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EU expansion and Turkey

by The3rdColumn Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:56:28 AM EST

Two of the pressing issues that Europe is facing and will have to face today and in the very near future concern the expansion of the EU as well as the inclusion of Turkey. They are political issues on which I have posted in my personal blogs. While I believe these issues border on the highly controversial, I have decided to confront them head on.

These questions are also contained in DoDo's link to an FT.com international poll (which, incidentally, tackled objections to Tony Blair's leadership, a subect DoDo and I were "debating" about sometime last January.)

To be perfectly honest, I am not surprised by The Harris Poll® #59 results, published on June 20, 2007 which revealed that Many European Adults Believe that the European Union Should Not Take in New Members and showed that majorities in France and Germany also said that Turkey should not be allowed into the EU.

Diary rescue by Migeru


Why am I not surprised? Because my own position on the said issues is clear-cut: my answer to both the following questions in the Harris Interactive site is a "NO"; my reasons are brief and direct to the point: [editor's note, by Migeru] Fold originally here

NEW EU MEMBERS: "Do you think the European Union should continue to take in new member countries?"

Great Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

United States

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

29

20

48

35

33

46

No

47

67

41

40

55

5

Not Sure

23

13

11

25

12

49

Personally opposed to EU taking in new members without prior consultation with and approval of EU citizens.

ALLOWING TURKEY INTO EU: "Do you think that Turkey should be invited to join the EU?"

Great Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

United States

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

23

16

31

26

21

32

No

46

71

55

46

66

13

Not Sure

31

13

14

28

13

55

Personally opposed to allowing Turkey into EU on account Turkey's refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide; furthermore, believe that the Kurdish question should first be resolved before raising the issue of Turkey's joining the EU; lastly, the growing radicalisation of Islam in Turkey which is in stark contradiction to the foundation of secular Turkish Republic as initially set up by its founding fathers led by the great Attaturk is a very troubling thought and this space believes that allowing Turkey into the EU while those issues are not resolved will cause unwanted and additional socio-cultural problems and frictions that the existing EU as a whole doesn't need and definitely can do without or not until member nations have definitely gotten their acts together on the common European identity front.

Display:
Indeed that's one way to approach the questions. I would argue, however, that the answers should be yes and yes:

Yes, the Union should continue to expand - in fact, it should incorporate any county willing to join and prepared to obey the Union's constitution. This is one of the keys to European soft power: The attraction that we have on minor states in the periphery of our sphere of interest. As they gravitate towards Europe they have to align themselves to our policies far more than we have to align ourselves to their policies, if they want to have a hope in Hell of eventually joining the Union.

If you remove the carrot of membership from those states, you have needlessly neutered the Union's ability to both expand our sphere of interest and exert influence over it.

Yes, Turkey should be permitted to enter the Union if and when they are prepared to adhere to the European constitution. If Turkey is admitted before the Kurdish question is resolved, before those who investigate the Armenian genocide are given full freedom of speech, and without Turkey being a secular country, then the fault lies with the European constitution and those who frame it for failing to contain provisions that ensure freedom of speech, secularism and the right to secession.

If the Union fails to adequately secure those liberties for its own citizens, then it is going to be royally screwed with Turkey or without.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:54:57 PM EST
I agree.

The EUs borg strategy is quite succesfull as many countries queue up to be assimilated. Lets keep it going.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 11:12:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a parallel in the way the Inca Empire is supposed to have grown by assimilation rather than by conquest?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 01:24:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Foretelling the future?"

The topic EU expansion and Turkey is followed directly by Jerome à Paris' Yawn... more financial markets collapse :-)

by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 08:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: "if and when they are prepared to adhere to the European constitution." But the EU doesn't have a constitution as such...
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 01:14:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has a acquis.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 01:22:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But we should have a constitution :-P

I mean, realistically, our boneheaded politicians are likely to screw up Turkey's membership (and/or screw up our relations with Turkey enough that they don't want membership). So if we can dream about Turkish membership, why can't we dream about a constitution?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:00:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that spatially and demographically, the union will become very lopsided with the admission of Turkey. The country is peripheral to Europe, and it doesn't always seem to be facing the right direction. I know it's not an argument, but it just doesn't feel right.

I suppose this issue needs to be settled though, as I think a certain (nameless) government seems to be using Turkey's membership in order to fulfil its goals for the EU. Perhaps the best thing is to put it to a referendum, a union wide referendum, so that not only will it definitely be rejected, but it will allow the creation of a shared meaning/vision for the union in the mind of citizens.

But I'm probably being idealistic, the most likely thing is that this gets dragged on for the next ten or more years until either party loses interest, and there will be no real closure.

Member of the Anti-Fabulousness League since 1987.

by Ephemera on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 08:15:15 PM EST
JakeS has a point. The constitution does have a controlling effect and the Human rights legislation has had a significant consequence in the U.K. despite a great deal of moaning by the rightwing. To sustain the liberal-secular culture of Turkey they need to be incorporated in a European system. That way arguments within Turkey will be partly driven by their treaty obligations to the European constitution. The problem with a referendum is that it can always be pushed through by a parliamentary vote anyway - witness France and the Lisbon Treaty. What troubles me slightly is that remark - it doesnt feel right which suggests something like pejudice.

As Donald Rumsfeld said death gives war a bad reputation.
by nick w on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 10:02:19 AM EST
the liberal-secular nature of Europe, Turkey might be best kept at arm's length for now?

And, to follow up on your invocation of the beneficient effect of human rights legislation in the UK (which I should point out was not prompted by EU membership, but by Council of Europe membership, very very big difference) I would point out that the EU pays a very big price, with little counterparty, for UK membership in the EU.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 10:43:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps one might say to preserve the liberal-secular nature of Europe, Turkey might be best kept at arm's length for now?

The two are not mutually exclusive. Turkey can be given a guarantee of membership if and when they are a stable, secular democracy that does not oppress minorities, try to revise history and/or protect war criminals. This will have the effect of aligning debate in Turkey with European policy (as long as we don't piss off the Turks badly enough that they say "screw it, we'll go play with Russia or the US instead"), while at the same time protecting the Union against getting another Poland writ big.

But for it to work, the guarantee of membership has to be credible. I don't think that means a timeline, exactly, so much as a trust that Turkish membership isn't going to be called into question purely for domestic consumption by xenophobes within the Union. And a lot of politicians seem keen on breaking that trust right now. I fear that in ten years we can add alienating Turkey to the list of criminally stupid things the right wing did in the aftermath of the Cold War.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:11:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We may as well poll Swedes on what they think of Porto Rican statehood or the border fence with Mexico while we are at it.


The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 10:46:36 AM EST
My answers are:

Yes on statehood, no on border fence.

Thanks for asking :-)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 11:01:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your question above makes a point.

It reminds me of one of the alternatives which "Le Nouvel Observateur" offered their readers:

On an on-line poll they gave the following options to the question if Turkey should join the EU:

1 - Oui;
2 - Non;
3 - Et pourquoi pas la Chine?

I voted 3.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:14:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the phrasing "should be invited" a bit odd, as it is more a question of should be allowed if it meets the criterias.

I think table 4 is the closest to measuring the response to that question:

Harris Interactive | The Harris Poll - Many European Adults Believe that the European Union Should Not Take in New Members

TABLE 4

TOTAL ALLOWING TURKEY INTO EU WITH REFORMS

Total for allowing Turkey into the EU (combining yes responses from Tables 2 and 3)

Base: All EU adults in five countries and US adults

 

Great Britain

France

Italy

Spain

Germany

United States

%

%

%

%

%

%

Yes

40

34

53

53

51

50

No

33

54

37

27

38

5

Not Sure

28

12

10

20

11

45

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

I think it would have been more interesting if instead of asking USA:ians they had polled EU:ians outside of the big five. But it being FT I guess that would be far to much to hope for.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 11:09:40 AM EST
I was in fact surprised to see that the Americans were included/polled.
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 12:44:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you think the above table is a landmark in the history of fabricated figures?
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Forgot to justify my previous explanation. Here it goes:

In the poll site you will find Tables 2 and 3. We have:

Question 2: "Do you think that Turkey should be invited to join the EU?"
Question 3: "If Turkey were to implement reforms desired by some EU member states, should it be invited to join the EU?"

From here they derive table 4: "Total for allowing Turkey into the EU (combining yes responses from Tables 2 and 3)".

NOW LOOK at above of table 3:
"Base: Adults who were not sure * OR DID NOT THINK * Turkey should be invited to join the EU"

instead of

"Base: Adults who were not sure Turkey should be invited to join the EU".

which is correct. but then, had they do so, and you would obtain, for example,  29.51% (before rounding), not 40%, in the upper leftmost square.

Fo'ks, doesn't that recalls you a nice 2004 joke on Diebold's voting machines from hell?

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 08:21:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
went like  this.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 08:45:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did not notice that (about the poll). And again I am not surprised (FT!).

Good video though.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 10:38:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it also applies to the EU constitution.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 10:45:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure I understand your criticism.

For Table 3, with the example of Britain, the base is the 46% who answered No to "Do you think that Turkey should be invited to join the EU?" PLUS the 31% that wasn't sure, altogether 77%. Now, 21% x 77% = 16.17%, I guess with the fractional percents it is a bit more, giving the 40% total.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:28:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On second thought, do you criticise the blanket statement "allowing Turkey into the EU" (whereas that number is the conditional total)? On that, I'd agree.

Plus, do you criticise even asking people who answered the general question on Turkey's accession with a No? On that criticism, I have to disagree: the question of Table 2 does NOT distinguish people who would not let Turkey in as it is right now, but are open to the accession of a further reformed Turkey; and people who would not let it in under any circumstances and don't want accession talks either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:34:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is precisely the last. only those "not sure" should be taken into consideration. it makes much more sense, don't you agree?

let me put in another perspective. how many those of said "yes" were assuming that turkish society would change?

the lack of discrimination is valid both ways!

...

notice that the not clarifications of the amount of requireds reform is not questioned, and that itself is sufficient to generate a bias. because what may be enough for N. may not enough for M.
this omission is not innocent. it is a forged agreement.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 01:21:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is precisely the last. only those "not sure" should be taken into consideration. it makes much more sense, don't you agree?

No, I don't.

let me put in another perspective. how many those of said "yes" were assuming that turkish society would change?

the lack of discrimination is valid both ways!

OK. I think where we could agree is that the unqualified question about whether Turkey should be allowed to join the EU is a stupid question. Personally, I think more specific questions should have been asked of everyone (such as: "Allow Turkey to accede if it fulfills all conditions?" "allow to accede once there is deeper integration?" "Do you think Turkey is able to fulfill all conditions... in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?").

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 03:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so have two different points under discussion (PUD) here:

ONE - which part of the respondents to question 2 (T2Q) should answer to the question of table 3 (T3Q)?

TWO - which question or questions should substitute T2Q?
...........................

there is a connection between the two points, and I think that if we address question II first we may still agree on question I.
so in this post i'll address question II; in a next, parallel, post i'll  address question I. post titles codify this.

PUD-TWO will be discussed bellow
.............................

It seems many different reasons can justify why one opposes or is in favour of Turkey becoming a member of the EU. we have:

Factors extrinsic to Turkey, such as

- is the EU ready to take new members?
 (>> is it mature, in terms of decision processes?
  >> are the new members states already integrated, and so we can continue enlargement under?)
)
- can the EU take any more members at all?
  (>> may there be a limit number of members-states before the decision process colapse? OR
 >> may there be a limit number of member-states after which the founding members cannot obtain the advantages from participating in the association that justifies their financial support to the cohesion of the group?)

- factors specific to the entrance of Turkey
( >> the fact that Turkey is mostly in Asia (96% of its territory
  >> is Turkey a European culture?
  >> is Turkey too big and poor?
  >> was it not Turkey a country which kept SE Europe under its control for hundreads of years?
  >> is the geopolitical agenda of Turkey compatible to the one of major european powers?)

(Resuming) PUD-TWO Main Result:
These are too many questions. they deserve a serious poll on their own.

Corolary a
 you cannot possible discuss the turkish accession problem in detail in this poll.
Corolary b
 therefore the poll should be limitted to T2Q. T2Q is not a bad question. you just cannot elaborate from it.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:00:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
only those who responded favourably to T2Q are admitted to T3Q. let's call it the For or Neutral subset to question 2 (fnQ2). the Against (negative) Subset to question 2 - aQ2 - is not represented in T3Q.

In table 4 fnQ2 is mixed with all of of Q2.
therefore the mixture in T4 (no question here) is enriched in fnQ2 and depleted in aQ2.

-------------------------

was this answering style too pompous for you?

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:25:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any Idea why the French are so much more negative?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello ceebs, Not absolutely sure but I think it's something to do with fear of the "unknown" (la peur de l'inconnu), something embedded in the French psyche -- the idea that there might be a clash of civilisations here too?
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:40:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The membership of Turkey has been a campaign subject for quite some time in France ; the demagogue right wing, i.e. Sarkozy, has constantly spoken against it ; and the left wing, which should welcome it, is becoming anti European thanks to the ratification of the Lisbon treaty.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 07:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, I think a lot of polls showing opposition to Turkey's accession extending well into the French left pre-date French ratification.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:37:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, parts of the French left used nearly xenophobic arguments - the Polish plumber - in the referendum campaign.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 07:53:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And it is felt as a "knife in the back" from many of the intellectuals, as it was the only country who had an embassy with the Ottomans.

You add to that, that french was an alternative language for many and that the modern turkish is embedded with hundred of french words (though the spelling isn't similar)!

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman

by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we see Turkish membership pushed by Tony Blair and the Americans...

Note that the strongly pro-European Modem is also against Turkish membership on the grounds that it would be detrimental to deepening of the existing union.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 06:36:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh! The topic is back...
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 12:42:48 PM EST
When has there ever been no clash of civilisations? The French are the worst at it.  -DoDo-linca - Ephemara( doesnt feel right) Remember the distinction between French Right and Left is useless - they are not internationalist - they are francophone and nationalist above all. REDSTAR- you will be seen as rascist even if you are not (I hope and assume). O.K. Council of Europe is not the same as E.U. membership butits all still Europe - its a cultural question. U.K. membership - so what? Once again JakeS has it right: *I fear in tewn years we can add alienating Turkey to the list of crimially stupid things the right wing (in Europe) did in the aftermath of the cold war.  And beware rascist perspectives. I know there are other arguments about Turkish entry but remember there is a rascist streak in French right wing culture which drove the referendum vote. I live here I spoke to them.

As Donald Rumsfeld said death gives war a bad reputation.
by nick w on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 09:22:46 AM EST
"the growing radicalisation of Islam in Turkey which is in stark contradiction to the foundation of secular Turkish Republic as initially set up by its founding fathers led by the great Attaturk is a very troubling thought"

The suppression of Islam in Turkey by Attaturk would have been clearly against European freedom of religion and the secularism was used to expropriate christian churches as well. France is pretty much on the secular edge in Europe, but in other countries religous freedom is the freedom to be religious, not the absence of religion.

Erdogan has removed obstacles to a EU membership, although it is impossible to remove the biggest, that Turkey would soon be the biggest country in the EU with the most power, but one of the weakest economies. With such a constellation the deepening of the EU would end for sure at least for some time.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 17th, 2008 at 08:44:38 PM EST
The suppression of Islam in Turkey by Attaturk would have been clearly against European freedom of religion and the secularism was used to expropriate christian churches as well.

Lots of atrocities were committed by Ataturk, no doubt about it, but I find it very, very hard to cry for expropriated churches.

Not infrequently, religious groups would possess a wealth and power in pre-secular and pre-democratic countries that is 1) acquired by decidedly dubious means and 2) would give them entirely too much power over the new secular, democratic state if they were allowed to keep it. In such cases, cutting them down to size is entirely appropriate. And if that means that the state gains some property at the expense of priestly plutocrats, well boo hoo.

France is pretty much on the secular edge in Europe, but in other countries religous freedom is the freedom to be religious, not the absence of religion.

The former cannot exist without the latter. If I am not free from your religion, then I can't very well subscribe to my own.

We may argue about how far the state should go to prevent religious coercion, and we may quarrel over the specific measures taken by the state to protect its citizens from religious coercion. There is certainly a case to be made that some measures serve more to persecute (a) religion than to protect others from it. But the basic premise remains: No-one should be able to apply leverage against any person to make him or her follow a certain religion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 06:36:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You only prove your silly prejudices.
To possess churches (the building in which the community meets) clearly gives not too much influence over the state. It provides a common room, without gov influence.
Based on the rules of Attaturk organisations were expropriated, who bought the ground well after the Republic was founded (e.g. in the 60s). This is nothing dubious. Your claim that the catholic church would have immense predemocratic power in the Ottoman empire is rather redicolous.
In the Islam there is no big tradition of separation between clerics and non-clerics. Therefore as soon as the gov becomes secular the power leverage of any clerics, whoever this should be, is very small. Turkey has an office for religious affairs, but this is clearly a way how the gov controls religion not vice versa.
The dubious predemocratic gains of wealth happened in western Europe, but here I'm not aware of any expropriation.

"The priestly plutocrats"... LOL, of which century and which region are you speaking. Certainly not of the 21st in Europe.

"We may argue about how far the state should go to prevent religious coercion, and we may quarrel over the specific measures taken by the state to protect its citizens from religious coercion."
But if you defend Turkey on that issue, you certainly think that Germany is run by Taleban. Are you advocating that NATO should bomb Germany until the minority, uhm, majority of people who are not strongly committed to any religious group are not forced to do what exactly?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 18th, 2008 at 08:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To possess churches (the building in which the community meets) clearly gives not too much influence over the state. It provides a common room, without gov influence.

When, as was the case before the Danish reformation, they own more than a full third of the available farmland, I would argue that they do, in fact, exert undue influence.

I don't know the precise influence of the various Christian factions in the Ottoman empire, but I can find no principled reason to say that the Danish monarch's expropriation of Catholic property in the 1500-somethings was right and proper while denying the same propriety to Atatürk's reforms. When you make a democratic state, royalists, clergy and other plutocrats are going to take a hit in their wealth and influence. Which is probably why the Church has always been opposed to democracy, but I digress.

Based on the rules of Attaturk organisations were expropriated, who bought the ground well after the Republic was founded (e.g. in the 60s). This is nothing dubious.

Leaving aside the question of whether land ownership itself is dubious, simply having paid for something does not automatically whitewash your possession of it. If, for instance, a robber gang plunders the countryside and then buys land for the proceeds, their land should not be protected from expropriation simply because they didn't steal the land directly.

Again, I do not know the exact details of the Atatürk reforms so I'll be prepared to grant that specific instances crossed the line into the unacceptable, but I am not willing to accept as a fundamental principle that governments can never confiscate the property of religious organisations. There are simply too many examples throughout history where such confiscations have been entirely justified.

Further, in the case of the Catholic Church which you cite, wealth that they used to buy that property is itself dubious. It's based in no small part on Nazi gold, for one thing.

Your claim that the catholic church would have immense predemocratic power in the Ottoman empire is rather redicolous.

Uh, I didn't claim that. I claimed that if nothing had been done, religious groups would have had undue influence over the new Turkish state. Do you dispute that? So, if Atatürk was right to nerf Islam, why shouldn't he nerf Christianity in the same process?

In the Islam there is no big tradition of separation between clerics and non-clerics. Therefore as soon as the gov becomes secular the power leverage of any clerics, whoever this should be, is very small.

Except when they are filthy rich. There is an Arabian proverb: "A dog with money is called Sir Dog."

Turkey has an office for religious affairs, but this is clearly a way how the gov controls religion not vice versa.

And? So does Denmark, for the record.

The dubious predemocratic gains of wealth happened in western Europe, but here I'm not aware of any expropriation.

Uuh... Reformation, anyone? Desamortisation? Unification of Italy? French revolution? You'd be hard pressed to find a country west of the former Iron Curtain that didn't at some point between the 16th and 21st century confiscate the bulk of religious holdings.

"The priestly plutocrats"... LOL, of which century and which region are you speaking. Certainly not of the 21st in Europe.

21st cent. Vatican would fit the bill (except that calling them 'plutocrats' is entirely too kind - 'criminals' or 'gangsters' would be a better fit). As would most American televangelists, and a good swath of evangelical preachers.

"We may argue about how far the state should go to prevent religious coercion, and we may quarrel over the specific measures taken by the state to protect its citizens from religious coercion."
But if you defend Turkey on that issue, you certainly think that Germany is run by Taleban. Are you advocating that NATO should bomb Germany until the minority, uhm, majority of people who are not strongly committed to any religious group are not forced to do what exactly?

Leaving aside the fact that I do not support military intervention in the affairs of sovereign countries, except in the case of ongoing genocide, and leaving aside the fact that I do not agree with all - or even most - of the measures currently taken by Turkey in the pursuit of secularisation, I do think that some areas of Germany (think Bayern) are unduly dominated by religious groups that do not have the best interests of Europe (or Germany) in mind.

I don't know how to fix that problem, though, and I'm pretty sure that bombing won't help (breaking the federation might be an idea, though).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 06:06:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are we really lauding the hanging of priests from the portals of church doors?
by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 10:55:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course not. I fail to see how you can read that from my post. I applaud the confiscation of Church property that happened during the Reformation. It was long overdue. And I can't find a principled reason for why it should be OK to confiscate European churches but not OK to confiscate Turkish churches. But nowhere have I said anything about hanging priests. That simply does not follow. I also applaud the French Revolution - doesn't follow from that that I defend Robespierre.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the hanging of priests happened hand in hand with the taking of churches. All at the same time. And it wasn't the taking of mosques. Just churches.
by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:45:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't support the death penalty. Full stop. I don't support the murder of anybody, whether judicial or extrajudicial. Full stop. And I'm not even arguing that confiscation of churches is always legitimate. I am simply arguing that there are many cases where confiscation of churches is entirely legitimate, and that such cases are very likely to crop up during a secularisation process.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:57:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So in Denmark a third of the whole country was full with churches? Where did people live?
It is a different thing to expropriate old property or expropriate newly bought in a country. And this is not a small one. Why not then forbid buying in the first place?
Have you any source for the claim that the catholic church has its income to a big part from Nazi gold? In the last ten years e.g. Germans paid about 50 bn Euro to the catholic church. How many billions of Nazi gold has the church hidden?
Yes, I dispute that religious groups had a huge amount of property. And no mosque actually was confiscated. So its not a byproduct of nerfing (my dictionary don't include that word) Islam.

And the office holder in Denmark claims to be the leading Bishop, despite assigned by the gov?

What is a religious holding? Is the gov confiscating church owned corporations or churches?

Again what exactly are you claiming is the Vatican doing? What and why should anybody there try to pile up money? I can't see any motivation.

Of what dubious groups you are speaking. I don't live in Bavaria, but I would really like to know, what is there happening. I have inly access to public statements, not to whatever you are referring to.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you may be reading a bit more into my posts than I intended them to convey. So before I get down to the nuts and bolts of the reply, let me clarify a few points:

  • I am not defending all of Turkey's policies from Atatürk onward. I am defending Atatürk's secularisation reforms (or, more accurately, a subset of those reforms).

  • I am not saying that confiscating churches is always legitimate. I am saying that it is not always illegitimate. This is not a trivial difference.

  • I have very little patience for whining complaints about how the Catholic Church is persecuted, as long as the Church enjoys privileged legal status i Spain, Italy, Latin America, Malta, Poland and a slew of African countries. It is blatant hypocrisy to whine about persecution of the Catholic Church in non-Catholic countries as long as the Church is actively defending oppression of non-Catholics in Catholic countries (I am, of course, using '[religion] countries' as a shorthand here - I don't accept the notion that countries can align themselves with a religion).

  • Furthermore, given the Catholic Church's position on reproductive rights and reproductive health - a position which is nothing short of genocidal - (as well as their reprehensible homophobia and general male chauvinism) I would have precious little sympathy to spare for the Church, even if it wasn't blatantly hypocritical on the subject of religious discrimination.

  • Note, however, that the Catholic Church is not the same as 'Catholics,' however much the Church may want to encourage that notion - I do not condone the persecution of Catholics, but I have no tears to shed for persecution of the Catholic Church or clergy ranking Bishop or higher.

So in Denmark a third of the whole country was full with churches? Where did people live?

A third of the land was owned by the Church. They did not, of course, build churches on all of it. Most of it was farmed, actually, although not quite as efficiently as it could have been. During the Reformation, this land - including churches and monasteries - was confiscated by the Crown, along with whatever wealth the Crown could get its hands on before the Church smuggled it out of the country. Are you saying that that confiscation was a wrong thing to do?

It is a different thing to expropriate old property or expropriate newly bought in a country. And this is not a small one.

That depends on whether the funds used to purchase it was acquired legitimately. If they were not, I fail to see why the property shouldn't be confiscated. And in the case of the Catholic Church, I consider all their funds illegitimate, for the reasons stated above.

Why not then forbid buying in the first place?

That would have been a more elegant solution, yes.

Have you any source for the claim that the catholic church has its income to a big part from Nazi gold?

You mean documentation apart from the Reichskonkordat of 1933 and the equivalent agreement with Mussolini in '29? Apart from the Ratlines? Apart from the economic and political alliance between the Church and Franco? The fact that the Vatican was in the Axis from the formation? Aside from the fact that everything the Vatican possessed in 1945 must have been gifts from the Axis, because the Vatican did not exist until it was created by Mussolini in 1929 (the Papal States were abolished and their land confiscated during the unification of Italy in the 19th century)?

None of this is particularly secret information, available only after diligent searching. So I'm a bit confused as to why you'd ask for clarification?

In the last ten years e.g. Germans paid about 50 bn Euro to the catholic church. How many billions of Nazi gold has the church hidden?

I don't know, because the Vatican has refused to release its post-WWI archives, but the most reliable estimates I've seen cite a figure with between seven and nine digits (in 1945 US$ - you can probably add a digit or two to get to current €). Note that this does not include capital gains from that wealth - if one includes those, which could easily be argued, the number becomes a lot bigger.

Yes, I dispute that religious groups had a huge amount of property. And no mosque actually was confiscated. So its not a byproduct of nerfing (my dictionary don't include that word) Islam.

Inasmuch as Wikipedia can be trusted on the matter, you're wrong about that. Money quote:

The policies directly affecting religion were numerous and sweeping. In addition to the abolition of the caliphate, new laws mandated abolition of the office of seyhülislam ; abolition of the religious hierarchy; the closing and confiscation of Sufi lodges, meeting places, and monasteries and the outlawing of their rituals and meetings; establishment of government control over the vakifs, which had been inalienable under Sharia; replacement of sharia with adapted European legal codes; the closing of religious schools; abandonment of the Islamic calendar in favor of the Gregorian calendar used in the West; restrictions on public attire that had religious associations, with the fez outlawed for men and the veil discouraged for women; and the outlawing of the traditional garb of local religious leaders.

Now, are all of these 'reforms' reasonable? No. Most of them are pretty horrible, actually. Are even the majority of them reasonable? Probably not. Are they worse than what happened during the Reformation and the French Revolution? You'd be hard pressed to argue that convincingly. So why do you hold Turkey to a higher standard than France and Germany?

And the office holder in Denmark claims to be the leading Bishop, despite assigned by the gov?

There is no such thing as a 'leading bishop' in Denmark. We don't have a synod. That being said, all priests - including bishops - of the majority religion are government employees, and the minister of the church does have the power to fire out-of-line clerics, although it is very rarely exercised (more importantly, s/he has the power to retain clerics that the bishops think are out of line - a power that has been used rather more liberally). It works very well, and is a system that I believe should be extended to other religious groups should they wish to join it.

What is a religious holding? Is the gov confiscating church owned corporations or churches?

The line can get fuzzy. But in the case of the Catholic church, with a well-defined hierarchy and quasi-state/quasi-corporate structure it becomes a lot easier.

Again what exactly are you claiming is the Vatican doing?

Protecting child molesters, for one thing. Cheating on taxes (remember the concordat with Mussolini? Tax exemption was one of his gifts, and it's never been rescinded). Berlusconi. Bush. Hiding valuable historical information for no good reason. Abetting the murder of homosexuals. Aiding and abetting the denial of human rights to women. Refusing to pay compensation to victims of the Holocaust, despite being an Axis state during the War. Refusing to pay compensation to the victims of clerical child molesters. Obstructing justice re. said child molesters, even after they are caught. Oh, and let's not forget the Vatican's genocidal policy re. condoms and AIDS.

Just to take a top-of-my-head list. I could probably dig out a handful more points if you want me to, but is that really necessary?

What and why should anybody there try to pile up money? I can't see any motivation.

You mean apart from greed and corruption? I don't know. But then again, I never understood why Marie Antoniette was eating cake while the peasants were starving either.

Of what dubious groups you are speaking. I don't live in Bavaria, but I would really like to know, what is there happening. I have inly access to public statements, not to whatever you are referring to.

Oh, the lobby groups that still try to deny women full equality, just to take one example (think daycare, think reproductive rights) - they're Protestant as well as Catholic, of course; you might say that they're equal opportunity bigots. The same lobby groups that fight against full equality for homosexuals. And some religious groups are even so backwards that they are opposed to contraception. The extent to which the social safety net is still in the hands of religious groups is also... disturbing.

Oh, Bayern isn't Poland or Russia. I'm not claiming that homosexuals are being systematically assaulted and abused. But it wouldn't hurt the image of Christianity in general - Protestantism as well as Catholicism and Orthodox churches - if they would lay off the organised, doctrinal homophobia.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:31:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My proofreading seems to have gone to Hell today. The quote from Wikipedia was taken from this page.

And I forgot to add a highlight in the quote:

The policies directly affecting religion were numerous and sweeping. In addition to the abolition of the caliphate, new laws mandated abolition of the office of seyhülislam ; abolition of the religious hierarchy; the closing and confiscation of Sufi lodges, meeting places, and monasteries and the outlawing of their rituals and meetings; establishment of government control over the vakıfs, which had been inalienable under Sharia; replacement of sharia with adapted European legal codes; the closing of religious schools; abandonment of the Islamic calendar in favor of the Gregorian calendar used in the West; restrictions on public attire that had religious associations, with the fez outlawed for men and the veil discouraged for women; and the outlawing of the traditional garb of local religious leaders.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 02:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I have as well never said everything Attatürk did was wrong. So maybe I was really reading something into your comments, but you used great Attatürk, which for me is a strong sign of support and an attribute, which I have never used in connection with any politician.

On the other issues, well, on some I agree on others I disagree, but I don't think its worth debating here any more.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 10:58:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I rarely use 'great' to describe a politician, so I was somewhat puzzled at this. 'Great Atatürk,' it turns out, wasn't my choice of words. That was from the original diary, which I'm not the author of. I've done a text search of this thread and it doesn't appear anywhere in my comments.

For the record, I would personally I rank Atatürk somewhere in the vicinity of Churchill as greatness goes. Like Churchill, he did a lot of things that were arguably necessary, but like Churchill he used methods that I often find it hard or impossible to condone, or which were unduly harsh compared to the nature and severity of the problems he faced.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 01:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you are really only advocating bombing in case of a genocide? So why then you recently argued that it was right to bomb Kosovo, as there was "only" a displacement, which could have been handled without bombing?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry. I blame insufficient proofreading. It should have read 'ethnic cleansing,' not 'genocide.'

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 01:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The new invasion of Iraq

Up to 10,000 Turkish troops launch an incursion which threatens to destabilise the country's only peaceful region.

Apparently, the attempt is aimed at pressuring the US to choke the PKK. Meanwhile, Kurdish "rebels" have vowed to take the fight to Turkish cities.

Blimey! A sure fire twin formula to further destabilise the region.

by The3rdColumn on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 05:38:36 PM EST
Nah I think Turkey gave up on pressurising the US to deal with the PKK months back, since then it's (successfully) been focussing its efforts on pressurising the US to let IT deal with the PKK itself (with loss of Incirlik as implicit tug-of-war stick, compromise on limited-scale-of-incursions as carrot). But that puts the US between a rock and a hard place - either give the Turks the green light and lose the Kurds, or lose the Turks by protecting the Kurds (who protect the Turk-terrorising PKK and its oh-so-US-convenient Iran-terrorising branch the PJAK).  So far, US fear of losing key military-base provider Turkey seems to have won the day?

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 08:11:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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