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OBAMA'S POLICIES SPLIT WEST, EAST EUROPEANS

BERLIN - Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, new fissures are emerging between Western and Eastern Europe - this time over President Barack Obama's policy toward Russia, according to an international survey published Wednesday.

The survey, Transatlantic Trends, an annual poll of European and American public opinion conducted for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, found that Europeans, far from speaking with one voice on foreign policy issues, are divided over the role of the United States and how to respond to the growing assertiveness of Russia.

The report also revealed big differences among the East Europeans themselves over their attitudes on the United States and Russia.

During the closing years of the Bush administration, the trans-Atlantic relationship, including European support for the U.S.-led NATO military alliance, had reached a low in opinion polls. Obama has "nearly reversed the collapse in public support for the United States," the report says.

About 77 percent of respondents in the European Union and Turkey supported Obama's handling of international affairs - a quadrupling of support compared with opinions of the Bush administration.

But in Eastern Europe, more than 60 percent of respondents said they were skeptical about Obama's foreign policy, especially regarding Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East. And just over half of the respondents in that part of Europe said they saw the United States in a positive light, compared with 63 percent of West Europeans.

The difference among individual European Union countries is even greater. In France, Obama's popularity is 77 percentage points higher than President George W. Bush's rating. Yet in Romania and Poland, Obama's popularity over Bush is just 14 percentage points and 11 percentage points, respectively. Only 25 percent of Central and East Europeans said they believed that U.S.-European relations had improved under the Obama administration, compared with 43 percent of West Europeans.

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