Greeks oppose government's Turkey policy, Greece-based poll says

Published 01.05.2018 00:00

The policies of the Greek government toward Turkey have failed to find broad support among Greek citizens with an overwhelming majority of the public believing that it should continue dialogue with Ankara, a survey has revealed.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Greek-based research institution Public Issue, more than 55 percent of Greek society finds the government's policy toward Turkey wrong.

The research entitled "Greece and the World 2018" was conducted nationwide with the participation of 600 Greek respondents between April 16 and April 23 through telephone interviews. The research aimed to determine Greek public opinion regarding the conditions of the escalating crisis in Greek-Turkish relations.

The results showed that 56 percent of the participants find their government's stance toward the Turkish-Greek crisis "probably wrong," while 32 percent of the participants said "probably correct."

At the same time, 54 percent of the respondents stressed that the Greek government's handling of bilateral relations with Turkey is "probably wrong," while only 37 percent of the participants saying it "probably correct."

On the other hand, the research also demonstrated that the Greek public is in favor of continuing dialogue between the two countries. The vast majority of the participants, 70 percent, said engagements in negotiations should keep going, while only 28 percent of them were against talks.

Though Greek public opinion toward Turkey underlined inequity in their government's approach, Greeks are still not in favor of Turkey's accession to the European Union. The poll found that 67 percent of the respondents were "probably against" the accession, while only 27 percent of them are "probably in favor."

The rising tensions between Greece and Turkey affect public opinion due to the possibility of a war. The participants were also asked whether it is likely that a war will break out between the two countries. A total of 44 percent of the interviewees said it was "probable." The research institution conducted the same research with the same questions in March 2016 and the percentages have shown a rising trend in the possibility of a war in the eyes of the public. According to the 2016 results, only 33 percent of the participants said a war was "likely."

The relations between the two countries have been strained over ongoing issues in the Aegean and Cyprus. Turkish warships blocked an Italian oil rig from reaching a natural gas exploration zone unilaterally declared by the Greek Cypriot administration, Turkey opposes the drilling before a permanent solution is reached on the island.

In another incident, two coast guard vessels, one Turkish and one Greek, collided off the Kardak islets rekindling tensions in the two-decade issue stemming from the larger territorial waters dispute in the Aegean.

Furthermore, eight putschist soldiers fled from Turkey to Greece after the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. Greece's top administrative court released Süleyman Özkaynakçı, one of the eight putschist officers, on April 18.

Also, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who is well-known for his anti-Turkish remarks, raises tensions by constantly criticizing Turkey for intervening near the Greek coast and gets reaction from the opposition wing as well as his own supporters. In response to the negative remarks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras allegedly warned Kammenos to tone down his rhetoric.

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