Turkey’s citizens view Russia, not Israel, as biggest threat

Russia, not Israel, is now the greatest perceived threat among Turkish citizens, according to findings from a global think tank’s newly released survey.

By JNS.org and World Israel News Staff

Istanbul-based Kadir Has University conducted a “Turkey Social Trends” survey in 26 cities through face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adult participants on Dec. 9-17, 2015, concluding  that Russia has overtaken Israel as the greatest perceived threat among Turkish citizens.

“Although Israel had been at the top of the list of countries thought to ‘pose the biggest threat to Turkey’ since 2011, this year the Russian Federation replaced Israel on [the top of] this list. The percentages of those who consider the Unites States, Syria, and Israel to pose a threat to Turkey have fallen in 2015,” Kadir Has University said in a statement, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.

This shift in public opinion may have been influenced by Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syria border last November, an incident in which a Russian pilot was killed. Turkey said the plane violated its airspace, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “stab in the back” and imposed retaliatory economic sanctions on Turkey.

Though Turkey and Israel have had a tense relationship since the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a history of hostility toward the Jewish state, the two countries have recently been nearing a normalization of diplomatic relations. Most recently, Erdogan acknowledged that his country “needs Israel” and encouraged a warming of relations.