The Accession of Turkey to the European Union in the Media: An Analysis of media coverage and perception of the recipients regarding to the European-Turkish debate in 7 countries
Turkey’s membership in the European Union has been a subject of discussion among politicians and academics in the media for years. None of the present 27 EU member states has had such a lengthy accession process to go through as Turkey, neither have they been engaged into such a political debate and witnessed such a polarized public opinion. In the debate on a possible EU accession, both in the EU member states as well as in Turkey, controversial views have emerged which are expressed particularly through the media. The assumptions in the debate include the questions of cultural diversity; the geographic and historic position of Turkey; the question of the western value system; whether an Islamic country like Turkey would jeopardise the identity of the EU; or Turkey being too big and thus a financial burden for the European Union. This study approaches this topic by a communicator and recipient orientated perspective and describes the relationship between the media and the perspective of the recipients in relation to the European-Turkish debate on EU membership of Turkey. The main research question is: What topical focus points exhibit the reporting on Turkey in the framework of the EU accession process and to what extent do these reflect the attitudes and opinions of the recipients of these debates? Regarding the media perspective on the accession of Turkey to the European Union, an analysis of seven countries’ media coverage will be conducted based on print media. To analyse the recipients’ point of view, a secondary analysis of the Eurobarometer Studies will be conducted. The aim is to see, how the accession of Turkey to the European Union is debated in the newspapers in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The analysis of the Eurobarometer will help to determine the opinions on the EU membership of Turkey prevailing in the respective countries. The PhD’s theoretical basis will be a literature study about the European-Turkish discussion in public. To answer the research questions, a diversity of approaches and theories of communication and media studies will be combined, including the news value theory and agendasetting approaches. Furthermore, a comparison of international media systems and the role of mass communication in political processes and in the European public opinion will be of great importance. The reporting about the accession of Turkey to the European Union in the daily newspapers will be analysed in the framework of a qualitative and quantitative media content analysis. The secondary analysis of the Eurobarometer data will be conducted in order to understand the attitudes and opinions of recipients in EU member states. Through the comparative analysis the results of the primary data collection will be compared with the results of the secondary analysis. In addition, the comparative approaches will attempt to find out country-specific differences and similarities of reporting.