A survey in Turkey shows that more than half of its citizens believe that their government uses tensions with Greece for an “election agenda”.
According to the poll conducted by MetroPoll and published on Wednesday, 51.1% of respondents believed that the worsening relations between Ankara and Athens were related to the fact that Turkey is to hold its presidential and parliamentary elections no later than June 2023.
Those who did not take that view amounted to 26.2%, 18.6% answered “I am not aware [of the issue]” and 3.7% declined to respond.
Also, 36.2% of the respondents who said they backed the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarded the issue as part of the “election agenda”.
Survey shows Turkish citizens disagree that there is enmity with Greece
In contrast, the figure was 37.9% for respondents who intended to vote for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the junior partner in the ruling coalition that has a parliamentary majority.
An even greater majority of respondents (64%) disagreed that there is “enmity between the Turkish and Greek peoples.”
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu lately remarked that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis were “populists who play the war card as their votes are declining.”
Turkey says Greece would pay a heavy price
Last week, Greece warned Western capitals that Erdogan could ignite a second European war in the Aegean, following Erdogan’s threats against Greece.
Erdogan has recently said that Greece would pay a “heavy price” if it continued to “harass” Turkish planes over the Aegean.
He also accused Greece of “occupying” the Aegean islands. “We have only one word to tell Greece: Do not forget Izmir (Smyrna in Greek),” Erdogan said, referring to the Asia Minor disaster.
“Your occupation of the islands does not bind us,” Erdogan said.
Earlier this week during his visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia he stressed that he is not bluffing. “What I’m talking about is not a dream…If what I said was that we could come one night all of a sudden [it means] that, when the time comes, we can come suddenly one night.”
The fraught relationship between Erdogan and Mitsotakis got so bad in May that the Turkish leader said that to him the Greek PM “no longer exists”.
Asked last week by The Associated Press if he believed war could break out between Turkey and Greece over issues including sovereignty over various Aegean islands, Mitsotakis replied negatively, saying:
“I don’t believe this will ever happen. And if, God forbid, it happened, Turkey would receive an absolutely devastating response. And I think they know it very well. Turkey knows the competence of the Greek [armed] forces.”