Turks still support Western values despite U.S.-bashing

Turkish society is largely supportive of Western values and the United States’ own hubris is allowing local leaders to depict it as an enemy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States said in a report.

“Contrary to the general perception, Turkish society is actually not drifting away from the Western values and is, on the contrary, concerned about the course of fundamental values of the Turkish Republic with a strong quest for preservation of secularism,” it said.

However, “about the low favourability ratings of the United States, and anti-Western attitudes, there is a need for action,” the report said.

Nearly 79 percent of Turkish citizens now want the country to become a member of the European Union, a record high, the report said.

“More striking is the fact that in the same poll, 34.5 percent stated the reason behind their support as an expectation for enhanced democracy and human rights in the country,” it said.

Secularism was also coming back into vogue, with the ruling party choosing to adopt a more positive position towards the country’s staunchly secularist founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in response to shifts in national feeling.

However, the U.S. government was leaving the characterisation of the United States to its enemies, the report said.

“The U.S. State Department and government officials are disinterested in their counterparts’ use of anti-American rhetoric for its domestic audience unless a problem emerges in running day-to-day business,” it said.

“There are no allocated resources to general public outreach or efforts to connect and communicate with common people in Turkey.”

The Turkish public is more concerned about U.S. sponsorship of the sister-groups of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting Turkey for more than 30 years.

“Without effective communication to the Turkish public, this antagonism will not go away,” the report said.

“U.S. officials and their Turkish counterparts should work together to provide unbiased information about the issues of convergence and divergence in bilateral relations.”