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Transatlantic Trends 2022 - Public Opinion in Times of Geopolitical Turmoil

The results of the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey were published. As last year, Turkey's inclusion in the Survey was made possible thanks to the support of the KAS Türkiye.

The results of the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey, conducted by The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Bertelsmann Foundation (North America) in partnership with BBVA Foundation, Montreal Jean Monnet Center, Luso-American Foundation for Development (FLAD), Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Türkiye (KAS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in France, were published on 29 September 2022.

The results of the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey, conducted by The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) and the Bertelsmann Foundation (North America) in partnership with BBVA Foundation, Montreal Jean Monnet Center, Luso-American Foundation for Development (FLAD), Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Türkiye (KAS) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in France, were published on 29 September 2022.

Kantar Public carried out the fieldwork for the survey, which covers the USA, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Romania, as well as Türkiye, between March 26, 2022 and July 11, 2022. A sample of 1,500 people aged 18 and over was used in each country. Data was collected through online access panels (in Türkiye: 1,000 online and 500 in-person surveys were conducted) and results were weighted by age, gender, income, region, and occupation.

Özgür Ünlühisarcıklı, Director of the Marshall Fund's Ankara Office, commented on the survey results: 

"Turkey's inclusion in the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey is a sign of the importance GMF attaches to Turkey and its position in the transatlantic community. The results of the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey once again highlighted the problem of mutual trust between Turkey and its Western allies. Turkey was the least trusted partner in every country where the survey was conducted, while Turkey was the least trusted partner in every country where the survey was conducted. Unfortunately, this problem of mutual trust observed in public opinion is also observed among decision makers and policy makers. Today, there are many problems between Turkey and its Western allies. Even if it is possible to solve these problems one by one, it cannot be said that Turkey's relations with its Western allies are on a solid ground without rebuilding mutual trust. However, in the current conjuncture, it is crucial that the relationship between Turkey and its Western allies is on a solid foundation, as Russia's aggression against Ukraine and its tendency to escalate this behavior has increased Turkey's need for its Western allies and Western allies' need for Turkey. In the coming period, steps should be taken to smooth out the rough edges in both EU-Turkey and US-Turkey relations, while building mutual trust in the eyes of public opinion should be a top priority. 

As last year, Turkey's inclusion in the Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey was made possible thanks to the support of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Türkiye (KAS). For KAS Director Walter Glos, it is very important to examine the views and attitudes of the Turkish population towards the transatlantic community. He also pointed out that trust is an important aspect in international relations and that both political leaders in Turkey and Western allies should be asked why there is so much skepticism towards Turkey abroad and towards Western allies among the Turkish population. Compared to the previous year, the Turkish population's trust in Germany continues to decline. Walter Glos emphasized that the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Turkey Office will continue to work for understanding and dialogue between Turkey, Germany and the EU. 

 

SUMMARY RESULTS

The Transatlantic Trends 2022 Survey shows a transatlantic consensus on issues such as NATO, the US role in European security and Ukraine. From the perspective of European public opinion, the European Union is seen as an important global actor. However, there is no transatlantic reflex to cooperate on strategic challenges. Regarding relations with China, there are divergent attitudes between US and European public opinion, as well as between the public opinion of different European countries.

Turkish respondents are more likely than respondents from other countries to advocate an independent approach to their countries' relations with China and Russia. In addition, most Turks are negative about the influence of the US and the EU, disapprove of US President Biden's management of international relations and do not want the US to play a role in European security. 

Most Turks prefer cooperation with China rather than competition. Public opinion in other countries does not view Turkey and Turkish public opinion does not view others as reliable partners. Turkish public trust in Turkey's partners has dropped significantly compared to 2021.

Nearly three quarters of Turks surveyed are dissatisfied with the current state of democracy in Turkey.

Transatlantic Relations

The "crisis of confidence" between Turkey and its Western Allies manifests itself in the fact that Turkish public opinion does not find Western countries trustworthy, and public opinion in Western countries does not find Turkey trustworthy. In five years' time, the influence of the US and the EU is expected to diminish, while that of China and Russia will increase. Germany stands out as the country that the Turkish public trusts the most.

The US is seen as the most influential actor in international relations by 60% of the Turks surveyed, and this rate rises to 70% among those over the age of 55. On the other hand, 36% expect the US to be the most influential global actor five years from now. The US is followed by the EU with 15% and China with 14%. On the other hand, the rate of those who think that the EU will be the most powerful actor in five years remains at 12%, while the rate of those who think that China will be the most powerful actor rises to 30%. While 10% of Turks think that Russia is the most powerful global actor, the rate of those who think that Russia will be the most powerful global actor in five years' time rises to 15%.

While 30% of respondents in all countries surveyed view the role of the US in global affairs negatively, this rate reaches 67% in Turkey. Similarly, 21% of respondents in all countries surveyed view the EU's role in global affairs negatively, compared to 53% in Turkey. Russia's role in global affairs is viewed negatively by 66% of Turkish respondents, while 58% view China's role in global affairs negatively.

29% of Turks think that Germany is the most influential country in Europe. While 23% and 21% of respondents in all countries surveyed think that France and the UK are the most influential countries in Europe, 18% and 15% of Turks think the same. In all countries where the survey was conducted, the rate of those who think that Turkey is the most influential country in Europe is 3%, while this rate rises to 12% in Turkey.

65% of Turks surveyed view US President Biden's handling of international relations unfavorably. This is considerably higher than the 32% average across all countries surveyed.

Turkey is not seen as a reliable partner in the countries surveyed. While only 27% of respondents in the other countries surveyed see Turkey as a reliable partner, Turkey ranks at the bottom of the list in terms of reliability after Lithuania (43%) and Romania (32%). Romania (63%), Lithuania (36%), Poland (35%, up 9 points from last year) and the US (33%) are the countries with the highest rates of trustworthiness, while Sweden (11%, down 5 points from last year), Germany (17%) and France (18%) are the countries with the lowest rates of trustworthiness. 

In Turkey, on the other hand, trust in partners has declined significantly compared to last year. Forty-three percent of Turkish respondents (down 11 points from last year) consider Germany to be a reliable partner. Germany is followed by Canada (down 15 points on last year), Spain (down 9 points on last year) and Italy (down 8 points on last year), each with 37%. The partners that Turks find least trustworthy are the US (17%), the UK (24%) and France (25%). The biggest decline in terms of trust is observed for Sweden. While 53% of Turks surveyed in 2021 stated that they considered Sweden to be a reliable partner, this rate dropped to 33% in 2022.

Across all countries surveyed, the average of those who think democracy is under threat in their country is 45%, while this rate rises to 74% in Turkey. Italy follows Turkey in this regard with 64%.

International Security

Security threat perceptions in Turkey differ from other countries surveyed. Among Turkish respondents, 37% see migration, 16% see terrorism and 15% see war between countries as the most important security threat. Across all countries surveyed, 18% of respondents see climate change, 18% see war between countries and 17% see Russia as the most important security threat.

Across all countries surveyed, 78% of respondents think NATO is important for their country's security, while 65% of Turks agree. While 58% of Turks think that the EU is important for their country's security, this rate rises to 66% in the 18-24 age group. While 17% of European respondents think that the US should not play a role in Europe's security, 53% of Turkish respondents agree.

56% of Turks think that Turkey should pursue an independent policy in its relations with Russia. On average, 27% of respondents in the countries surveyed think that Turkey should pursue a NATO-mediated policy towards Russia, compared to 18% in Turkey. The share of Turks who think that the EU should pursue a policy towards Russia is 13%, compared to 16% in non-EU countries.

There are different views on support for Ukraine in Turkey. 52% of Turks support increased economic support for Ukraine, while 40% oppose it; 46% support increased military aid to Ukraine, while 43% oppose it; 45% support a no-fly zone over Ukraine to prevent Russian planes from flying over Ukraine, while 40% oppose it. While the majority of the public supports all of the above-mentioned measures in support of Ukraine, there are also measures that the majority of the public opposes. 28% of Turks support increasing the number of Turkish troops in NATO units close to Ukraine, while 61% oppose it; 30% support taking in more Ukrainian refugees, while 60% oppose it; and 30% support a ban on buying oil and gas from Russia, even if it leads to price hikes, while 59% oppose it.

Accepting countries like Sweden and Finland as members of NATO in the short term is opposed by 15% of respondents in all countries surveyed, compared to 49% in Turkey. Across all countries surveyed, 73% of respondents support NATO admitting Sweden and Finland as members, compared to 36% in Turkey.

China

58% of Turks think that China's influence on global affairs is negative, compared to 57% across all countries. 25% of respondents in all countries surveyed see China as a partner, compared to 36% in Turkey. Across all countries surveyed, 29% of respondents see China as a competitor, compared to 24% in Turkey. 

Of all the countries surveyed, Turkey shows the greatest support for cooperation with China. 58% of Turkish respondents support cooperation with China on new technologies, 55% on trade and 54% on energy and raw materials. More Turks also support cooperation on climate change and pandemics (45% and 37% respectively) than those who do not. While 31% of Turks favor cooperation with China on human rights, 33% think that a tougher stance should be taken against China on this issue. On international crisis management, 33% favor more cooperation, while 31% favor a tougher stance.

On the other hand, 51% of Turks who support a tougher stance against China do not support it if it would harm the Turkish economy. 56% of the Turks surveyed support their country to conduct its relations with China independently from other actors. While 16% of Turks favor a policy towards China together with Asian countries, 13% support acting together with the EU.

In the case of China's invasion of Taiwan, 45% of Turks think that a purely diplomatic approach should be taken. 15% support sanctions against China together with other countries, while support for both military support and sending troops to Taiwan remains at 2%.