Turks oppose military intervention in Syria, gloomy on economy: Survey

Turks oppose military intervention in Syria, gloomy on economy: Survey

Turks oppose military intervention in Syria, gloomy on economy: Survey


Citizens are gloomy about Turkey’s economic prospects, suspicious of international partners, and opposed to military involvement in neighboring Syria, according to new research published on Oct. 7 by the German Marshall Fund. 

However, the Turkish Perceptions Survey revealed that a majority still favors membership in the European Union, Reuters reported.

Turkey has been battered by domestic and international headwinds in recent months, with inconclusive elections, weak economic growth, regional conflicts and a surge in outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant violence. 

In light of this, Turkish people overwhelmingly think the government should focus on domestic problems, according to the survey, carried out between July 4 and July 13 through face-to-face interviews with 1,018 respondents.

“Seventy percent of respondents said Turkey should deal first with its internal problems. Only 20 percent said Turkey should play a more active role in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central Asia,” according to the survey, conducted with financial support from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. 

Slightly more than half of respondents, at 51 percent, disapproved of Turkey’s current foreign policy, while 41 percent approved of it. 

Evidence of Turkish misgivings toward the country’s international partners comes at a time when the U.S. is keen to see Ankara do more in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

The survey also paints a picture of a population with weakening faith in the economic outlook after a period of growth. Some 47 percent said the economy had worsened in the last five years and only 39 percent said it had improved. Looking forward to the next year, 44 percent predict the economy will worsen and 28 percent expect an upturn. 

Despite a stalled EU accession bid and bitter disagreements over migration and human rights, 44 percent of Turks still favor membership of the bloc, with 23 percent opposed. 

NATO and the United Nations were viewed as trustworthy by just one-third of respondents. Most Turks were unable to identify a single one of the country’s international partners. Of those that did, most identified the United States.

However, U.S. foreign policies were widely distrusted, with just 17 percent saying they agreed with Washington’s policies in the Middle East. 

Some 57 percent opposed military intervention against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, while 29 percent would support military intervention. Just 17 percent said Turkey should be actively involved if the U.S.-led coalition decided to intervene, while 37 percent said they believe Turkey should stay out of the coalition altogether.

While majorities were against sending Turkish troops under all other scenarios, 46 percent of Turks supported the idea of sending troops to form a buffer zone to protect people in the region from ISIL. Forty-one percent of respondents were not in favor of this.