Survey: Turkey’s citizens view Russia, not Israel, as biggest threat

Despite friendly ties between Turkey and Russia in the past, the current relationship between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) is frosty. Credit: The Kremlin via Wikimedia Commons.

( Russia has overtaken Israel as the greatest perceived threat among Turkish citizens, according to findings from the Global think tank's newly released "Turkey Social Trends" survey.

Istanbul-based Kadir Has University conducted the survey in 26 Turkish cities through face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adult participants from Dec. 9-17, 2015.

“Although Israel had been at the top of the list of countries thought to ‘pose the biggest threat to Turkey’ since 2011, this year the Russian Federation replaced Israel on [the top of] this list. The percentages of those who consider the Unites States, Syria, and Israel to pose a threat to Turkey have fallen in 2015,” Kadir Has University said in a statement, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported.

This shift in public opinion may have been influenced by Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane near the Turkey-Syria border last November, an incident in which a Russian pilot was killed. Turkey said the plane violated its airspace, while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a "stab in the back” and imposed retaliatory economic sanctions on Turkey.

Though Turkey and Israel have had a tense relationship since the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a history of hostility toward the Jewish state, the two countries have recently been nearing a normalization of diplomatic relations.

Posted on January 14, 2016 .