European support for Obama foreign policy soars

11th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The poll revealed a distinct divide between western and eastern European attitudes, with westerners generally feeling much more positive about America.

Washington -- European support for American foreign policy has quadrupled since President Barack Obama succeeded George W. Bush, even if transatlantic views differ on Afghanistan and Iran, a poll revealed Wednesday.

In the most dramatic surge, 92 percent of German respondents this year support Obama's handling of international relations, compared to only 12 percent last year, according to the annual survey.

Overall, the poll shows that 77 percent of those surveyed in the European Union and Turkey support Obama’s handling of international affairs compared to just 19 percent who backed Bush’s foreign policy in 2008.

The poll released by the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States showed that support for US foreign policy jumped 80 percentage points in Germany, 77 percent in France, 70 percent in Portugal and 64 percent in Italy.

In Turkey, only 50 percent support Obama, but it represents a massive 42-percent jump over the eight percent there who supported Bush in 2008, according to the Transatlantic Trends 2009 poll.

In a sign of geographic differences, the survey showed that some 86 percent support his policies in western Europe, compared to only 60 percent in central and eastern Europe.

In 2009, fewer people in central and eastern Europe (53 percent) than in western Europe (63 percent) view the United States positively.

In 2008, the reverse was true as more people in central and eastern Europe (44 percent) than in western Europe (40 percent) held a positive view.

Similarly, it said, "people in central and eastern Europe (25 percent) are far less likely than west Europeans (43 percent) to believe that relations between the United States and Europe have improved over the past year."

Fewer central and east Europeans (53 percent) than west Europeans (63 percent) believe that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) "is essential," it said.

"But more central and east Europeans (45 percent) than west Europeans (39 percent) believe that the partnership in security, diplomatic, and economic affairs between the United States and the European Union should become closer," it added.

Such figures suggest "a desire for better ties with Washington even as the region remains relatively cool to the new American president," it said.

However, the survey found that European support for the NATO military mission in Afghanistan is waning.

Sixty-three percent of Europeans are "pessimistic about stabilizing" the country, while 56 percent of Americans are optimistic. Unlike Americans, Europeans want to see the number of their troops reduced or totally withdrawn.

However, people in 10 of the 12 European countries surveyed did not hesitate to support Obama's request for a larger European role in economic reconstruction.

Europeans and Americans split on what to do about Iran if international efforts fail to stop Iran's suspected quest for nuclear weapons.

Some 53 percent in the European Union "would increase diplomatic pressure on Iran, but rule out the use of military force," while 47 percent of Americans "favour increasing diplomatic pressure on Iran" while not ruling out military force.

The survey was carried out in Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Turkey as well as the United States.


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