Majority of poll respondents say Turkey the biggest foreign threat for Greece

30 April 2018
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A majority of Greek respondents in a recent opinion poll conducted by the firm Public Issue consider that the most significant problem faced by Greece in its often prickly relations with neighboring Turkey is a dispute, on the part of the latter, of the country’s national sovereignty.

Specifically, 74 percent of respondents identified this aspect as the most pressing problem, with 16 percent saying the biggest problem is Turkey’s “aggressiveness and intransigence”.

This year’s Public Issue poll gauging Greek public opinion on various foreign policy issues comes amid a spike in tension and the very fluid developments throughout the wider region, stretching from the Middle East to the Balkans.

In terms of results, 81 percent of respondents believe that relations with Turkey worsened over the last year. A majority, 54 percent, said they believe the government’s handling of Greek-Turkish relations was “probably wrong”; 37 percent answered “probably correct”. Similar percentages accompanied a question on the political opposition, with 56 percent of respondents saying its criticism of the government was “probably wrong”; 32 percent answered “probably correct”.

Additionally, 70 percent of respondents said Athens should proceed with discussions and negotiations with Turkey; 44 percent said they consider the possibility of an armed conflict with Turkey possible over the next few years; 52 percent of respondents, however, said they consider such a prospect unlikely.

The Aegean is considered the most likely area where a “hot incident” will occur, 65 percent of respondents said so; only 7 percent picked the border Thrace region and 17 percent Cyprus.

Interestingly, 42 percent of respondents said the country’s position was weaker than in relation to last year; 40 percent said it was the same.

As expected from the aforementioned results, a very large majority of respondents, 87 percent, believe that Greece faces its biggest foreign policy obstacle with Turkey, with 79 percent saying Turkey is a threat for the country; 17 percent of respondents said no country is a threat to Greece, and 13 percent pointed to Albania.

Another long-standing view also re-emerged clearly from the opinion poll results, namely, public sentiment regarding the NATO, as 62 percent have a negative opinion of the alliance; 49 percent of respondents believe Greece has not benefitted from its participation in NATO; 38 percent believe it has benefitted.

Finally, 80 percent of respondents replied that they “probably trust” the Greek military; 17 percent answered in the opposite.

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