Thorny Turkish Issue #3: If You Mix Turkey into Europe, Will It Curdle?

I’m wrapping up my take on three thorny Turkish issues. (For the Turkish perspective on the “Armenian Holocaust” and the Kurdish question, see my last two posts.)

Today’s topic: Turkey in the EU.

Governments, corporations, people…so often, they all have a different agenda. That goes for Turkish membership in the European Union, too. Here’s what I picked up last month in Istanbul from Turkish friends:

Though more than 75 percent of Turkish people oppose joining the European Union, the Turkish government and Turkish corporations are making a strong drive to join the EU.

The idea of being a member of a union where nearly 30 member states are represented by a 15-star flag makes skeptical Turks think of the EU as a club of “elites,” where some are more “equal” than the others.

Turks who oppose EU membership are concerned about what they see as European double standards on economics, social issues, and ethnic diversity. Though one of the main assets of being an EU member is free circulation of each member’s citizens throughout Europe, this right will apparently not be granted to Turkish citizens even if the EU accepts Turkey as a member.

To help pave the way to EU membership, since 1995 Turkey has been pressured into allowing EU countries to export their products to Turkey duty-free. But many Turkish products destined for Europe are still restricted by EU quotas.

Though Turkey is a secular state (as required by its constitution), Europe insists on considering it a Muslim nation. Europeans — mindful of the challenges Europe already faces with its Muslim minority — are concerned about admitting into their union a Texas-size country with 75 million people, 90 percent of whom are practicing Muslims.

The “400-pound gorilla in the room” is Europe’s demographic shift. The Continent’s declining birth rate is making it an old folks’ continent. Europeans know that if their population is not infused with fresh immigrant blood, it will start to wither away. But the inability of white Europe and its Muslim minorities (currently 10 percent of the Continent’s population) to assimilate comfortably is a serious problem that won’t just disappear.

It’s no wonder that both Europeans and Turks are split on whether Turkish membership is in their best interests.

What do I think? I can understand Europe being reluctant to suddenly admit such a culturally different group which overnight would amount to nearly one-fifth of its total population.

I also think Turkey would do more good looking east rather than west. Potentially, it can be such a positive link between Christendom and Islam. Geopolitically, I believe the world would be better off if Turkey — which tends to be “Western,” democratic, and moderate — didn’t turn its back on the troubled Middle East and the “-Stans” beyond (opting for the affluence and stability of being a member of the EU), but worked as a leader within its own ethnic, linguistic, and religious world.


16 Replies to “Thorny Turkish Issue #3: If You Mix Turkey into Europe, Will It Curdle?”

  1. Again, Rick, I thank you for your honesty & a perception that may make people feel a tad uncomfortable. Did I mention you so ROCK? You have, yet again, presented an issue worth delving into….

  2. People complain that I emphasize the fact that a country consists of a border and a culture, and they can not imagine why I am so much against multiculturalism.

    My concern with multiculturalism is that it often destroys a culture. That does not mean that some country where people live in shacks, and have little to eat, and no good jobs, cannot adopt cultural items to improve their country.

    Eggs, Milk, Flour, and Butter are each special items (cultures), and if you combine 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 Eggs, a 1/2 cup of a Milk, a tablespoon of Butter, and a sprinkle of salt, you have created the wonderful new “Culture” of Noodles.

    But if you combine 2 1/2 cups of eggs, 2 cups Milk, a tablespoon of flour, and a 1/2 cup of salt, you have not only created a mess, you have eliminated the original culture of flour, milk, butter, and salt.

    Just to combine cultures willy-nilly, completely eliminates the original culture, and results in something else, mostly a total mess.

  3. This morning’s news is that Italy is seeking to expel Romanian immigrants after a Romanian brutally attacked a Roman woman. The mayor of Rome is saying that 75% of violent crime in his city is caused by immigrants from Romania. The Italian people support this mass expulsion. Crime in Italy committed by Romanians has the Italians fed up. Newspaper reports are that many members of the EU are sorry they admitted Romania too quickly into the EU and that the right of EU citizens to move freely among countries is in political jeopardy. If EU members are becoming disgruntled with a united Europe, Turkey’s hopes of entering are dimmer and dimmer.

  4. Jim, that is a very interesting analogy. I tend to be very open to Latin American immigration in the US, but after reading Rick’s entry I can understand better the concerns of any concern accepting a large influx of members whose culture is foreign. I will say though that there is a much greater difference between Muslim and European culture than there is between US and Latin American culture.

  5. That the population pyramid in a certain developing region will loose its traditional shape, many children and few old people is unavoidable. It is not a problem. The remedy is not to import labour (you import people not labour). In France muslims have a nativity rate that exceeds that of the French people by a factor 3. Moreover the prospect of integration is very slim. Multiculturalism is a dead end. Western values should prevail. No honour killings, female and male circumcision, ritual muslim killings etc. Ozal had said almost 30 years ago, “We do not have to attack Europe in order to take it! It will fall by itself to our multitudes”. If we accept that our children will change name to Recep and Aishe, how long is it going to take before their children are named Meng, Liu, Lee? It is a stupid idea! The Turks back in Turkey and let them get civilized and wealthy by their own work!

  6. Thanks Rick and EU Citizen for giving us an insight into how those in the cultures / countries involved feel about this issue. It’s nice to get an insiders perspective. EU Citizen – I wonder if you feel your attitude is representative of the majority? Rick thanks again for the great blog!

  7. Jill, my attitude is not politically correct! Practically no-one uses so blunt formulations, at least in public, as I did. But both the anonymity of the internet and even the many instances of detestable crimes by muslims have allowed many people to speak out! There is no public survey that will ask a question like “Do you consider muslim civilization inferior to the Western?” or something like that. But in my country people are changing attitude. Definitely not favorable any longer towards foreigners, especially muslims! Scientifically speaking, every nation has a constraint on the population that can live on its soil under conditions worthy a westerner! I find Holland and Belgium overpopulated! Even Planet Earth is overpopulated by humans!

  8. Regarding Turkish membership in the EU, I think the EU is like a young man who has asked a girl to marry him and then has second thoughts. It’s a very awkward situation. Having talked to a lot of Europeans about it, my sense (unscientific) is that a majority of normal, respectable Europeans are very sceptical about Turkish membership. Austrians (like Italians in Kath’s post) are already attributing increased crime to Romanians and other easterners recently admitted into the union. (Vienna still has a ridiculously low crime rate.) Austria recently paid to have a prison built in Romania to ship criminals back to. The perenial far right candidate in Vienna (HC Stracher) runs on an anti-immigrant platform. “Vienna should not become Istanbul” was his slogan last year. He usually gets about 10% or so of the vote. But concern about being flooded by low wage Turks is by no means only for far right types, though they are trying to use the issue to broaden their base.

  9. At the end of 2006, 5,888 people were interned in Swiss prisons. 31 per cent were Swiss citizens – 69 per cent were foreigners or asylum-seekers.

    I am the original isolationist and nationalist — no Korean War, no Vietnam, Iraq, or any other war since WW II, when it was obvious help was needed, for a good reason.

    Over 50 years ago I visited the United Nations HQ twice, at Flushing Meadows, NY, before the UN building was built in NYC. I don’t know who I talked to, it may have been the janitor, but I asked that all immigration be stopped, worldwide. If you were born there, you stay there.

    Except for one thing, Invitation. If a country asks you to come, you can, but you have two or three years to eliminate all signs of your previous culture, and completely adopt the culture of the country you went to, or out you go.

    I think the word Multiculturalism is a misspelling. I think it should be Murderculturalism, as it destroys culture, it does not develop a culture.

  10. Read the Peter Hitchins column in today’s Daily Mail. He for one is very uneasy about not having a British passport anymore but having an EU passport. He had no more right to enter Britain, his home, than a Lithuanian. I’m reading more and more about how queasy Britains, Italians, etc. are about not being Britains or Italians anymore but EU. The countries that declined to enter the EU may have been the smartest after all.

  11. To Kath, Romanians share a common ancestry with the Italians, and for years more than half a million have been assimilating into the Italian society, taking jobs that Italians don’t want, i.e. manual labour, elderly care.

    Please don’t confuse ethnic Romanians with the Roma people (gypsies). There are about 15 million Roma in Europe and less than 10% of them cite Romania as country of origin. The alleged killer in the case mentioned by Kath is an ethnic Roma. It is unfair to victimize a whole nation for the acts of a single individual.

    On this message board there is dissatisfaction with the speed and results of integrating new immigrants in aging societies. Italy’s dysfunctional immigration system forces a lot of people into the underground economy. Italians unlikely know how many immigrants they have. No EU country has been successful at integrating the Roma in centuries. A common approach within EU is better than denial punctuated by explosions of xenophobia.

  12. While in Italy last month, our van of 7 Americans was stopped by the Carabinieri at a rural road intersection “roadblock”. They checked our rental van papers and asked a few questions and let us proceed. Turns out they were checking for illegal aliens. We wondered why we can’t do the same thing in the US? Also, had to admire the cute 9mm submachine gun the non-talking officer was carrying.

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