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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Falling In and Out Of Love

Listening to the European Commission today, it seems that it has given a cautious green light to Turkey for opening talks on the admission of the country into the EU.

I would say to both sides: please hold on the applause/judgment day scenarios. And don't start kissing just yet, they haven't even put the marriage bans up. Although most critics would argue about which place to use for the convention.

Turkey's EU Challenge
Being the first to agree that Turkey's accession into the EU is rife with problems and pitfalls, I am in favour of a gradual entrance seeing a period spanning 20/30 years (if it had to happen at all), with strict monitoring all the way through. This would be enforced by all parties to the negotiation understanding that setback(s) could lead to a suspension of talks and even halt eventual membership.

I say this even though other countries ready to enter by 2007 have a worse profile in certain areas than Turkey.

So, why do I think this? Why do I think that Turkey should be judged on a different standard and against more stringent criteria than other prospective members? Even though the Social Democrats of the United Kingdom have asked for Turkey to be treated fairly and like any other waiting entrant, and even though the Commission's report expresses that Turkey has done most or all that has been asked of it, why am I implying that it is okay for Europe to have double standards?

Simply put, because I want Turkey to be examined on a higher standard. Other countries' affairs in this repsect do not interest me. People should put their own home in order first. In the long run it will be to Turkey's benefit to be better than other countries, forcing it to achieve bigger and better things.

Let's accept it. Like women and racial minorities in societies, Turkey will be treated as a minority country within the European club of the EU. So, let government organs work their asses off. Let Turkey put its nose to the grind and put its critics to shame.

Also like women in the workplace and sections of humanity who are still forcibly categorised by colour and creed and need to be ten times better to achieve anything on an international scale, let this be true for Turkey, too.

Turkey will be all the better for it.

The only pity will be that historians may say that it took the incentive of Europe for Turkey to change. But the glory will be that maybe in a struggle to accept Turkey, the true Nazi base of Europe (which was the real cause of the Second World War) will have to change, too. In this respect, Turkey may actually help rather than detract the EU to realise the goal it was created for, to stop war.

EU's Turkish Challenge
For Turkey's entry to be made possible, the EU has to change. But why does this necessarily have to mean a change for the worst? Having to streamline itself and to rethink its own doctrines must be good for any organisation. Turkey's entrance may say a lot more about Europe and Europeans than people might suspect.

Most of the contentions made in regard to Turkey I agree with completely, including poverty, human rights issues and the large size of the country regarding land mass and population. My own point of contention for some of the conservative hardliners would be that I just wish they would have kept in mind that it is not Turkey in 2004 that will be entering the EU. It will be a much changed Turkey, in many years to come.

There is also the big issue of the European Constitution which is directly connected with Turkey's entrance into the EU. People in Europe are treating these subjects as exclusive to one another. But that is wrong. To make sure that Turkey will be a unifying factor and not a dividing one means that any constitution must be written with the Turkish entry in mind.

At the conference today I was, however, very happy to hear an Catholic Irish MEP distance himself from such extreme right-wing views and even criticised such intolerance being labelled as White Christianity.

Yet, particular criticisms aimed at Turkey from the extreme right-wing in Europe have irritated me, due to its lack of common sense and abundance in stupidity.

Those people that talk about Turkey being so foreign in culture and religion that it could not possibly become a part of Europe and it could never be European within its psyche, but that it always had an "eye" on Europe, should read some history.

Turkey was once part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, with some of Eastern Europe, Greece and the Balkans under its control (depending on the area) for around 500 years. Subsequently, people who visit Greece, the Balkan countries and Turkey always comment on similarities in music, food and culture. In addition, I advise you take a quick trip to Sicilly. The people share a deep affinity and similarity with Turks.

Greece, along with these countries recently entered or on the verge of entering Europe are not viewed in this way - so where is this huge divide?

People using the excuse of religion I have three things to say:

  • The three largest monothestic religions are actually more similar than you think. Do some religious research. Even though they are a sect in some ways, check out the Mormons of Utah which is indicative of similarities.
  • I thought that the criterion and ideals that Europe is based on is universal? Where does it say that a country with a predominantly Islamic population is unable to follow these norms?
  • The land mass where Turkey is today has been a country used as a link between East and West for centuries, and today is a land of Muslim faith with a country that does not rely on religion to determine the course of government. Simply put for the people in Europe, it is secular.

So, as a cause of or despite of the above, Turkey's journey to the country club is a long walk. I wouldn't start clapping or cursing. If I were you, I'd just start walking.

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