Turkish citizens want the European Union (EU) to be a close partner in dealing with international issues, according to the ‘Turkish Perceptions of the European Union’ survey conducted by the U.S.-based nonpartisan public policy think tank German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).
The survey results, which were obtained from 2,180 respondents who represented Turkey’s adult population, showed that 33.1% of participants said Turkey should collaborate most closely with the EU on international issues as they believe the union’s effectiveness in solving global problems would lead to better results for humanity. The EU is followed by Russia with 5.6%, China with 6.8%, and the U.S. with 4.7%. However, this opinion is more pronounced in the 18-24 age group compared to the general population. 44.4% of respondents in this age group want close cooperation with the EU.
On the other hand, the desire to act alone has also significantly increased in the country. 24.6% of the public thinks that Turkey shouldn’t collaborate with any country or group of countries on international issues. This ratio was 15.9% in the previous survey that was conducted in 2021.
‘Yes’ for full EU membership
The GMF’s survey results revealed that 61.4% of respondents would vote ‘Yes’ if there was a referendum on Turkey’s full EU membership this Sunday. The rate was up from 60.1% in 2021. Moreover, the tendency to vote in this direction was explicitly stronger in the 18-24 age group; 75.0% of the respondents stated they would vote ‘Yes’ as opposed to 61.4% in the general population.
The survey results also showed that Turkish citizens’ trust in the EU has increased. Those who expressed their confidence in the EU surged from 40.4% to 47.7% in 2022, compared to the previous year. The EU, which was top in terms of trust in European institutions, was followed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with 48.3% and NATO with 39.4%.
35.6% of Turkish citizens also believed Europe has the biggest say in solving global problems and improving the lives of the majority of humanity. The union was followed by China, and the U.S., respectively, in this category. However, it’s noteworthy that a considerable decline has been observed in the respondents who favored the U.S and Russia. The share of Turkish people who desired the U.S. to have a say to resolve problems for the sake of humanity dropped from 12.9% in 2021 to 5.8% in 2022. Those, who preferred Russia decreased from 10.5% in 2021 to 3.8% in 2022, especially after the country invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Russia’s perception deteriorates due to the war
Regarding international partnerships, Turkish citizens continue to consider Azerbaijan, Germany, and Russia as the top three important partner countries for Turkey. However, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkish citizens have started to be less likely to perceive Russia as a partner country– the share of participants who see Russia as a partner decreased from 18.6% to 13.8% this year, compared to the previous year’s survey.
The Russia-Ukraine war has also paved the way for the Turkish people to consider the country as a security threat. The survey pointed out that the share of respondents who perceived Russia as a threat increased from 19.0% to 31.0% in 2022 as compared to 2021. While the U.S. was seen as the biggest threat by Turkish people with a 58.3% share, 29.4% of people, up from 24.0% in the previous survey, perceived Israel as the third biggest security threat.
Turkey’s mediating role between the parties in the Russia-Ukraine war, meanwhile, is welcomed by 43.7% of respondents, according to the survey. However, the majority of people said Turkey should stay neutral. The share of those who stated Turkey should act together with Ukraine and Russia was 8.5% and 4.4%, respectively.
Turkey should go about its business
Within the scope of Turkey’s position in the international arena, the majority of survey participants said being an economically developed country is the leading role that Turkey can play in the world. However, their share dropped from 65.9% to 63.5% this year, compared to the previous year. There was also a significant increase in the number of participants who think that Turkey is influential in military issues. The share of those people increased from 30.6% in 2021 to 36.8% in 2022. In the meantime, the portion of those who said Turkey can act as a politically strong country in the world showed a slight decline from 38.8% to 37.0% in the same period.
But what do Turkish citizens think about where Turkey should play a role in the world? 58.7% of Turkish citizens say nowhere. According to the survey results, those people want Turkey to first address its domestic problems, while 38.2% of respondents said Turkey should play a more active role in the Middle East, Balkans, and North Africa.
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