Russians’ perception of Turkey improving: Report
REUTERS photoRussian citizens have increasingly ceased to perceive Turkey as a hostile state and are in favor of restoring bilateral relations in all areas, according to a survey conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM).
VCOIM carried out a survey asking Russian respondents on their views on relations between Turkey and Russia. According to the research, the level of animosity felt toward Turkey among the Russian society has decreased significantly.
Relations between the two countries strained last year after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet for violating Turkish air space. But after recent rapprochement, the two countries began normalizing ties, excluding a number of economic embargos that are still in place, with Russian tourists flocking back to Turkey’s resort provinces.
In 2016, 70 percent of the respondents in the survey described Russian-Turkish relations as “tense” or “hostile,” but the number dropped to 28 percent this year. According to experts, this is due to increased meetings held between the leaders of the countries, removing Russians’ concerns about Turkey.
According to VCIOM’s “Sputnik” survey, the number of respondents who assessed Russian-Turkish relations as “hostile” decreased to 4 percent from 23 percent last year, while those who called relations “tense” decreased to 24 percent this year from 47 percent in 2016.
Yet the share of positive comments on the improving relations remained low, with 8 percent describing the situation as “neighborly,” 6 percent as “friendly,” and only 5 percent saying “quite friendly.”
In 2017, 49 percent of the Russian respondents said their country should maintain and develop cooperation with Turkey, after a promising increase from 19 percent last year.
When respondents were asked about their views on isolating Turkey, only 12 percent of them supported in favor of it, compared to 35 percent last year.
VCIOM head Stepan Lvov said the resumption of dialogue between the leaders of the two countries on delicate issues including the Syrian war, the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, and the lifting of embargoes on food imports and exports eased Russian worries over the damaged relations.
Lvov confirmed that the attempts shown by Russia and Turkey to cease the hostility have had a positive impact on Russians’ perception on Turkey.
Vladimir Dzhabarov, the first deputy chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee for International Affairs, said the shifting attitude of the Russians toward Turkey was “logical and natural.”
“We know that in recent years our countries have made a number of steps toward each other. A particular success was the last meeting held between the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” he said.
“I believe that normalization in our relations, the lifting of restrictions, and the restoration of air travel has had a positive impact on Turkey’s image in the eyes of Russians. Especially because it is a favorite place for many of our citizens,” he added.