Sunday, December 17, 2006

About historical mistakes casting long shadows

I'm looking forward to goodbyes to my long-term subscription to Time Magazine. I got it when I was still living in the old country, which is so left-leaning that journalism like Time’s, seemed from that vantage point a pretty neutral sort of rag. But that's not the point. As I am impatiently waiting for my next Amazon shipment to arrive, I got hold of a few random articles in Time and stumbled upon “Slow train to Europe; With controversy over Cyprus, Turkey’s membership on the E.U. fades further into the future”. This is of course in the light of E.U. Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn’s recent recommendation and subsequent acceptance of eight chapters of the 35 of Turkey’s membership talks, to be suspended, just 13 months after they started; all in reaction to Turkish intransigence to opening up its (air)ports to Cyprus carriers (the official half of that island state, that is).

In Time’s words, the accession train isn’t wrecked, but it will be slowed considerably. Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said that this is the consequence of Turkey not fulfilling its obligations.
It so happens I saw a news item the other day (don’t remember where), which made my hair stand on end. In the manner of current affairs programs passers-by in Ankara's high streets were surveyed about the E.U. membership talks. The figures pro went from 64 percent at the start of the talks, to a mere 32 percent at current levels. I actually heard someone commend on how the E.U. dare put forward all these demands, "after the Turks have given Europe its civilization"!'* What, darned tulip bulbs?! Apparently they are having strange ideas about what it is exactly that constitutes civilization. Unless, of course they mean this big, gaping black hole, right in the middle of Greek national history, which isn't mere bulbs, I can tell you!

With these reactions and others the Turks are unwittingly offering proof of their unreadiness to be a part of Europe. They simply don’t get lots of things. For example that the accession talks aren't a “bazari”, a series of negotiations in which both partners personally give and take, but instead a basic set of laws and regulations that each and every member state must implement and adhere to. Because of this attitude it feels to them as if the E.U. is piling demand upon demand on Turkey personally and that they personally have to “give in” time after time, which is very degrading to the proud Turkish nation!

Just like the old mentality of power politics, on which I have commented before in these pages. The mentality of a big country, that is no party to a dwarf state like Cyprus. They don’t understand that the E.U. is made up of any number of small countries (founded in fact by the three miniature BeNeLux countries), each of which has about the same weight in the decision making process as the bigger ones. This principle was on the point of being somewhat undercut by the proposed E.U. Constitution, reason why the Dutch have voted it down. It will of course be brought again to the table in another guise, but that’s another story.

But, Barroso doesn’t want to close the door to the proud Turkish state just yet. On the other hand there are a number of prominent European politicians, not all at ease with the Turkish membership. German Chancellor Angela Merkel for one. She’s not alone either. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister and presidential candidate, and Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber have also voiced criticism, as have Austria, Greece and Cyprus (no surprises from the Eurovision axis as yet).

Other problems lie in the areas of minority rights, freedom of speech and faith and the press, apart from that ridiculous law against insulting Turkishness, of which so much is being said, but is still not revoked.
I understand the atmosphere in Turkey is leaning towards actually ceasing accession talks from their end, but we're not to hold our breaths yet. But they won’t go back on Cyprus! Really, how can you expect to become a respected member of a club, saying simultaneously that another member, albeit a small one, will be either ignored or bullied into submission? Basis their geography Turkey may be a key player in many regions, there’s a reason they are friendless, apart from the few relationships of convenience they are involved in.

As long as Turkey is drawing for its mentality on traditional Middle Eastern political attitudes of power play, diplomatic bullying, driving excessive bargains, negotiating over absolutes coupled with an obnoxiously arrogant attitude in general, it will culturally and mentally be part of the east. It will not understand Europe, nor will it be ready to become a part of it. Europe we must accept has a Judaeo-Christian history and mind-set (which among other things made modesty a kind of chic trait).

That particular European mentality has been undercut of course by the latter day relativist generations and the multi-culti "Down With Us" deconstructionists. Thankfully a few generations not a barbarian make.

* N.B. I'm adding this note as a precaution, as it occurred to me that some victims of relativism might actually be persuaded to believe this remark, made by an anonymous Turkish woman in the program. No relativism on her part, of course.

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