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Turkey: Thanks Sarko.

by Colman Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 02:33:09 PM EST

It's occurred to me a couple of times recently to write a review of how Turkey's current problems stem, predictably, from the way the EU, driven by the xenophobic and Islamophobic concerns of the Christian Right. The excellent New European has done a story that saves me the trouble.

A senior Turkish diplomat told me: “Sarkozy started saying that even if Cyprus was solved, even if we met all the membership criteria, Turkey should not join the EU as it was not a true European country. He opposed the opening of many negotiating chapters. What with the Greek vetoes, that was it, really. We were so motivated to reform, but the wind was completely taken out of our sails… It was so counterproductive…”

Turks’ worst fears appeared to be confirmed – the 80% public support for EU membership has slid down to less than
half that. The EU was, after all, a Christian club, went the consensus, and doesn’t
want us. Well, in that case, Brussels can go hang.

“I would go as far as saying that if Europeans had not behaved like that, Turkey would not be in the situation we find it in today,” the Turkish diplomat continued. A man with extensive experience in Turkey’s EU adventure, he pointed out that had Greece not prevented Turkey even opening two key chapters of negotiation on core EU values – Chapter 23 on the judiciary and fundamental rights, and 24 on justice, freedom and security – politicians would find it harder to meddle with the judiciary and sanction rampant rights abuses. “That was pretty unwise of them on all levels. Really short sighted.”

Without letting Erdogan off the hook, EU diplomats I spoke to agree with that assessment. US officials have said the same, and chastised Europe for losing Turkey. The blindingly bad hand played collectively by the EU and several key members, when Ankara was at its most compliant, upset the thin-skinned Erdogan.


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Two feckless to care or too stupid to understand? Or both?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 02:34:20 PM EST
To be fair to Sarko, he was far from being the only one decided to keep the EU a "Christian club", he was just the most vocal (always demanding center stage, this one). You don't think that Merkel would have let that happen either, do you?

What is impressive is how fast all the progress of the oughties has been quickly erased in Turkey and Erdogan is now able to reverse even Mustafa Kemal.

You also don't have to be a rejected EU applicant to see democracy being eroded by an authoritarian executive: Orbán or Duda, for instance.

by Bernard on Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 07:38:00 PM EST
Yeah, I know, but I still like to give him a passing kick when I can.

Merkel, to be fair, might have been a bit less undiplomatically racist about it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2017 at 10:29:42 AM EST
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Yeah, I know, but I still like to give him a passing kick when I can.

I know the feeling :) especially for making us look back fondly at the Chirac years. Same with Trump for making W appear a real stateman...
[excuse me while I puke]

by Bernard on Tue Feb 28th, 2017 at 07:46:41 PM EST
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One of the best parts about W lecturing about freedom of the press is that he used to bomb al Jazeera.
by generic on Tue Feb 28th, 2017 at 08:19:43 PM EST
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Absolutely. I've been saying that for... I was going to say twenty years, but probably fifteen, since Giscard knifed Turkey in the back (he was president of the Convention on the Future of Europe at the time, not quite a nobody).

Without ever mentioning Islam... oh no! It wasn't considered polite, in those days. Just that they were of a "different culture" (an argument that holds no water : if the Greeks, why not the Turks?)

And the geographical criterion : if Europe stops at the Bosphorus, we've amputated millenia of European history. Turkey has been a European power since it exists. And will be again one day. With an unbiased run at EU accession, modern Turkish history would have been transformed, and it would undoubtedly have a more robust and mature democratic culture than many of the recent entrants.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 27th, 2017 at 08:36:26 PM EST
It's been amazingly obvious where this was going to end up and none of them gave a shit, preferring to follow the easy path of racism rather than challenge it. And look where it's got us.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2017 at 10:30:54 AM EST
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I don't think the EU has really digested the last enlargement of states - with some of the new members clearly not buying into some of the human rights and liberal political values of the founding and previous members. Turkey would have been a bridge too far too soon.  

A Demos is not simply an economic or abstract political construct.  People have to feel they are all part of the same movement with similar ideals.  It's easy to denigrate religious, cultural, geographic, ethnic and historical ties as irrational mumbo jumbo; but they are the very substance which hold political entities together.  

Part of the reason the far right is beating the left out the gate in recent times is because the right recognises this fundamental fact. Of course the right also exploits it and exacerbates differences for its own advantage.  The left, to it's credit, avoids doing this.

But there is no point in ignoring national identities (however constructed) completely.  You simply make your self irrelevant to the dominant discourse in a society which is always seeking to define itself as somehow unique. People have a need to define themselves and their communities and you ignore this at your peril.

There is a reason the almost non-existent chance of Turkey joining the EU was constantly raised as a bogeyman in the Brexit debate in the UK. It symbolised how the EU was moving further and further away from ordinary citizens who didn't see themselves and their interests and values reflected in the Leitmotiv of the EU.

Ironically, Brexit may now enable the EU to find a new lease of life by defining itself against the hard right class warriors of the UK and the Trumpistas in the US.  EU citizens will come to realise that their values and beliefs can no longer be taken for granted and that they are imperilled by 1930's style capitalism and fascism.

In any case, I do not think the loss of Turkey as an EU member is to be mourned in the short term. Yes, membership might have enabled Turkey to adopt a more progressive culture, but not without cost to the identity and cohesion of the EU as a whole.

And neither can the regression now of Turkey into an authoritarian state be blamed entirely on it's rejection by the EU.  Turkey has the take the bulk of the responsibility for that on it's own shoulders.  The EU has enough other challenges to be getting on with, and one of the hallmarks of political success is to set yourself limited, achievable objectives.

Juncker's 5 options for the EU demonstrate the limit of that ambition just now.  Picking the most progressive option is probably the most that can be achieved just now given the divergence between existing EU members.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 03:26:46 PM EST
Turkey would have been a bridge too far too soon.  

Turkey was a long-term project. Everyone knew that. The Turks knew that. And the use of anti-Turkish racism to shore up political campaigns in the EU led directly to Brexit, normalising the anti-brown people discourse used so skilfully there.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 04:22:39 PM EST
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But at least we've established Europe is for white Christians now, right?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 04:24:01 PM EST
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Europe is probably more heterogeneous than many areas of the world



Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 04:41:10 PM EST
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More so than which part of the world?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 05:25:59 PM EST
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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 05:33:53 PM EST
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In what sense of diverse?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 05:41:05 PM EST
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Definitions are provided with the linked maps...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 3rd, 2017 at 06:07:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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