People in Turkey’s long-standing trend of not trusting the U.S. continues as a recent survey revealed that almost half of the participants referred to the country as unreliable. The Areda Survey research company’s recent survey that was released on Friday sheds light on Turkish people’s opinion over the recent developments in the country’s foreign policy, especially regarding relations with the U.S. According to the survey, 41.4% of the participants expressed that the problems with the U.S. occur because it does not keep its promises that were given to Turkey, which makes it untrustworthy. Some 28.5%, however, said that the main reason behind the problems is that the U.S. acts as a “colonist” power, especially in the Middle East, while 12.5% said that the reason is the fact that the NATO ally does not recognize the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as a terrorist group. The survey was released on Friday. When they were asked to define the U.S. with one word, 58.9% used the word “colonist,” while 23.5% said “enemy,” and 16% said “self-seeking.” The survey is conducted with the participation of 4.036 people in between Oct. 5-11 and included a wide range of topics, from the economic investments to the foreign policy of Turkey as well as the bilateral ties with the U.S. Still, 49.3% of the participants said that Turkey should remain as a NATO member while 33.8% expressed their opinions in the opposite direction. As far as the NATO İncirlik Air Base that is located in southeastern Turkey is concerned, however, 64% of the participants stated that it should be shut down immediately, while 30% expressed that the base should be removed only if ties with the U.S. worsen.
Enemy or ally? Some 59.6% stated that the U.S. sees Turkey as a country that it “has to” cooperate with while 2.9% said that the NATO ally sees country as an “enemy.” The percentage of the ones who said the U.S. sees Turkey as a “strategic” country, however, remained at 10%. The participants also underlined that they do not trust to the U.S. President Donald Trump as well; 84.4% said that he “should not be trusted,” while only 6% saw him as trustworthy. In terms of their opinions over the extradition of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen, the majority of the participants, at 78%, said that they do not believe that he will ever be extradited while 15% expressed hope that if Turkey continues to be determined in its stance on the issue, he will eventually be extradited. As a reason for not extraditing Gülen, the participants expressed several opinions, from U.S. using FETÖ as a political tool, U.S. being afraid that ties with the terrorist group will be revealed, to the fact that U.S. does not see FETÖ as a terrorist group and there is lack of legal evidence proving Gülen’s crimes. The participants were also asked the reasons why the U.S. Congress has recently recognized the 1915 events as a “genocide.” While 28.3% expressed that the real reason was to give a lesson to Turkey for launching Operation Peace Spring, 20% said that the reason was the fact that Armenian votes will matter in the upcoming U.S. elections. Some 19.4% said that this was the result of the fact that Armenian lobby is quite strong in the U.S. while 18.5% said that this was only an outcome of anti-Turkish hatred embedded in the U.S. Congress. Erdoğan-Trump meeting In general, the survey participants held negative stance regarding the future of the ties with the NATO ally as 82% expressed that as long as the problems like S-400 missiles purchase, YPG support and FETÖ lingers, the tension between the two countries will not decrease any time soon. This negative stance also seems to reflect on the participants’ expectations from the bilateral meetings. Taking place ahead of the historical meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President Trump last week, the survey shows that the Turkish people were not expecting the meeting to be fruitful by any means. A total of 70% of the participants expressed in the survey that in their opinion, nothing will change in the aftermath of the meeting with zero effect on Turkish-American ties, while only 20% said that they are expecting it to end in positive terms. However, despite the negative expectations of the public and mistrust for Trump, the meeting seems to be resulted in remarkable outcomes for the bilateral ties, especially thanks to personal relationship between the two countries’ leaders. According to Ali Çınar, the president of U.S.-based Turkish Heritage Organization and an expert on Turkish-American relations, the face-to-face meeting was actually a “very significant step in resolving disagreements.” “Both leaders seemed to be invested in reducing tensions and finding a way forward which will benefit both sides. At a crucial time, the leaders found avenues of cooperation to be strengthened and disputes resolved. Sincere and candid conversation with senators at White House was very important for the NATO Allies,” Çınar said, adding that it was a first time that a Turkish Leader spent time over four hours at the White House. “Turkey had a chance to share the concerns and solutions at the joint press conference,” he added, underlining that there is a strong level of communication between President Erdogan and President Trump and that they understand each other in terms of working on solving the issues. “There are many issues still sitting on the table; however open dialogue is the key for the relationship,” he further highlighted. Regarding the overall foreign policy of Turkey, 45.1% of the participants say that Turkey should cooperate with the Turkic countries while 15.3% said the European Union and 10.6% said the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). At total of 45.9% of the participants see Turkey as a part of the Turkic world, while 27% see it as a part of the Islamic world and 17% see it as a part of Europe.
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