Survey: Israel and US biggest threats for Turkey

Sevgi Akarçeşme

According to the results of a recent survey of Turkish people's opinions about the country's foreign policy by İstanbul's Kadir Has University, Israel and the US are considered the biggest threats to the country, a finding in line with the traditional hostility toward these countries in Turkey.
The rector of the university, Professor Mustafa Aydın, hosted a group of columnists on Wednesday to reveal the results of the survey, which was conducted in April among urban populations across Turkey, totaling 1,000 people.
In response to a question concerning which country they see as the biggest threat to Turkey, 42.6 percent of respondents said Israel, while 35.3 percent said the United States. The same survey held in 2013 found 37.1 and 41.7 disapproval rates, respectively, for these two countries. These results indicate a decrease in animosity toward the US and an increase toward Israel.
While 8.7 percent of respondents said that no country poses a threat to Turkey, a significant portion of the population -- 38.9 percent -- said that “Turkey has no friends.” This belief, however, is almost unchanged from the 2013 result, when the figure stood at 38.6 percent.
Among countries that are considered friendly, Azerbaijan at 37.5 percent ranks first, followed by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) at 8.9 percent and Bosnia and Herzegovina at 6 percent.
Although Turkey is officially a candidate country for European Union membership, 10.2 percent of respondents said that EU countries constitute a threat to Turkey, though that is a slight decrease from 12.8 percent in 2013. Following Israel and the US, Syria at 22.1 percent and Armenia at 20.3 percent rank as the top threats for Turkey.

Desire for EU membership in decline
When respondents were asked whether they want Turkey to become an EU member, 42.4 percent said yes, with over 20 percent undecided. This is in comparison to the 2013 results, when 47.5 percent supported EU membership. According to Associate Professor Sinem Akgül Açıkmeşe, such a decline has been in place over the last decade. Furthermore, seven out of every 10 people in Turkey believes that Turkey's EU membership has been blocked. When asked about the reason why Turkey's membership bid has been blocked, 46.2 percent of the people cite a “difference in religion and identity” between Turkey and the EU, a slight increase from the 2013 results.
Only a slim 9.8 percent believe that there is no alternative to the EU for Turkey, while 27.7 percent of respondents favored the establishment of a “Turkic union.”

Overwhelming majority consider ISIL a terrorist organization
Although a significant majority of society -- 85.1 percent -- say that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a terrorist organization, 24.1 percent say that it does not pose a threat to Turkey. A total of 65.4 percent believe that ISIL is a threat, while 10.5 percent are undecided.
As far as refugees in Turkey are concerned, over half of respondents (51.3 percent) said that Turkey should stop accepting refugees, while 36.3 percent said they should be sent back to their countries. Only 15 percent said refugees should not be sent back.
When it comes to the president's role in foreign policy formation, the study also had striking findings. Compared to the 2013 results, when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was prime minister, people's perception that the president has a role in influencing in foreign policy has risen. Only 7.7 percent of respondents said the president influences foreign policy in Turkey in 2013, while the figure now stands at 28.4 percent.

"Today's Zaman," May 27, 2015

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