Polish-Turkish Relations: A Social-Political Analysis

131 Pages Posted: 25 May 2009 Last revised: 31 Jan 2010

See all articles by Antonina Tausch

Antonina Tausch

University of Vienna - Faculty of Human and Social Sciences

Date Written: 2008


The present work consists of three parts: a historical introduction, a comparison of cultural values and a press analysis. The historical introduction shall help in understanding the relationship of the two countries. The intention of the comparison of cultural values is to get to the bottom of the problems which appear in the debate around the EU accession of the predominantly Muslim Turkey. The press analysis shall show what picture of Turkey is presented in the Polish media. The historical part of the work is primarily based on works by Danuta Chmielowska, Jerzy P. Łątka, Dariusz Kołodziejczyk, and Beata Nitecka-Jagiełło. Initially, the start of historic relations between the two countries is examined: these were begun in 1414 with a Polish mission to the Ottoman Empire. After that the relationship varies between war (the reason for these conflicts are often territorial issues concerning areas in the Black Sea region) and collaboration (the two countries often cooperate against the Habsburgs and the emerging Grand Duchy of Muscovy). The Ottoman Empire ex-presses special loyalty to the Polish people during the time of the Partitions of Poland: it is the only country in the world that does not accept the Partitions. Many emigrants seek asylum in the kingdom. A lot of them permanently settle in Turkey; even a Polish village, Adampol, is founded by Adam Czartoryski. The Ottoman Empire fights on the side of the Central Powers during the First World War and ultimately it belongs to the great losers of the war. Poland regains its status as a sovereign state after 1914. The radical changes that result in the emergence of the secular Republic of Turkey are welcomed in Poland and, subsequently, the two states re-establish diplomatic relations. Between the two statesmen of that time, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Józef Piłsudski, there are very many parallels. Turkey is neutral during the Second World War and recognizes the Polish government in its French exile. The Turks allow the transit of troops and state assets to the Poles. After World War II the two states belong to different blocs, which greatly disturbs the relationship; the time of the Cold War is characterized by a very distant relationship. Only in the 1970s, in the course of improving relations between the USSR and Turkey, a convergence of Poland and Turkey is to be noticed. The comparison of cultural values is based on Hofstede's cultural parameters and the World Values Survey data, which can be regarded as a standard in sociology. The question here is to what degree differences and similarities of those two cultures exist, particularly in view of a Turkish EU accession. Hofstede's data show that Turkey is a lot less individualistic, less masculine and the Uncertainty Avoidance Index is not as high as in Poland. The Power Distance Index is comparable in both countries. According to the World Values Survey there are very many harmonizing fields: family, religion, moral values, confidence in compatriots. As a result of the comparison of the cultures it is to be noticed that the two cultures do not diverge strongly from each other. There are several aspects that are different, but it cannot be said that a culture is more 'advanced' than the other one. There are fields in which the Poles are more 'tolerant' (upbringing of children, the role of women, social problem groups such as drug addicts or prostitutes, higher Individualism) - but in certain fields Turkey is more 'modern' (environmental protection, nationalism, democracy, low Masculinity, low Uncertainty Avoidance). An incompatibility of the 'Muslim' culture with the one of 'Christian Europe' could not be found. The press analysis forms the main part of the work. Three years reporting of Poland´s largest Newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza has been examined for this purpose. The basis of the analysis have been all articles of the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 that included the word Turcja [Turkey] either in the title or the subtitle. The contents of these three years are analyzed with qualitative and quantitative methods, which Diekmann de-scribes in his book: Empirische Sozialforschung [Empirical Social Studies]. Concerning the facts upon which the analysis is based: Hofstede analyzed a large data base of employee value scores collected by IBM covering more than 70 countries. From the initial results, and later additions, Hofstede developed a model that identifies four dimensions to assist in differentiating cultures: Power Distance, Individualism, Masculinity and Uncertainty Avoidance (a fifth dimension, Long-Term Orientation, was added subsequently). The World Values Survey is the most comprehensive and detailed study of human values ever undertaken. Since the start of the project in 1981 it has been completed in 80 countries. The survey covers the following areas: Perception of life, Environment, Work, Family, Politics and Society, Religion and Moral, National Identity and Socio-demographics. One of the objectives of the project is the long-term measurement of value fluctuations in the global context. For this purpose, the survey was repeated at various intervals. With each wave at least 1,000 people have been surveyed representatively in every country. To this purpose, the 61 articles are summarized, categorized and searched for signal words. The articles are also examined to determine whether their content can be seen as positive, negative or neutral. The results of the analysis are also presented graphically. The result is that the relationship between the two countries is relatively ambiguous: On the one hand Turkey is regarded as a historical enemy with its mostly Muslim population; on the other hand the long, peaceful coexistence of the two countries is remembered. The historical background seems to play an important role in today's relationship. The perspective of Turkey’s membership to the EU is seen in an ambivalent way. Turkey is regarded as a possible strong partner concerning important issues, but Poland fears a weakening of the EU by a membership of relatively poor Turkey. The way Turkey is presented as a country differs a lot, too. It is shown as an underdeveloped country with a difficult economic situation and a lot of problems concerning the human rights' situation. At the same time, Turkey is also described as a modern state with dynamic reforms taking place and with a key-position in world politics. The results of the quantitative analysis are: the focus of the reporting lies on Foreign Policy. Domestic Policy and Miscellaneous are less important. The articles concerning Foreign Policy are focused on the course of EU accession negotiations, the arguments for and against a Turkish accession to the EU, and the Armenian issue. Within the Domestic Policy the most important sub-categories are terrorism, liberalizing reforms, anti-secular reforms and energy policy. The most frequent signal words are: Unia - Union, Europa - Europe, Cypr - Cypres, Kurdowie - Kurds, islamski - Islamic and zamach - attack. The result of the articles´ evaluation is that 2004 is estimated as positive (average of 0.08), 2005 as negative, and 2006 also as negative (average of -0.27). On the whole, it can be said that Poland views Turkey in a relatively positive way; despite many critical voices the country seems to be to seeking a consensus.

Note: Downloadable document is in German.

Keywords: relation of economics to social values, religion, economic history, economic integration

JEL Classification: A13, Z12, N, F15

Suggested Citation

Tausch, Antonina, Polish-Turkish Relations: A Social-Political Analysis (2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1409629 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1409629

Antonina Tausch (Contact Author)

University of Vienna - Faculty of Human and Social Sciences ( email )

Vienna, 1010

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