Monday, December 04, 2006


Let the Turks now carry away their abuses, in the only possible manner, namely, by carrying off themselves. Their Zaptiehs and their Mudirs, their Blmhashis and Yuzbashis, their Kaimakams and their Pashas, one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province that they have desolated and profaned. This thorough riddance, this most blessed deliverance, is the only reparation we can make to those heaps and heaps of dead, the violated purity alike of matron and of maiden and of child; to the civilization which has been affronted and shamed; to the laws of God, or, if you like, of Allah; to the moral sense of mankind at large. There is not a criminal in an European jail, there is not a criminal in the South Sea Islands, whose indignation would not rise and over-boil at the recital of that which has been done, which has too late been examined, but which remains unavenged, which has left behind all the foul and all the fierce passions which produced it and which may again spring up in another murderous harvest from the soil soaked and reeking with blood and in the air tainted with every imaginable deed of crime and shame. That such things should be done once is a damning disgrace to the portion of our race which did them; that the door should be left open to the ever so barely possible repetition would spread that shame over the world....

“We may ransack the annals of the world, but I know not what research can furnish us with so portentous an example of the fiendish misuse of the powers established by God for the punishment of evil doers and the encouragement of them that do well. No government ever has so sinned, none has proved itself so incorrigible in sin, or which is the same, so impotent in reformation....

“Let me endeavor, very briefly to sketch, in the rudest outline what the Turkish race was and what it is. It is not a question of Mohammedanism simply, but of Mohammedanism compounded with the peculiar character of a race. They are not the mild Mohammedans of India, nor the chivalrous Saladins of Syria, nor the cultured Moors of Spain. They were, upon the whole, from the black day when they first entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and, as far as their dominion reached, civilization disappeared from view. They represented everywhere government by force as opposed to government by law."

William Ewart Gladstone, The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East, 1876.

"The strained relationship between Europe and Turkey took two steps forward last week and, we fear, at least that many backward.

On the plus side, the visit to Turkey by Pope Benedict XVI helped soothe relations, especially after Benedict backed off his opposition to Turkey’s application to join the European Union. The pope — who infuriated Muslims a few months ago with a tone-deaf speech criticizing Islam — may have done even more good with his visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, where he prayed facing Mecca.

But those efforts at conciliation may be undercut if the European Union follows through on a recommendation by its enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn, to freeze part of the negotiating program for Turkey’s membership unless Turkey opens its ports to shipping from Cyprus. To many in Turkey — and to us as well — that looked like another ploy to keep Turkey out of the union. Some members are pressing for the European Union to suspend the talks altogether.

There is no question that Turkey has to open its ports, the sooner the better. But the European Union also needs to do a lot more to help end the division of Cyprus — rather than just hitting Turkey over the head with it.

In 2004, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, courageously changed his country’s longstanding policy and persuaded Turkish Cypriots to vote in favor of a United Nations settlement plan.

But the Greek Cypriots — assured by the European Union of membership no matter what they did — rejected the plan. If the union is serious about bringing in Turkey — and it should be — it needs to press the Greek Cypriots to settle.

It is obvious why Turkey would want to join Europe’s wealthy club. But Europe and all of the West have a lot to gain as well. The prospect of membership is already encouraging Ankara to make needed political and economic reforms, although a lot more needs to be done. Turkey’s admission would be a strong sign that the West truly believes its claims of tolerance and respect for all religions.

As he left Istanbul, the pope said he hoped his visit would bring “civilizations progressively closer.” The European Union should listen".


Now that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict the XVI, has come and gone from Turkey, and now that the European Commission has recommended that one-third, of the negotiationing chapters of the Turkish application for membership be put on hold, until Ankara climbs down over the issue of Cyprus, an ruling that will no doubt be endorsed by the EU's heads of government when they meet next week, where or should I say what is the outlook for Turkish membership of the European Union, and more importantly, should Turkey become a member of the EU?

As per the first question, it would appear that in the absence of a clear and consistent move by Ankara to satisfy the Greek Cypriots over recognizing them, as well as opening their ports to Greek Cypriot shipping, that Nicosia, can and will place a 'hold', if not in fact a veto, on further progress in Turkish membership talks. In addition, even in the absence of the Greek Cypriot issue, it would appear that the 'expansion fatigue', which has enveloped almost the entire, 'old Europe' membership of the EU, means that the likelihood of near term progress on Turkish membership is unlikely in the extreme. Already two if not more governments (principally France & Austria) have promised to hold referendum, prior to allowing Turkey into the Union. Unless and until, far greater changes takes place in Turkey, id est, a much much greater degree of secularization, as well as a much great degree of convergence between Asiatic Turkey and the European Union norm, than all too many Europeans will regard Ankara's accession as being in every sense of the word, much too much a burden to carry. With the likelihood, of either of the two developments just mentioning occurring, not altogether certain in the least. If not in fact a complete non possumus.

As per the second question: 'is Turkish membership of the European Union a good thing'? That is I am afraid something in which a lot of (I must unfortunately use this term with some reluctance, but, still I will do so) nonsense, most especially liberal nonsense is emitted. Exhibit one of which is the New York Times editorial above. As can evidently be seen, it is self-evident to the editorial board of the Times, that Turkey's admission into the EU is axiomatic. The reasons given: "the West truly believes in its claims for tolerance and respect for all religions". Are on the face of it, nonsensical in the extreme. The idea that the EU should ignore the extreme differences in religion and culture, differences which go to the very heart of what it is to be European, as opposed to being Asiatic, are part and parcel of a what the Tory Blue, British periodical The Salisbury Review, recently dubbed 'Post-enlightenment, Liberal Cosmopolitanism'. An ideology, which unfortunately has tended to do far more harm than good since it has come into this earth. In addition of course as a mere matter of logic, the Times argument makes no sense: Cyprus' veto is not due to religious reasons, but for raison d'etat. What Nicosia's attitude would be if Ankara gave way all along the line, we do not know, but, it is questionable that merely for religious reasons, Greek Cyprus would veto Turkish entry due to the fact that Turkey is a Muslim country.

However, let us leave off, the rather second eleven logic that the Times employs for more, sturdy stuff, such as the argument trotted out that in the absence of eventual Turkish membership, Ankara is likely to turn its face towards its regional neighbors of Iraq, Iran and Syria, and become an anti-western power. It will also of course forgo needed reforms in both its economy and its legal structure. Another argument made is that by failing to allow Turkey into the EU, Europe is missing a golden opportunity to embrace a nation which would allow it great influence and indeed power in both the Near East and even in Central Asia. As per the first of these, well it again is a failure of logic and history. Insofar as the Turkish government has made progress in reforming its economy and its legal structures to conform to more up to date practice and norms, it is doubtful that these are solely or even primarily due to the mere prospect of EU membership. If that were in fact the case, it is highly likely that any such reforms will be easily reversed at the first opportunity by those forces in Turkish society who oppose them. If, the reforms in question are deeply rooted in Turkish society, then that is due to the fact that the forces in their favor, are strong enough to have the self-same reforms passed. Meaning of course der Primat der Innenpolitik. Similarly, the reverse logic, that the rejection of Turkey will result in Ankara taking a non-Western, reactionary path, seems highly unlikely, except as such tendencies are deeply rooted in Turkish society already. This is the same type of bad reasoning which claimed fifteen years ago, that Russia was a modern-day Weimar, and that in the near future it would turn into a modern day Dritten Reich. A prediction which time has not born out, to put it mildly. And, as per the idea that Turkey will turn in frustration to its immediate neighbors for geopolitical solace, well, given the upheavals in the Near East, once is rather skeptical that Turkey will in any situation which to 'go back to', its poor cousins. Especially given the differing interests that Ankara still has with most of its neighbors.

It is of course precisely such differences which give the lie to the idea that Turkey's joining the EU will have the result of making the European Union into a great or greater world power. The fact is of course, that many of the Ankara's Arabic neighbors hold Turkey in suspicion due to both its Imperial past, as well as its close ties with Israel. As per the notion that the EU is failing to fulfill its destiny by utilizing Turkey's power and position to become some type of machtstaat. This is perhaps the most fanciful notion of all! There is absolutely no interest in the European Union, either in Brussels, Strasbourg, or in much of the European population for the EU to become a great power, `a la the USA. Sad perhaps, but all to true. And, of course, if Turkey were to become a member of the EU, the latter would inherite all of Ankara's conflicts with its neighbors. Conflicts which almost led in the recent past to war between Syria and Turkey. In short to sum up, almost none of the reasoning pro-offered for Turkey to become a member of the EU stand up to close scrutiny. At the end of the day, in absence of some countervailing argument, it seems to this diplomatic observer that Brussels, et. al., would be much better off, in concentrating on future membership of countries which are reliably European in origin, and, which come with none of the geopolitical baggage that Ankara does. Such as Ukraine and Belorussia. They and not Turkey, one of the homes of 'Oriental Despotism', par excellence far more deserve EU consideration.

William Gladstone for one would be pleased.


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