WASHINGTON — For the last ew years, the indings rom GMF’s
have included a signiicantTurkey story. For the most part, this hasbeen a narrative about growing publicsuspicion toward international part-ners. This core story has not changedsubstantially with the 2008 results. Theindings o
suggestthat Turks remain inward looking, i not xenophobic, and inclined towardunilateralism in oreign aairs. Turk-ish perceptions o global challenges arebroadly in the transatlantic mainstream,but in other respects, Turkey looks lessEuropean and perhaps more Americanin its policy preerences—an ironicresult in light o continued, highly negative views o the United States.The
Key FindingsReport (see www.transatlantictrends.org)summarizes the Turkish story in 2008.Recent conversations in Ankara andIstanbul on the results suggest someintriguing observations and openquestions.
Echoes from a polarized society
This year, or the rst time,
s asked some basic questionsabout religiosity in Turkey, with a viewtoward understanding the implicationson Turkish oreign policy preerences.As it turns out, religiosity does notappear to have a signicant infuenceon perceptions o international actorsand issues. It does, however, make abig dierence in Turks’ perceptions o Turkey. The 18 percent o Turks whosel-identied themselves as “never”praying ve times a day (admittedly arough and ready measure) are muchcooler toward today’s Turkey thantheir more observant counterparts.This will hardly be surprising news toobservers o the Turkish scene. But thending is reinorced in other areas.Turks are, or example, just as inclinedas Europeans to see Turkey as cultur-ally distinctive rom the West, anddistinctive enough to call into questionwhether Turkey ts into the West at all.Discussions with a wide range o o-cial and unocial Turks underscorethe deepening polarization aectingTurkish society. The immediate crisiso the closure case against the rul-ing Justice and Development Party (AKP) may have passed, but Turkey’spost-verdict debate about the utureo the country and its oreign policy choices is now even more pointed andpolarized. Moreover, the debate is only partly about the question o secular-ism in governance and daily lie. Asmany observers have noted, thereare now much sharper divisions andresentments concerning the role o themedia, the private sector, and the statein an economy that still depends heav-
by Dr. Ian O. Lesser
Dr. Ian O. Lesser is a senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). The views expressedhere are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of GMF.
Key Findings Report sum-marizes the Turkish story in 2008.Recent conversations about theresults in Ankara and Istanbulsuggest some intriguing observa- tions and open questions. Thekey divide in the Turkish debate isbetween those who remainattached to the active and“balanced” AKP foreign policyand those who wish to set moredeliberate priorities, looking eastor west. Many in Europe areweighing the Turkish case in lightof past enlargement experience,with a sense that process andmomentum are likely to outweighpublic reservations. As almost half of Turkish respondents favoreda unilateral approach to interna- tional issues, it is worth asking whether Turkish perspectives arenot closer to those most oftenascribed to in Washington.