I have to pay a pending debt with you. A few weeks ago I said that when leaving Turkey I’d talk about their entrance into Europe. I’ve was about to try and skiver it to see if you realised but finally here I am telling you something about It.
The question is; Is Turkey prepared to get into Europe? My answer is nearly. And I think that’s what it means “enter” Europe, if they were ready, they would already be members. I’ve talked with many travellers about this topic and all agree that they are very close, people that has been in Romania say that it’s a lot poorer and they are already in the union, so, being 100% ready seems not to be the key point.
The entrance of Turkey has a few faces, on one side you expand into a huge market of over 70 million people, on the other you have a competitor, and this is one of the important topics, by 2020 it’ll be the country with the largest population having more euro-representatives, this will make other countries like Germany and France to loose some power in the union.
Turkey has made enormous improvements relating to human rights, and even though it is used as excuse(Kurds and Cyprus issues) it seems this is not a point of decision to get in or not to get in.
Seems there is only one point open, religion. This is the topic that the non experts focus their discussions on. Does Europe want a Muslim country? To clarify here, the first is that it is a secular country, the second is that yes, it has a Muslim majority. But religion is lived in a “light”, moderated way same as the rest of Europe lives religion. Also religion is loosing strength from the point of view that youngsters don’t pay that much attention to it and practice it less.
What should we do with this country hungry of europeanization? The easy and comfortable solution is to say that we are different and that we can’t get together, each one in it’s own way. If we don’t understand each other, why see each other?
The difficult solution is to understand each other, looking for the common things(It’s a Mediterranean country having a lot in common with other European countries) and search for the common cultures. Yes, I say try because maybe even accepting them, even stepping forward to understanding the big differences can be to much and we can coexist making true that it’s impossible and it’s better we live apart, in this way at least we’d know for sure, we had tried.
Both options have advantages and disadvantages. Even we live in a globalize world at the end each individual, each country in this case needs to identify itself with a similar entity. If Europe rejects Turkey it will search for other “friends” and this may be the most important topic, from the first time I came to Turkey six years ago the country has improved dramatically growing at 11% every year, it’s a country that self provides food, is building highways every where and you can breath modernization, if it continues getting better at this pace it will become a power and if we are not it’s “friend” it has other pretenders. With it’s geopolitical situation it has plenty to choose from.
It can be-friend Russia, which seems it is again extending it’s tentacles, not only to it’s lost ex-republics but also to new countries. It can join Iran, Iraq and Syria, with the religious bind, the bad part for Europe here is that a neighbour country may become more radical Muslim wich wouldn´t be good. As a last option it could fall under Chinese hands that tries to grow in all direction. Any of these partnerships means that Europe would not grow while it’s competitors would, and that’s one of the reasons why the European Union exists, to be competitive. Seems that the only “player” that doesn´t want to grow is Europe, meaning that incomparison it would become even smaller.
Not being someone’s friend means nearly being an enemy. Europe now has an energy dependence over Russia via the pipeline that brings gas from the middle east and central Asia. The new pipeline Nabucco that goes via Turkish ground would eliminate that dependency from Russia, well only if we are Turkish “friends“.
If Ataturk had lived longer(he had a very pro European thinking, made Turkey a secular country, changed the calendar to the same as Europe, stopped using the Arab writing, changed the dressing to European, allowed women to vote and be voted…) they probably would be in Europe but as he didn’t the debate is still open. When Spain entered the EU we were much less ready than what Turkey is now. Turkey is making very big efforts to get closer to Europe, but any day they’ll get tired, each time Europe rejects them it’s a humiliation and one day they’ll accept an offer from the other side of the world.
At the same time there are people who think ‘How can anyone want to enter the European Union now with all the problems going on in it? Turkey asked to enter in 1956 and until very recently their request has not been formally accepted. Croatia, the other country with an approved request, seems to be less interested to enter every time because of the delay in the EU answer.
This may reflect that Europe is in crisis, maybe helped by the economical crisis, maybe because it is time to doubt and find itself. England proposes a free commerce model in which countries like Turkey would fit. France and Germany, the countries that have put more effort historically into the EU idea, aim for a more complete union, in more aspects than the economical, a more “beautiful” union that Europe seems not to assimilate. Maybe it’s already too heterogeneous between northern Europe, southern Europe and eastern Europe.
If you are thinking that I’m avoiding a Yes or No answer you are right, I don’t know enough about economics, macro economics and history to give an answer but I wanted to show you another point of view not just adding a Muslim country or not.
Maybe we just need to make the effort of understanding, maybe it’s good to be cautious, the typical European position. Maybe Europe needs to know what she wants, or it will be like getting a musician for a music group before knowing if the group is going to play jazz or rap.
Maybe it’s not the moment, maybe it’s not the ideal partner, but the world is not ideal. Maybe admitting them is not the best, but maybe it’s better than not admitting them. Or not.
Robert Schuman, the proclaimed Father of Europe, said 60 years ago: “Europe will not be made at once, nor according to a single master plan of construction. It will be built by concrete achievements, which create de facto dependence, mutual interests and the desire for common action.”