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Majority of Turks think their country is surrounded by enemies

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An overwhelming majority of Turks, 64 percent, think they are living in a country that is surrounded by enemies on all sides, according to a recent opinion poll.

The results of the “Turkey’s Pulse” survey were announced on Monday on the X social media platform by Professor Özer Sencar, owner of the Metropoll polling company.

The survey, conducted on 1,807 people across 28 provinces in Turkey Sept. 16-20, showed that supporters of different political parties have more or less the same opinion about Turkey being surrounded by “enemies.”

A total of 65.5 percent of supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) believe Turkey is surrounded by enemies, 52.7 percent of main opposition Republican People’s Party supporters, 75.7 percent of far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) supporters, 58.4 percent of İYİ (Good) Party supporters and 53.4 percent of supporters of the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party (YSP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Sencar said when it comes to the perception of neighboring countries as enemies, the differences between political parties and ethnic identities almost disappear.

Turkey, which had a “zero problems with neighbors” policy a decade ago, now has frequent disputes with its neighbors, especially with Greece, due to alleged violations of Greece’s airspace and territorial waters in the Aegean Sea.

To another question asking if they are living in a country that foreigners want to divide, 62.4 percent of respondents said ”yes,” while 34 percent said “no.”

The belief about foreign countries’ desire to divide Turkey is spread equally among supporters of the various political parties.

“… the widespread belief that foreign powers aim to divide Turkey does not recognize boundaries of political party or [ethnic] identity. Government and opposition voters have similar views,” Sencar said.

It is common among Turkish government officials and the people to associate the country’s economic and social problems with the “interference” of foreign countries. But there are also others who think the Turkish government points a finger at “foreign countries” for the many problems in the country in order to mask its own failure.

Turks’ perceptions about other countries are not one-sided as the country is seen as the least reliable partner by the people of 13 countries on both sides of the Atlantic, according to the results of the Transatlantic Trends 2023 survey, announced last month.

According to the report, only 25 percent of the foreign public see Turkey as a reliable partner, which makes it the least reliable partner for these countries, while Canada, Germany and Sweden are seen as the most reliable.

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