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The Corner

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Turkey and the EU



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Andrew McCarthy has a piece on possible Turkish membership of the EU up on the homepage, very well worth reading in many respects, but not least for this observation:

In Turkey, the administrators of the Kemalist governmental model — comprising Muslims who understood Islam intimately — suppressed Islam not to deny freedom of conscience but to enable it. They were trying to forge exactly the sort of secular civil society Europeans revere. They knew it could not coexist with sharia. Thus, the government assumed supervision of the country’s 80,000 mosques, vetted the imams, controlled the content of sermons and literature, and aggressively monitored the Islamic charities. The Muslims running the state realized that Islam would inevitably work against secular civil society if left to its own devices.

If you want to understand why Mubarak’s approach in Egypt (political repression combined with the cession of large amounts of religio-social space to the imams) was, in the end, doomed to failure, that’s not a bad place to start. 

Andy explains how the incentive of eventual EU membership (forever being proffered, just out of reach, to the Turks) is being used to distort the (admittedly very far from perfect) Kemalist model in ways that could have very dangerous consequences.

But at least we can for be sure (at least for now) that the French and German political elites are enough in tune with their electorates (for now) to stop, as they should, Turkish accession.

With others the case is not so clear.

Here’s what Britain’s David Cameron had to say two years ago:

ANKARA – Prime Minister David Cameron said Tuesday he was angered by the slow pace of Turkey’s European Union accession talks and warned against shutting Ankara out because of anti-Muslim prejudice.

Cameron’s strong support for Turkey’s limping EU bid puts him in stark contrast to fellow EU heavyweights France and Germany who argue against letting the mainly-Muslim country of over 70 million people to become a full member.

Here’s part of what I wrote back at the time:

That Cameron blames the Franco-German stance on “anti-Muslim prejudice” is an argument of the intellectually desperate. Then again, what else does Cameron have? As so often, he has failed to grasp just how deep the EU’s federalizing project has already gone. Even if we ignore the phenomenal cost (of which cash-strapped British taxpayers would pay a disproportionate share) of such a scheme, admitting Turkey to the EU would give a country now led by genuinely popular Islamist thug a real say in the everyday lives of the British people. And then there are all those other things that would go with Turkish membership in the EU, such as, oh, the ability of a Turkish court to order the arrest and extradition of a British citizen from the UK to a Turkish jail with little or no judicial review. So much for Cameron, protector of civil liberties.

Oh, there’s also this (reported by the BBC in 2009):

Mr Obama also said Washington supported Turkey’s efforts to join the EU.

Smart diplomacy!



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