China and Russia posed less of a threat to Europeans than Turkey: ECFR survey

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MUNICH, GERMANY - JULY 11: Members of the Turkish community stand in front of the Oberlandesgericht courthouse with a large Turkish flag after judges announced their verdict in the marathon NSU neo-Nazi murder trial on July 11, 2018 in Munich, Germany. Main defendant Beate Zschaepe and four co-defendants are charged in their roles in supporting neo-Nazis Uwe Boenhardt and Uwe Mundlos, who embarked on a murder spree of nine immigrants and one policewoman between 2000 and 2007. The case is amongst the most embarrassing and scandalous in modern German police history, as investigators failed to connect the murders within a neo-Nazi context until both men died following a botched bank robbery in 2011. The trial is into its sixth year and has consumed over 430 trial days. (Photo by Andreas Gebert/Getty Images)

A recent survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), an international think tank that conducts cutting-edge independent research on European foreign and security policy, has shown that 26 percent of Europeans see Turkey as an adversary –- a country they are in conflict with.

The public opinion poll titled “Crisis of confidence: How Europeans see their place in the world” was conducted in 12 EU countries – Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Bulgaria – online and through telephone interviews with 17,231 participants in April 2021.

The survey revealed that Turkey is the only country that more Europeans see as an “adversary” than a “necessary partner,” since only 25 percent see the country as one they “must strategically cooperate with.”

While 15 percent see Turkey as a “rival,” a country with which they need to compete, only 4 percent of Europeans think of Turkey as an “ally” with shared values and interests, according to the survey.

“Given that Turkey is a NATO member – unlike China, Russia, India, and Japan, all of which Europeans consider less threatening – this finding is quite worrying,” ECFR said.

The number of Europeans who consider Turkey an adversary climbs as high as 40 percent in Sweden, 41 percent in Germany, 42 percent in Denmark and 45 percent in the Netherlands, from which countries 1,015, 3,080, 1,012 and 1,008 people participated in the opinion poll, respectively.

When asked if the EU should criticize violations of human rights and the rule of law in China and Turkey or should refrain from doing so to prioritize trade and security in these relationships, a plurality in 10 countries – except Hungary and Bulgaria – responded that the EU should criticize violations when they occur, ECFR stated.

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