The majority of the Turkish public believe that Turkey can provide its security needs even if it stays outside NATO, a recent study found.
According to a survey conducted by the Istanbul Economics research, 67 percent of Turkish citizens are of the opinion that Ankara is not too dependent on NATO. The interviewees said that Turkey can provide its necessary security items even if it stays outside the alliance.
Carried out in 12 provinces across Turkey with over 1,500 participants, the survey discovered that Turkish people do not favor NATO, especially after the recent incident. The research found that approval for NATO membership has gradually dropped. Another survey carried out in January also found that support for Turkey's membership to NATO dropped seriously in the last two years, from 76.2 percent in 2014 to 69.5 percent in 2015 and 58 percent in 2016.
Relations between Turkey and NATO have recently strained to a great extent after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the founding father of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, were portrayed as enemy forces during a NATO drill in Norway.
Initially, a technician used a picture of Atatürk he found online to represent enemy ranks. After Turkish officers confirmed the incident, the technician was dismissed from duty.
Another incident involved a Norwegian officer of Turkish origin, who opened a fake Erdoğan account on NATO's internal social media network and posted anti-alliance comments in the name of the president. After confirming the incident with Turkish officers at the naval forces command, the officer responsible for the incident was also dismissed.
The incidents sparked outrage in Turkey, leading to the withdrawal of 40 troops from a planned NATO drill. NATO was quick to react to the incidents. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg apologized for the incidents to Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and President Erdoğan. However, the survey was conducted before the enemy chart crisis erupted.
The Turkish-NATO alliance was also recently questioned after it was announced that Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu pointed to the resistance of some NATO allies in not providing security needs to Turkey. "Recently, some of the NATO allies are putting up serious resistance to giving Turkey defense systems, including simple weapons that we need. I need to build an air defense system. But I cannot buy it from my allies. Then I have to get it from somewhere else. I have an urgent need," Çavuşoğlu said.
Even though Stoltenberg previously said the alliance respects Turkey's decision to buy the missile defense systems, the U.S. remains bothered. Turkey's access to NATO technology will be restricted if it acquires the Russian S-400 air defense system as the current system is not "interoperable" with Russian missiles, Heidi Grant, the deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force for international affairs, said.
In another question, the interviewees said Turkey should forge alliances with Russia in politics, economy and security. Some 71.5 percent of respondents said they would be in favor of such alliances in different fields.
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