Dramatic rise in perceptions on role of president in Turkey’s foreign policy
ISTANBUL - HDNThe ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) campaign promoting the presidential system and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s vow to be an “active president” appear to be yielding success, with a recent poll registering significant changes in public perceptions of the president’s role in foreign policy-making.
Responding to a question on which institutions shape Ankara’s foreign policy, 28.4 percent said “the president,” a rise from 7.7 percent in the same poll conducted in 2013 by Kadir Has University.
While 30.7 percent said the prime minister makes the foreign policy in 2013, this ratio dropped to 20.5 percent in 2015.
Meanwhile, 25.8 percent agreed that the president “should contribute in foreign policy-making,” a rise from 8.8 percent in 2013. Some 41.9 percent said the president is “active in conducting foreign policy,” a rise from 7.7 percent in 2013.
There has also been a small drop from 16.7 percent in 2013 to 13.3 percent in 2015 in the number of those who believe the prime minister “should contribute to foreign policy-making.”
However, responding to the question of “Who is active in conducting foreign policy?” those who answered “prime minister” increased from 12.9 percent to 22.9 percent, perhaps reflecting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s previous position as foreign minister.
Some 45.5 of respondents defined Turkey as an “Islamic state,” an increase from 37 percent in 2013. While 26.4 percent described Turkey as a “European country,” 20.3 percent said it is a “Middle Eastern country.”
The situation in Syria remains top priority item in Turkish foreign policy according to respondents, with 20 percent ranking it top of the list this year. However, this marks a dramatic drop from the 65.5 percent saying the same in 2013.
On the subject of refugees in Turkey, 36.3 percent said the country should stop accepting refugees and refugees already here should be sent back. Some 15 percent said Turkey should accept no more refugees but those already here should not be sent back. Only 21 percent said refugees should be accepted regardless of how many come.
Turkey has no friends
Findings about the perceptions of Turkey’s “friends and enemies” appear to have changed little, with those saying “Turkey has no friends” remaining almost the same at 38.9 in 2015 and 38.6 in 2013.
There is an increase in the positive perception of Azerbaijan, with 37.5 percent naming it as Turkey’s top “friend,” marking an increase of 9 percent from 2013. Some 8.9 percent said Turkish Cyprus, a rise from the 3.8 percent in 2013, while 2.8 percent said Saudi Arabia, a rise of two points from the 2013 ratio.
Some 22 percent said they think Turkey should “conduct foreign policy independently,” marking a two-point rise from 2013. Those who said Turkey should “act together with Muslim countries” increased from 12.5 percent to 19.5 percent.
Support for EU membership has dropped among respondents, with just 42.4 percent saying they want Turkey to be member of the EU, down from 47.5 percent in 2013.
On the Israel-Palestine conflict, 33.6 percent of respondents said Turkey should assume an “active moderation” role, while 39.1 percent said it should in no way interfere. Only 24.8 said Turkey should explicitly support the Palestinians.
Some 38.8 percent of respondents said Turkey is a “regional power” in the Middle East, while 21.5 said it is a “leading state in the region” and 25.1 percent said Turkey is “uninfluential.”
As to the question of whether Turkey could be an example or role model to other Muslim countries, 68.1 percent said “yes.”
Social environment as reliable source
The survey also questioned respondents about their trust in news sources. Nearly 46 percent said they trusted news they got from their “social environment,” which in the poll was described as family, friends, and acquaintances. “Social environment” therefore ranked as the most trusted news source, with 32.1 percent saying they trusted it somewhat and 13.7 saying they trust it “very much.” In contrast, TV channels and Internet news portals came far behind “social environment” as trusted news sources among respondents.