Monday, March 31, 2008

Turkey & the EU

I was going to write about my trip to Tunisia for AIESEC's MENAXLDS '08 conference, but I was reading an article about Turkish politics on and suddenly felt the urge to discuss my dissatisfaction with the European Union.

I was reading an article about a lawsuit being filed against the AK party (AKP) in the hopes of banning the party. Why? Because secularists feel the AKP has an Islamist agenda and Turkey prides itself as being the only Muslim country where a secular democracy exists. Longstanding has been the notion in Turkey that Islam should have no impact, or affiliation with the secular governing structures put in place by Atatürk in the first half of the 20th century. Since then, any attempt at trying to incorporate Islam into state operations has proved futile since the military has not hesitated in the past to remove threatening parties and leaders by way of putsch. Ensuring Turkey's secular principles is what they call it, but alas, I am not writing to express my opinion on this issue one way or another. What caught my attention in the article was the last line: " The EU has expressed its concern at the case, saying it could jeopardise Turkey's ambitions of membership."

It seems every article I read about Turkey these days, this sentence is always attached at the end. Why is this?? Does the EU now feel that they are like the U.S. and can flout their political girth wherever they see fit? When the EU formed, Turkey was one of the first countries to apply for membership. Guess what? Turkey is one of the few countries still waiting to actually start going through the process of becoming a member, which the process in itself can take 20 years. There is a reason Turkey's membership talks have been suspended time and time again. The EU has no intention of EVER letting Turkey into the EU. It's not hard to see this. Hell, even Turks are fed up with the EU and its elitist bureaucratic bullshit. There are a million excuses the EU likes to give about why Turkish membership has taken so long, but it was an ambassador from Austria to Luxembourg that finally said what everyone knew already: the EU is a union of Christian states and there is no place for a Muslim democracy. This statement, to me, seems absolutely preposterous. I can't even fathom all the potential positive things that would come out of an EU comprised of Turkey. Turkey is in a very strategic position - acting as the gateway from the west to the east. This position should not be taken lightly. While the EU dangles the potential of Turkish EU membership on a string in front of Turkey, Iran seeks to realign Turkey with the Middle East. I cannot comprehend why the EU would not want to ensure Turkey's alignment with the west by having them as a member. Instead, the EU just continues to push Turkey away by saying that if they don't do what they [EU] say, it will hinder their ability to join the EU. What a load of CRAP! The EU has no intention of ever letting Turkey become a member. And guess what? The Turks aren't as incompetent as the EU might think. Most of them see right through this patronizing facade. The EU needs to just shut up before it pushes Turkey even further away and this very strategically-positioned country severs ties with the west.


Anonymous said...

Dear Cathy
you choose to ignore History. And even the most recent events.EU is a union of Democratic countries. Turkey does not qualify! Many military coupes the last 40 years! Even now the movement of the court is to be considered as a coup.

Wake up! Turkey is not a bridge between West and East. Turkey is part of the Muslim Orient with a repulsive face! Read the reports of International Organizations about human rights.

You are right though when you claim that EU will never allow Turkey in. All we care about is a civilized Turkey. We can help Turkish people, in particular women, minorities, homosexuals etc get a better life. But we would never accept to be overwhelmed by a wave of jobless, uneducated, poor muslims looking for a place in our Social Security Services.

Katy said...

Hi Riace,

I'm not choosing to ignore history or even paint the picture that Turkey is the example that all other states should follow because that's just ignorant. My point was to compare Turkey with other predominantly Muslim countries and to show that to these countries, Turkey should be the model. Though it [Turkey] has many, many problems, it is the closest thing to a functioning democracy in the Islamic world. That was perhaps not clear in my first post.

And yes, I am appalled at the human rights record of Turkey, but there are quite a few eastern European countries who have been let into the EU with similar records, not to mention a far weaker economy than what Turkey has seen.

I feel I am able to speak on the social issues of both Turkey and western Europe since I have lived in both for some time and in terms of women rights, I can't say that western Europe is that much further ahead. Maybe in terms of government initiatives to ensure female representation in the work place and in government institutions, but that doesn't change the social mindsets of many European people.

Furthermore, I don't feel that it is our place to "civilize" a population of people. What is to civilize anyway? It's just a way to make someone else more like us. And why would we want to do that? Out of fear; fear of something different. I'm not saying let's not impart the knowledge we have and share with them (when they seek it), but my point with this article was simply to express my dissatisfaction with how the EU treats Turkey (like a small, insolent step-child). More specifically, making threats regarding Turkey's EU membership, which I see we are both in agreement - it will never happen.