achieve the targets for EU membership as quickly as possible and then change their minds.
Anonymous said…
I was not questioning "Its'" hard work and ability to get where he is in Canada, but for the vast majority of young Albanians wanting to leave their homeland, Canada and indeed many other places are just pipe dreams. The harsh reality is that the opportunties for further education etc just are not there for so many young Albanians.

In desperate hope many young people in Albania succumb to the unrealistic(and often false) promises made by people smugglers. So many put their families into greater financial insecurity in their desire to get to another country. The only winners - the people smugglers and their associates.

I am no huge fan of the EU, but some of the "standards" it looks for can only improve Albania's image to potential foreign investors. With an improving infrastructure, political stability and commercial legal reforms, the prospects for foreign investment would be greater. The multiplied effects for the Albanian economy would come too.

I totally agree with the comments made to "Its" by "ourmanintirana" above.

It's a bit like getting vocational qualifications, once you jump all the hurdles to get them, nobody can take them away. Significantly, the hurdles are often just laughed at afterwards, but the hurdles have usually taught important standards which are for the good and provide sound foundations for future more inspired development, whether as an individual, or, if preferred, as part of a larger organisation.

At the time of qualification, I expect that it will be for the people of Albania to decide if they wish to proceed further into the EU. At least by that stage, the country should be in a stronger position due to the hurdles they have jumped and Albanians will hopefully be able to make an informed choice.

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