Turkish-Greek friendship is a must

Turkish-Greek friendship is a must

The results of the “Turkish Policy Elites’ Perception on Turkish Foreign Policy and Greek-Turkish Relations” study conducted by the Center for International and European Studies (CIES) at Kadir Has University were recently released. The survey was conducted by CIES director Dimitrios Triantaphyllou with the assistance of International Relations PhD candidate Cihan Dizdaroğlu.

According to the survey, the Cyprus issue has an overwhelming importance for both sides regarding a resolution of bilateral issues.   

The rate of those who said the Cyprus issue should be solved is 95.9 percent in Turkey and 92.4 percent in Greece. Some 52.3 percent of Turkish policy elites think Turkey is playing a suitably active role in solution efforts on the Cyprus issue. 

Low levels of trust  

The survey indicates that there is strong support for the rapprochement process on both sides. While 89 percent of Turkish elites “completely agree” with the rapprochement strategy that Turkey has implemented toward Greece since 1999, this rate is 63.65 percent among Greek elites. 

However, still only 28 percent of Turkish elites say Turkey can trust Greece, while only 11.4 percent of Greek elites say Greece can trust Turkey. 

In the event that a crisis erupts between the two countries, a majority of Turks surveyed (67.7 percent of academics, 75.7 percent of the military, and 74.4 percent of diplomats, media and business representatives) think it would be related to the Aegean Sea. 

Some 47.7 percent of Turkish policy elites agree that Greece is an important EU member state, while 66.3 percent believe that Greece can influence international politics because it is a member of the EU and NATO. But just 25 percent said they “completely agree” with the statement “Greece is supporting Turkey’s accession to the EU.” 

Those who believe Turkey should pursue a “more active foreign policy” is 71.5 percent. This stands in contrast with the 79.1 percent who believe Ankara is “distancing from the West and moving closer to the Muslim world.” 

In response to the question “To what degree do you believe global concerns (Afghanistan, Syria, international terrorism, global warming, etc.) concern Turkish foreign policy?” some 76.2 percent answered “too much/much.” The rate of those who think Turkey is playing an active role in resolving the refugee crisis is 57 percent. 

The rate of Turkish policy elites who agree that an improvement in Greece’s economy is also in Turkey’s interest is 79 percent. 

Diplomatic storms but mild weather on Cyprus

The weather in Cyprus may be famously beautiful but storms are brewing in diplomacy. Half of Cyprus is Turkish while the other half is Greek. An agreement has failed to be reached since Turkey’s 1974 intervention, but today Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades are in the final stages of negotiations.  

In January, guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. took part in talks in Switzerland. There are tough negotiations on the issue of guarantorship and the security of the Turkish Cypriots. 

The Greek side rejects the future presence of Turkish troops as well as Turkey’s guarantor rights. The Turks, on the other hand, are refusing to give up on these things. There will be a solution if a mid-point can be found. 

Another important aspect is that if there is resolution, the entire island will be a member of the EU. In that case, will Turkish citizens need visas to go to Cyprus? 

Either way, we will see whether the Cyprus issue can be solved at a time when tension in the Aegean between Athens and Ankara is climbing.