ANKARA: The three main security challenges of the Turkish people are immigration, terrorism and interstate war, while Western countries are mainly concerned about climate change and Russia, the latest Transatlantic Trends Report revealed on Thursday, published by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. .
The 2022 edition of the survey was conducted in 14 countries between June and July 2022. The 11 European countries are France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The other nations are the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
Turkey is also the country that least wants American involvement in the defense and security of Europe. Compared to 88% of Poles, 86% of Lithuanians and 85% of Portuguese, only 38% of Turks support the role of the United States in European security.
The traditional skepticism towards the United States remains among the Turks. While a clear majority of respondents in Europe approve of US President Joe Biden’s handling of international affairs, approval is highest in Poland and lowest in Turkey.
Along the same lines, Turkey is the only country with a large majority (67%) to have a negative opinion of American influence.
“The security threats perceived by the Turkish population differ significantly from those of their NATO allies,” Nils Lange, researcher at Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Turkey, told Arab News.
“It is important that European partners continue to support Turkey on migration, especially in times of tension, and that NATO allies support and listen to Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” Lange said.
The survey in Turkey was conducted with 1,063 people face-to-face and 500 online between May and July, with financial support from the Turkish branch of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
The largest drops in trusted partner status were detected for Poland, Turkey, the United States and Spain. Turkey is still considered the least reliable partner on average, with 27% in 2022, compared to 23% in 2021.
The countries with the least positive opinions on the reliability of Turkey are Sweden (11%), Germany (17%), France (18%) and the Netherlands (19%).
In Turkey, the perception of the reliability of the United States also fell from 23% in 2021 to 17% this year.
The director of the GMF office in Ankara, Ozgür Unluhisarcikli, believes this to be the most important finding of the survey.
“Alliances are built on shared interests and values, but thrive on mutual trust. The mutual distrust between the Turkish public and the publics of Turkey’s allies highlights the main problem (of) Turkey’s relations with its allies,” he told Arab News.
As Turkish people’s trust in other countries has continued to decline, Lange said countries that Turks have less trust in surprisingly include Germany, which traditionally enjoys a relatively high level of trust in Turkey. in comparison.
“However, on the other side, the German population seems to have very little confidence in Turkey,” he said.
“Given that the Turkish population, however, considers Germany to be the most influential country in Europe, the German government must take a closer look at relations with Turkey. They must also decide how Turkey’s future relationship with Europe should be shaped.
According to Lange, the relatively well-meaning attitude of the Turkish population towards Germany and the negative perception of Turkey and its government among the German population form a stark contrast that needs to be resolved through greater education.
“It is a fact that the average German knows too little about Turkey and its people,” he added.
Around 3 million people of Turkish descent currently live in Germany, which began welcoming guest workers from Turkey in 1961.
Sweden is perceived as the most reliable partner in all the countries surveyed (71%), except Turkey, with 33%.
Last year, Turkish respondents rated Sweden as the second most trusted country after Germany.
“While we often focus on how politics can be affected by public opinion, the fact that Sweden has been downgraded from the second most reliable partner to the least reliable partner in just (one) year shows how public opinion is affected by domestic and foreign policies,” Unluhisarcikli said.
Although there is overwhelming support in Europe (73%) for Finland and Sweden joining NATO, only 36% of Turks are in favour, while nearly a third of respondents are strongly disagree with this membership.
At the end of June, Turkey reached an agreement to support the candidacies of the two Nordic countries to join NATO after an intense diplomatic deadlock on the grounds that they had not reacted positively to Ankara’s extradition requests.
In Turkey, a significant number (58%) say the EU is important for their country’s security, with young respondents seeing the EU as important for national security.
But a majority of respondents in all countries except Turkey see the EU’s influence in world affairs as positive. Overall, 53% of Turks see the EU’s global influence as negative.
Similarly, Turks are also opposed to Russian and Chinese influences in world affairs, which they view as negative at 66% and 68% respectively. In managing their country’s relations with China and Russia, 56% of Turkish respondents also prefer to pursue an independent approach.
Lange thinks these results show that the Turkish government’s desire for a more autonomous foreign policy is gaining ground in society.
Turkish respondents are less interested in working through NATO (18%, compared to an average of 27% among non-EU countries), and 13% want to work with the EU (against an average of 16% among non-EU countries).
According to Unluhisarcikli, these statistics reflect unilateralist tendencies in Turkish society, mainly due to distrust of allies.
Globally, the share of respondents who consider NATO’s role in their country’s security to be important is 78%, an increase of 11 points from 2021, while in Turkey it is 65%, a decrease of 4 points compared to last year.
Within the transatlantic community, respondents consider Germany to be the most influential country in Europe, followed by France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Turkey.
A majority of respondents in Turkey want their country to tackle global challenges by working only with democracies.
However, the share of Turks saying that democracy in their country is in good condition has fallen from 35% to 21% in one year, while almost half of them say that democracy is in danger, an increase 7 points compared to last year.
On reactions to the war in Ukraine, Turks took a balanced position, with only 42% supporting Russia’s prosecution for war crimes (average 74%), 43% supporting stronger economic sanctions against Russia (average of 71%).
Similarly, only 34% of Turks approve of the offer of NATO membership to Ukraine (average of 58%), while 46% support the increase of military supplies and equipment to Ukraine (average of 66%), and 45% are in favor of establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine for Russian aircraft (average 64%).
“The majority of Turks are against Russia’s sanction because they think such a course of action would also harm the Turkish economy,” Unluhisarcikli said.
“The fact that Turkey itself has been subject to sanctions or threats of sanctions from the United States and European countries in recent years also cannot be ignored. Unilateralist tendencies also prevent the Turkish public from automatically supporting transatlantic initiatives,” he added.
Transatlantic Trends is a project co-led by the GMF and the Bertelsmann Foundation (North America).