Sun Jul 10th, 2005 at 03:48:14 AM EST
I already made some comments on eurotrib about Turkey membership in Europe :
For this moment i am absolutely opposed to it, not because i am racist, not because i do not like turkey (i like this country and i crossed it until Syria) but because i strongly fell than it does not make sense for the Europe i dream, the identity i want, affinity i need.
I do not accept without support the strange idea that this membership can solve an hypothetical clash of civilization and i do not believe that i must be the purpose and burden of Europe (as organisation).
I want you opinion about it and post this article that sound right for me, as bloody french.
07:41 PM CDT on Saturday, July 9, 2005
ISTANBUL - Move from austere Paris to this anarchic city as I have done this summer, and it's hard to escape the conclusion that the idea of integrating Turkey into the European Union is and always has been ludicrous. Turkey is not Europe, and it is certainly not France.I do not say this merely because the phones, electricity, hot water and front-door lock have failed on me, serially, since my arrival, along with the Internet, refrigerator and stove. I say this because every Turk to whom I've spoken wants nothing more than the chance to become part of the predicted flood of cheap, unskilled labor that would almost certainly destabilize the economies and social orders of the Northern European welfare states if Europe and its periphery were to be glued together and all the borders thrown open.
The French understood that when they voted non last month to the European Union constitution, as did the Dutch when they followed suit with their nee. Contrary to the assurances of many of their politicians, people in those countries recognized that their core national values were under threat by the prospect of an expanded and unified Europe.
Istanbul is a fantastic city, don't get me wrong - it's utterly alive, messy and exotic. But it is sobering to reflect that supposedly thoughtful politicians have been considering the idea that France and Turkey might within our lifetimes be merged into one harmonious entity. Indeed, it is an indicator of the level of delusion that has accompanied the EU dream.
Deep down, the ordinary Frenchman doesn't believe that Turks, or Eastern Europeans for that matter, cherish the values he holds most dear.
Profound ideological differences were on vivid display recently in a revealing drama on a Paris sidewalk.
A shady-looking character ran up the street. Suddenly, a man wearing the familiar outfit of a French waiter rushed up behind him, yelling at him to stop, then charged into him, knocking him to the ground with a clatter. The waiter straddled the man and began slapping his face, calling him a filthy thief.
A police motorcycle roared up. Off hopped a cop who could not have been more than 25. He interposed himself between the thief and the waiter and then, with his finger in the air, began a lecture. Never raising his voice, he told the infuriated waiter that no matter what the thief might have stolen, he had no right to settle matters privately.
Then he said, slowly and quite distinctly: "In France, we have the law."
As these words rolled over the waiter - they were repeated several times - his face registered first embarrassment, then unease and then what was unmistakably a deep sense of shame. In France, we have the law. Not, "There are laws against that, buddy," as a New York cop might have said, but, "In France, we have the law," almost as if, as the representative of the state, the policeman was addressing the untamed aspect of the human heart itself. And then, with the alleged thief in custody, the policeman adjusted his sunglasses and was off.
Take note first of the "we" in the policeman's declaration - it's we the French, not we the Europeans. And second, notice his appeal to the law: These easily mocked people with their passion for abstractions really do take some things seriously. Shame registered on the waiter's face because he realized that he had violated a social contract to which he owed his allegiance.
Sooner or later, of course, France will have to come to terms with the reality of the modern world: Its extensive social welfare system, its 35-hour workweek and its highly regulated economy cannot be sustained indefinitely. But many concerns that drove French voters to reject the European constitution make perfect sense. French politicians may have delivered enthusiastic encomiums to European unity for the past half-century, but it seems that the French people do indeed cherish their sovereignty - their distinct cultural identity, their legal and educational traditions and their social stability.
The one thing the vote surely expressed is the unwillingness of the French to cede any more of their national identity to the fantasy of a unified Europe. It is a fantasy, of course, of very old standing. No effort to unify Europe has ever succeeded. Most have ended in blood.
That's because the treaties that established the EU work at cross-purposes with the essential character of the nation-state system that has been evolving in Europe since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The modern nation-state is predicated, precisely as the term suggests, on this idea: one nation, one state. The nation includes those who share a particular historical, linguistic and cultural heritage. Unsurprisingly, it is difficult to cobble nation-states together into a grand transnational entity. Also unsurprisingly, they do not take well to the prospect of large-scale immigration.
What seems obvious to me, sitting in darkened rooms at night after the Istanbul power fails, is obvious to the French electorate. The electricity supply here has been unreliable because my neighbors are diverting it, causing blackouts. Here, we do not have the law.
Nobody in the French elite has been prepared to say what French voters said clearly - that, even if the EU makes sense economically, it makes no sense historically. All of European history - all of world history - argues against a federation with no force to back it up and no way to impose its will on member states. The French voters recognized this even as the French elite failed to. No matter how hard EU bureaucrats try to turn the French identity into a European one, the people just aren't buying it.
Claire Berlinski, a novelist and writer living in Paris and Istanbul, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her next book, "Blackmailed by History," which explores the reawakening of repressed conflicts in Europe, will be published by Crown Forum in 2006.