Saturday, January 08, 2005

Turkey and the EU

Turkey is set to begin talks to become a member of the EU. This is an easy issue on which to have an opinion if you’re an outsider like me, but it has been very interesting to see what the involved parties have to say.

Needless to say, I have little sympathy for those who argue that the reason Turkey should not be admitted into the EU is that there is a fundamental cultural difference. Herve Morin of France, a member of Parliament from the Union for French Democracy party, said to the Washington Post “The integration of Turkey is the breakdown of the European project…We don't have a common history, culture or vision. The European identity is built on a common history, a Judeo-Christian culture, a culture of human rights and the enlightenment ideas."

This argument has been rightly compared to the old saying that “Africa begins at the Pyrenees.”

Along this line of thought, this Sunday Telegraph opinion piece is very reminiscent of Samuel Huntington’s senile delusions. Turkish citizens are not showing signs of wanting to integrate into the prevailing culture, it argues. “Young Swedes and Germans of Turkish extraction usually marry back into their ancestral homelands, bringing their brides home to Europe to reinforce the creation of an Anatolia in exile.” This reluctance threatens to heighten divisive, nationalist, and racist politics, which could throw Europe into cultural and political chaos, not to mention violence. For good measure, the author throws in that Turkey cannot be a successful democracy. If the military steps back from power, as is demanded by the EU, Turkey might become a fundamentalist state. If that doesn’t do it, then the author considers that “some deranged Euro-fantasists in Brussels see Ankara's armed forces not as the shield of Turkish secularism, but as potentially the main military arm of an EU superstate. This is not just drivel; it is extremely dangerous drivel.” Hmmm… no comment.

Perhaps the most appealing opinion I’ve seen on the subject was posted on A Fistful of Euros. They remind those who argue that Turkey is not culturally fit to join that:
if admitted, Turkey will not be the first EU member state that once despised the liberal market economy, failed spectacularly to honour human rights, persecuted its minorities and was separated from other European nations (at least, those it hadn’t conquered) by a deep cultural chasm. Indeed, Turkey would be far from the worst example of such countries, at least one of which was found fit for membership not very long after the persecutions etc. were stopped (and, unlike in Turkey’s case, stopped by outsiders).


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