Greek-Turkish Relations and The Perceptions of Their Elites

 

 

 

A new survey was recently conducted by Kadir Has University experts to measure how Turkish Elites view Turkish Foreign Policy and Greek Turkish Relations.This study was conducted in the form of a survey with 41 close ended questions which looked fundamentally three sets of issues: Turkey’s position in the world; Greece’s foreign policy; and Greek-Turkish relations. The research team was led by Associate Professor Dimitrios Triantaphyllou, the Chairman of the Department of International Relations and the Director of the Center for International and European Studies at Kadir Has University with the support of Dr. Cihan Dizdaroglu.

It was inspired by an earlier study/survey, whose results were published in November 2014, that Associate Professor Dimitrios Triantaphyllou had conducted together with Associate Professor Kostas Ifantis for the Hellenic Observatory of the London School of Economics. That survey measured the perceptions of Greek elites about Turkey’s Foreign Policy and Greek-Turkish Relations.

 

The elites in both surveys were representative elites from the following categories: business, journalism, diplomacy, the military, politics, and academia.

 

Here are some of the key findings which reflect the mindset of elites in both countries with results from both surveys being presented.

 

  • There is strong support for the rapprochement process on both sides with 89% of the Turkish elites in favor of it in contrast to 63.5% of their Greek counterparts.

 

  • On the other hand, the level of trust towards the “other” is especially low – at some 28% for Turkish elite and 11.4% by Greek elites. This lack of trust obviously affects key aspects of the bilateral relationship.

 

  • From a Turkish perspective, the perceived role and importance of Greece in the European Union (47.7%) and the perception that Greece has no other alternatives than belonging to the EU (84%) stand in sharp contrast with Turkey’s need for a greater international role (71.5%) and its distancing from the West (79.1%). While 47.7% of Turkish respondents consider Greece to be an important EU member state, 66.3% think that Greece can influence international politics because it is a member of the EU and NATO while 84% think that Greece has no other alternatives that belonging to the EU.

 

  • In fact, 50.6% of Turkish elites considers Greece’s EU membership to be a threat for Turkey. This is reflected in the fact that only 25% think that Greece is steadily supporting Turkey’s accession to the EU as opposed to the 51.6% of Greek elites that believe that Greece should continue steadily supporting Turkey’s accession to the EU.

 

  • Furthermore, both Turkish and Greek elite stressed the overwhelming importance of the Cyprus issue for the resolution of bilateral issues – at 95,9% for Turkish elites and 92.4% for Greek elites.

 

  • Yet, while 52.3% of Turkish elites perceive Turkey to be a constructive player in the resolution of the Cyprus issue, 72.9% believe that Greece is not constructive.

 

  • Also, 41.9% of Turkish elites and 47% of Greek elites consider Greek-Turkish relations to be neither good, nor bad while 53.5% of Turkish elites and 47% of their Greek counterparts consider any crisis between the two countries within the next five years are improbable or rather improbable.

 

  • Nevertheless, if a crisis were to erupt between the two countries, the majority of Turkish elites seem to think that it would be related to the Aegean – according to 67.7% of Academic elites; 75.7% of military elite; and 74.4% of media, diplomatic, and business elites.

 

  • On a positive note, Turkish elites see the potential for cooperation with Greece in the energy sector. In fact, 61% of Turkish elites believe that Turkey, as an energy hub, can play an active role in reducing the EU's energy dependence, following the discovery of new natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkish elites (62.2%) also believe that that Greece can play an active role in reducing the EU's energy dependence, following the discovery of new natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

  • On a negative note, the refugee crisis is seen as a potential area of friction between the two countries. While 57% of Turkish elites believe that that Turkey is playing an active role in the resolution of the refugee crisis; only 12% think that Greece is playing an active role.

 

  • A quick assessment of the results from both surveys suggest that the two countries find themselves in the midst of a “Cold Peace” rather than a rapprochement process which has never been properly formalized beyond high level bilateral political contacts and a stated desire for bilateral trade and foreign direct investment to grow.

 



[1] Fort he results of the Turkish elites’ survey, see

For The Results of The Turkish Elites’ Survey