Still 70 percent of Turks see the United States as an 'enemy,' according to global attitudes poll
WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News
U.S. officials had been hoping that Washington's recently-launched military cooperation with Turkey in the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party's, or PKK, terrorists in northern Iraq would help improve their country's terribly bad image in Turkey, but a survey proved that this was not the case. Some 70 percent of Turks view the United States as an "enemy," while only 8 percent considers Turkey's closest Western ally a "partner," according to an annual global attitudes report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center, a think tank here that conducts worldwide polls and surveys.The percentage of Turks having a favorable opinion about the United States rose by three points from last year to reach only 12 percent this year. About 77 percent of Turks had unfavorable views of the United States, the report said.President George W. Bush was faring even worse in Turkey. Only 2 percent of Turks had a favorable view of him.The Pew report covered 23 countries, and its data on Turkey was gathered through face-to-face interviews with 1,003 subjects from March 31 to April 21.
History of deterioration:
The United States' image has greatly worsened in Turkey over the past several years mainly because of the Iraq war and its consequences. About three out of five Turks had a favorable view of America only in 2000. The figure plummeted to its worst level last year with only 9 percent.One key reason why the United States is so unpopular in Turkey was considered to be what the Turks saw as U.S. reluctance and lack of action in dealing with the PKK's presence in northern Iraq in the wake of the 2003 Iraq war.But this situation has changed dramatically over the past six months after the United States started to provide the Turkish military with actionable intelligence for strikes against the PKK inside Iraq. Since mid-December, Turkish fighter aircraft have repeatedly hit hundreds of PKK targets and in late February elite Turkish ground forces conducted a one-week incursion inside a 10-mile strip on the Iraqi side of the border.Turkey's military and civilian leaders have repeatedly praised Washington for sharing military intelligence with Turkey, and it was hoped Ankara's official position would somewhat be shared by the Turkish public. But the Pew report made clear that no such improvement in the U.S. image has occurred so far.
Negative views on everyone, everything:
The Pew report also showed that a vast majority of Turks had no favorable views of the U.S. presidential contenders.Some 20 percent of Turks had confidence in Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee, and this figure was only 5 percent for his Republican counterpart John McCain. The two men are seeking to win the presidential election on Nov. 4.In fact Turks also did not have favorable view on other foreign leaders. For example, the popularity of German Chancellor Angela Merkel came out to be only 6 percent.A majority of Turks believed that a nuclear-armed Iran would mean a threat for Turkey.Amid the continuing fallout of a global financial crisis and skyrocketing energy and food prices, most Turks were pessimistic over economic prospects. About 21 percent of Turks had a favorable view of the country's economic situation, down from 46 percent last year.Some 55 percent said they expected their economic woes to worsen.