Turks see Germany as the most reliable partner: Survey

Turks see Germany as the most reliable partner: Survey
People wear protective face masks against to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kizilay Square, in Ankara on June 24, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 08 June 2021

Turks see Germany as the most reliable partner: Survey

Turks see Germany as the most reliable partner: Survey
  • “Germany and Turkey are connected by millions of personal and cultural ties that have formed with the generation of Turkish immigrants and their descendants,” Walter Glos, KAS director in Turkey, told Arab News

ANKARA: Turks are very concerned about the state of their democracy, according to a new survey released on Monday, with 63 percent of respondents saying they thought it was bad and 39 percent saying it was in danger.
The findings are part of the Transatlantic Trends 2021 survey, by the German Marshall Fund of the US (GMF) and sponsored by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Turkey, with the results revealing Turks’ opinions about security challenges, transatlantic cooperation and domestic politics.
It comes ahead of a critical meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Joe Biden on June 14 during the NATO Summit in Brussels.
The Biden administration, which inherited an unsteady bilateral relationship, is expected to mostly focus on Turkey’s democratic record.
According to the survey, Turks thought the most important security challenges facing their country were pandemics, terrorism and migration. A third of respondents wanted a decrease in Turkey’s military involvement in the Middle East.
The survey also said that 40 percent considered Germany the most influential actor in Europe, followed by the UK at 25 percent. Respondents said global health (22 percent), trade (15 percent), and human rights (15 percent) were the priorities for transatlantic cooperation.
“Germany and Turkey are connected by millions of personal and cultural ties that have formed with the generation of Turkish immigrants and their descendants,” Walter Glos, KAS director in Turkey, told Arab News. “Also, Germany is still Turkey’s largest trading partner and foreign investor. Both countries have a fundamental interest in good, close relations based on shared convictions and values.”
Half of respondents saw Chinese influence in global affairs as generally negative, and China was also seen as a rival rather than a partner.
Almost half expected their government to be tougher with China concerning its human rights violations.

While public opinion is not the main driver of foreign policy, it is still consequential and increasingly so given the influence of social media on politics.

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli

Despite Turkey’s recent charm offensive toward Europe, the country was perceived as the least trustworthy partner by people of other nationalities participating in the survey. Turks were found to be the most skeptical respondents about the reliability of the other countries.
“While public opinion is not the main driver of foreign policy, it is still consequential and increasingly so given the influence of social media on politics,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the GMF, told Arab News.
“Cooperation becomes politically costly when there is lack of public support. While there are cultural and historical reasons for this mutual distrust, rising Islamophobia in the West and nationalism in Turkey, recent tensions between Turkey and its Western allies and public discourses of politicians also play important roles in this outcome.” But he said there was no shortcut to rebuilding trust.
“While responsible political leadership on both sides can reverse the situation in the longer term, public support will not be one of the strong aspects of Turkey’s cooperation with Western allies in the foreseeable future.”
More than a third of Turkish respondents believed that NATO played an important role in the security of their country and most (66 percent) supported closer economic ties between Washington, DC and Ankara.
Half of the respondents found Germany, Sweden and Canada as the most reliable partners, while only 23 percent of Turks saw the US as trustworthy.
Glos said that, despite the increase in tensions in the bilateral relationship in recent years, Germany remained the most important point of reference for Turkey in the EU and was seen as the most reliable partner.
“The EU-Turkey migration agreement would not have come about without the mediation of the German government. Likewise, Turkey is open to mediation efforts by the German government in the dispute in the Aegean with Greece,” he added. “This allows Germany to keep the channels of communication with Turkey open and to demand concessions without having to make concrete offers of cooperation on the part of the EU. Credit has to be given to Chancellor Merkel’s sound problem-oriented diplomacy.”
Germany ranks first in Turkey’s exports at $16 billion and second in imports at almost $22 billion. Nearly 7,000 German firms are active in Turkey.
Glos thought that, despite all odds, Germany was able to criticize Turkey in a constructive way while simultaneously recognizing that Turkey had legitimate interests and must bear particular burdens as a result of the crises and conflicts in the region.
“At the same time, Germany expects the political leadership in Turkey, but also civil society and institutions, to stick to the social, economic and security policy course that is aligned with the values, interests and consultation mechanisms of NATO, the Council of Europe and the EU acquis to which Turkey has been committed for decades,” he said.


Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
Updated 2 min 54 sec ago

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough

Biden, Erdogan upbeat about ties but disclose no breakthrough
BRUSSELS: US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan sounded upbeat after their first face-to-face talks on Monday, although they did not announce major breakthroughs in the relationship between the two allies, at odds over Russian weapons, Syria, Libya and other issues.
“We had a positive and productive meeting, much of it one-on-one,” Biden told a news conference after their meeting in Brussels.
“Our teams are going to continue our discussions and I’m confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey and the United States,” he added.
Erdogan characterised his talks with Biden on the sidelines of a NATO summit as “productive and sincere.”
“We think that there are no issues between US and Turkey relationship that are unsolvable and that areas of cooperation for us are richer and larger than problems,” he said.
Despite their publicly optimistic tone, neither provided any details on how exactly they would mend the relationship or lay out steps that would help ease tensions between the NATO allies.
Turkey, with NATO’s second-largest military, has angered its allies in the Western military alliance by buying Russian surface-to-air missiles and intervening in wars in Syria and Libya. It is also in a standoff with Greece and Cyprus over territory in the Eastern Mediterranean.
As president, Biden has adopted a cooler tone than predecessor Donald Trump toward Erdogan. Biden quickly recognized the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide — a position that angers Turkey — and stepped up criticism of Turkey’s human rights record.
Washington has already removed Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles.
One area where Erdogan hoped to showcase a central Turkish role in NATO is Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered to guard and operate Kabul airport after US and NATO forces withdraw in coming weeks. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Turkey would play a key role but that no decision was made at the Monday summit.
At the start of the main leaders’ session at NATO, Biden spoke to Erdogan at length in a small group before they took their seats.
Later in the day, the two leaders and their top aides sat mostly silently on opposite sides of a conference table, ignoring questions shouted to them by journalists briefly invited into the room.
Erdogan also met French President Emmanuel Macron. Ankara and Paris have been at odds over Syria, Libya and Turkish criticism of the fight against what Macron calls Islamist separatism, among other issues.
“President Erdogan confirmed during our meeting his wish that the foreign mercenaries, the foreign militias, operating on Libyan soil leave as soon as possible,” Macron told a news conference afterwards.

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib
Updated 20 min 18 sec ago

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

COVID-19 vaccines distributed at makeshift camp in Syria's Idlib

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
Updated 13 min 18 sec ago

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government

Bahrain and UAE congratulate newly formed Israeli government
  • Bahrain's crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister
  • UAE’s foreign minister congratulated Israeli foreign minister on his new position

CAIRO: Bahrain’s crown prince sent a congratulatory telegraph to new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The crown prince expressed his sincere wishes to the formed government for success in its tasks “in a way that strengthen the pillars of development, stability, and peace in the region and the world,” Bahrain state news agency (BNA) said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed discussed in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart “the bilateral cooperation between the two countries in addition to the Abraham Accords,” the minister’s office tweeted on Monday.
Bin Zayed congratulated the Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, on his new position and wished him success, the tweet said.


Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel
Updated 33 min 36 sec ago

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Gaza children fly kites with portraits of kids killed in last conflict with Israel

Palestinian children fly kites on a beach of Gaza City carrying the portraits of the 66 children killed in the Palestinian enclave by Israeli airstrikes during the last conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas.


Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
Updated 14 June 2021

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public

Lebanese woman assaulted by bodyguards after shaming lawmaker Gebran Bassil in public
  • Video showing brawl between Bassil’s entourage & young woman goes viral on social media, triggers waves of criticism
  • Bassil’s media office denied beating incident and said ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’

BEIRUT: A video of a brawl between a Lebanese woman and Head of Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil’s bodyguards after she publicly told him ‘shame on you’ went viral on Sunday.

The woman was having lunch with friends in a newly-opened restaurant at Al Batroun, the birthplace of Bassil, Lebanese President’s son-in-law and a strong political ally of Iran-backed party Hezbollah, when the altercation happened.

Once the woman, identified by media as Yasmine Al-Masri, saw Bassil at the restaurant she yelled at him saying the Arabic for “shame on you.”

She is believed to have been provoked by his audacity showing up in public as if he is not one of the major instigators and those responsible for the country’s political deadlock, economic collapse and corruption.

It was reported in different media outlets that Bassil’s entourage instantly rushed toward Al-Masri, whacked her brutally and pinned her down to the floor. Meanwhile as the bodyguards were violently silencing and preventing her from shouting, Bassil made his way hurriedly to his car.

Arab News contacted the restaurant where the incident happened.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by thawramap (@thawramap)

“The incident happened around lunchtime. She yelled at lawmaker Bassil and told him what means ‘shame on you’ for what you’ve been doing to the people… she reacted like any other independent citizen would do as to how dare he provocatively show his face in public,” a waiter told Arab News. He declined to give his name due to the sensitivity of the issue and fear of losing his job.

In the video that Al-Masri recorded using her mobile phone, the footage showed the entourage escorting Bassil to his waiting car while her voice could be heard heatedly arguing with one of the bodyguards who walked toward her and battered her hand. The video footage was clearly flipped upside down after Al-Masri was attacked by the bodyguard and her phone got broken.

Revealing what happened, Al-Masri told MTV channel she yelled at Bassil once he entered the restaurant by telling him ‘tfeh 3lek’ [shame on you] maintaining that it is not a curse. “That is the least I could tell him. His bodyguard told me to keep my mouth shut and assaulted me. I stood up after I fell down due to the assault, grabbed my phone and followed the entourage wanting to film what they did,” she told the MTV stressing that her friend called others for help because she was brutally attacked.

Towards Sunday afternoon the video showing the incident snowballed on social media especially Twitter and Instagram.

Bassil’s media office claimed that he and his family were about to ride their car when a woman used foul language against him.

His entourage responded ‘naturally, peacefully and modernly’ to stop her from cursing, according to the media statement that confirmed the woman wasn’t beaten.

Bassil told Free Patriotic Movement supporters and members that ‘the era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over’ and to respond accordingly.

In response to that, popular TV host Ghada Eid tweeted saying ‘the era of leaving corruption unfought is over’.

Following the incident, a hashtag with Al-Masri’s phrase [tfeh 3lek] became trending in Lebanon.

A twitter user called Hassan said ‘This is the best trending topic in Lebanon this year so far’

Mariana tweeted ‘By showing violent behavior, bullies try to hide their own weakness.’

Another used tweeted about Bassil saying ‘Small Man with a Giant Ego’.

Samer Al Khoury tweeted ‘so lovely how you [Bassil] always trend when it’s an insult or corruption what a disgrace you are’.

International Lebanese artist Elissa said on twitter ‘every hand that beats a woman should be broken’.