Monday, October 03, 2005

Should Turkey be allowed to join the EU? I think so. Turkey is probably the most progressive Islamic nation in the world. By allowing Turkish entry into the EU, Turkey would set an example to other Islamic countries. It would also put the focus of the world on Turkey itself to strive for further modernisation in the future. At the same time, the negotiations are also starting to smell of elitism, with some people protesting that Turkey does not live upto 'European ideals'. It is clear that there need to be considerable social reforms based on religion in many economic, social, and political spheres in Turkey. But that does not mean that European nations, or for that matter, the US, are immune from religious biases. Maybe they are not as pronounced, and maybe they are not so blatant, but they still do exist. One only needs to take a look at the last US election, or the current structure of the US polity, to see the informal influence that conservative Christians have in the nation. I don't think the situation is much different in Europe or even in 'secular' countries. Compared to many other Islamic countries, Turkey seems to want genuine modernisation. I remember reading that among Islamic countries, it has the highest output of scientific publications in the world. And I think the point about being a role model for other Islamic countries is a very important one, especially in these ages when most Islamic countries are fundamentalist models to others.
On a different note, as someone fiercely egalitarian asked, "What's the big deal about the EU anyway?"


Blogger Sumeet said...

Hmm...sounds like the usual leftist argument (a.k.a. terror apologist argument ;-) )
I used to think similarly a till a few months ago, but I took a rightward deviation (minus the associated religious dogmas of course). This is obviously a huge subject and a major election issue in Germany with all the Turkish immigrants, and I always feel inadequately informed, which I am. But from whatever I have managed to read, I am less than convinced of the argument that a "European Turkey" will actually serve as a good role model. There are several other issues which have been widely discussed, and I agree with the following:
- Turkey is historically and culturally too "different". If you look at the EU as a "nation" with an identity, Turkey shares nothing with it, neither geographically, nor historically, nor culturally. Merely fulfilling democratic and economic accession criteria and being physically abutting the continent does not qualify enough. The boundaries of the EU would then reach the Middle East, and you can take it from there.
- I agree that Turkey (like Malaysia or Egypt) is a progressive Islamic state, but I have also read that most of the priniciples of freedom, democracy, education and secularism are not part of an endogenous process of change in thought through which minds have been set free, but more of "manufactured freedom/secularim/..." as the popular expression goes.
- The military is too strong, and this strength is essentially what enforces democracy in Turkey, which is certainly not desirable. In other words, the outcomes are positive and promising, but the process behind them dubious.
Obviously, none of the points above is characteristic of a "european" country, despite the similarities in outcomes.
- There are so many issues which need to be sufficiently addressed...the Armenian genocide for instance. Also, since Turkey does not recognise Cyprus as a nation, and Cyprus is part of the EU, it effectively does not recognise the EU itself in entirety!!

Regarding incentives for Turkey to modernise itself as you put it, don't you think a process of reform should start from within and be the end in itself? Why should a country need the EU carrot to reform itself? Is that not a warning in itself?

As for the question: What's the big deal about the EU anyway?...
Entry to the EU for a "poor" country like Turkey can't be anything but a it trade benefits, free movement of labour, people and capital, and hugely important - the EU subsidies. As it is, there are millions of Turkish immigrants in Europe, especially Germany, and not all immigrants are welcome there..for good reasons. A huge proportion of those are known to form and live in ghettos, and form parallel societies with separate laws (mostly oppressive towards women and supressing freedoms), and reject the local national laws completely. In other words, not all immigrants add value to Europe, and in many ways take away value from free societies. It goes without saying that they are also potential breeding grounds and "base camps" for terrorists. How big of a risk is it to allow free movement of money and people between Turkey and today's Europe, a lot of which we know is not going to be purely mutually beneficial trade or business? Besides the question whether Turkey is intrinsically similar to Europe, the question should be whether the world is ready to take the risk

8:34 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

That is a MAMMOTH comment! Thanks. Let me get back to you after consulting with my Turkish friend (I am waiting for him to get back to me)

7:08 AM  

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