News / Europe

    Turks See Russia as Greatest Threat, Poll FInds

    FILE - Turkish protesters shout anti-Russia slogans as they hold a poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin that reads in Turkish and Russian "Assassin Putin!" during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 27, 2015.
    FILE - Turkish protesters shout anti-Russia slogans as they hold a poster of Russian President Vladimir Putin that reads in Turkish and Russian "Assassin Putin!" during a protest in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 27, 2015.
    Dorian Jones

    With Russian-Turkish tensions mounting, a recent poll finds that the Turkish people see Russia as their greatest threat.

    The annual survey on Turkish attitudes carried out by Istanbul's Kadir Has University shows Russia displacing Israel in the No. 1 spot.

    The findings are not surprising, says international relations expert Soli Ozel of Kadir Has, as Turkey's nationalist and pro-government media continue to target Moscow with accusations of conspiracies against Turkey - the expulsion of a Turkish diplomat from Bulgaria just last month was blamed on Moscow.

    "This is a public that gets 85 percent of its news from TVs,” Ozel said. “Given the fact that most TVs repeat the allegations, assertions and thoughts of the government, so long as the government does present the Russians as certainly very inimical to Turkey, and given the fact they did down a plane.  Russia would probably take pride of place in terms of Turkey threats."

    Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet operating from a Syrian airbase in November plunged the two countries into crisis. Until then, there had been two decades of deepening relations in trade and tourism, as well as growing numbers of inter-marriages.

    'Good old nasty feeling'

    But the historical rivalries always remained, says historian Ayhan Aktar of Istanbul's Bilgi University.

    "There is a good old nasty feeling between those two countries,” Aktar said. “And there have been several military encounters, which Turkey lost all of them. … Then we have the cold war. For ordinary Turks, there was no difference between Russia Empire and the Soviets, it was always Russia. Therefore, there is a basis for this enmity. "

    Aktar argues that historical suspicions by Turkey are not confined to Russia. The current crisis with Moscow, he says, is part of a wider pattern of national insecurity, both within society and the state.

    "In any ceremonies, commemorations in schools, you are always hearing that Turkey is surrounded with enemies,” he said. “It could be Greeks, Armenians, Russians, Iranians, whatever you can imagine."

    Moscow's recent deployment of fighters and bombers in Armenia, Turkey's neighbor, can only add to Turkey's unease — something well-known to Moscow, observers say. And considering Turkey’s strained or non-existent diplomatic relations with all its southern neighbors, historical insecurities are likely to intensify.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: william from: usa
    March 16, 2016 12:50 AM
    The really big news is that Russia cut out on Syria and when they cut out on Syria, they cut out on Iran...Turkey shouldn't be afraid...Remember when Russia and Germany were allies in 1939...When Russia cut out on Germany, Italy, and Japan...So, when Turkey sees that Russia is cutting out on its allies, you know it is out of the deep weakness of Russia's character.... ...

    by: Viktor from: Ukraine
    March 04, 2016 1:25 PM
    We stand in solidarity with you. We love and respect Turkey. About USA it is a progressive new technologies, it is evolution. About Russia it is KGB, prison, deathman Kadyrov-Putin, drunken peasants and slum.

    by: Jake from Albuquerque
    March 01, 2016 8:21 PM
    There are many valid reasons why educated people distrust and dislike Putin.
    The fact that he's a former KGB thug who used his underworld connections to get and stay in office.
    The fact that he dreams of resurrecting the Soviet empire, and bringing all of it's heavy handed brute force back.
    And, despite assassinating rivals and using government money to buy himself a $40 million yacht, his propaganda machine keeps the Russian peasantry in the dark.

    No wonder he and Donald Trump get along so well!
    In Response

    by: baba Voenga from: underground
    March 02, 2016 3:57 AM
    You have a more appropriate, short-distance, more immediate and more understandable, for you object to distrust and dislike. Pay attention to your state, country, city, former and in force CIA thugs, functionaries.
    Why you so care and so excited about Russia, Putin, Putins dreams & yachts, "propaganda machine" & "the Russian peasantry in the dark"?
    You have nothing to do & to think about something else (pleasant)?
    Putin prevents you to set up your order at the other side of the globe?

    by: Rich Tee
    March 01, 2016 5:34 PM
    Turkey is just upset with Russia. Turkey has spent millions arming and supporting ISIS and other terrorists groups in Syria. Those darn Russians are destroying all of Turkey's investments......
    In Response

    by: nino from: na
    March 01, 2016 11:46 PM
    Rich Tee
    yada yada kremlin propaganda talking lines.
    Whatever happened to "Turkey is our strategic partner"? Didn't hear anything from Russia about "Turkey supporting ISIS" until few months ago, just like there were no howling from Russia about "Ukraine NAZI" until Russia invaded Ukraine.

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