Even as Turkey’s government refuses to cooperate with the U.S. against ISIS, Turkish citizens’ desire to engage more closely with the West is growing. Al-Monitor reports:
The Turkish people’s support for European Union membership and approval of NATO have risen remarkably over the past year, according to the Transatlantic Trends survey of the Washington-based German Marshall Fund on Sept. 10.The survey, conducted in Turkey, the United States, Russia and 10 EU countries in June, found that 49% of Turks believe “NATO is still essential to our country’s security” — a 10-point increase from 39% a year ago. Similarly, the proportion of Turks who believe “EU membership would be good for Turkey” increased by eight points over the past year, climbing to 53% from 45% in 2013.
As we wrote recently, Erdogan embraced an ideology best thought of as neo-Ottoman, undoing the modernizations of Atatürk and turning his country to face the Islamic East instead of the secular West. That ideology led him to favor the rebels in Syria’s civil war and ignore the traffic of anti-Assad militants, ISIS included, across Turkish borders. However, Turkey has been burned by this policy—ISIS is still holding 49 Turks hostage, having kidnapped them from Mosul in June, and the wars next door threaten the country’s security.Though Turkey may be seeing a revival of pro-Western sentiments, Erdogan now holds enormous power as the country’s President. He’s unlikely to give up his neo-Ottoman ambitions, as three Turkish scholars recently wrote on our site. However, the shift in public opinion is a favorable sign for those who hope Turkey will turn back to the West.