Joschka Fischer, visiting Ankara, comes out strongly for (eventual) Turkish accession to the EU, reports the S?ddeutsche:
Europa werde ?einen hohen Preis? daf?r zahlen, wenn es die T?rkei aus der Europ?ischen Union heraushalten wolle. F?r Europas Sicherheit sei die T?rkei wichtiger als ein ?Raketenabwehrsystem?…
[Europe will pay a high price if it wants to keep Turkey out of the European Union. For European security, Turkey is more important than a missile defence system]
But there are not a few hurdles in the way. In an interview with H?rriyet, the German foreign minister noted that, in Germany as well as other EU lands, there are ‘rational as well as emotional objections’ to a Turkish accession, and that these will need some serious wrestling.
Some of these objections are rational indeed. Cyprus is an obvious and painful sore thumb. And, though Turkey seems to have improved somewhat in recent years, its human rights record needs a bit of burnishing to bring it up to EU standard. (And I’d have thought the prospect of eventual EU membership a great big fat carrot in that regard.)
Given such rational objections, I think it clear that an invitation to Turkey to join tomorrow would be premature. But Turkey can work with the EU to remove those objections.
It is the irrational objections that annoy me. And these, I suspect, are not objections to Turkey joining now but joining ever.
The objection that only a small smidgen of Turkey is actually in Europe may be waved aside with a laugh. That is the argument of those who triumphantly point out that Ireland sticks up farther north than Northern Ireland (or Virginia farther west than West Virginia).
But the more serious ‘emotional’ objections boil down merely to bigotry. In Germany, the right-wing Union parties think Turkey too, em, different to belong to the EU. One suspects they’d be more amenable to the idea, if only the Turks were Christian, and less swarthy.
But it’s called the ‘European Union’, not the ‘European Christian Union’. Europe is not Christendom. It is a post-Christian place in which a good number of people remain, to a greater or lesser degree, Christians. In the same way, Turkey is not Islamic, though most Turks are (to a greater or lesser degree) Muslims.
Squint your eyes a bit so the confessional differences blur. In this light, Turkey and Europe start to look much the same: secular polities that leave a lot of room for individual religious belief. (Indeed, one could argue that European nations are more solicitous of the religious freedom of Muslims than is Turkey; or at least one could have done, before a number of European governments began recently to shriek in horror at the sight of a hijab.)
Yes, there are devout Muslims in Turkey, and some of them have views that don’t quite square with modernity. But then one may easily enough find Bavarian backwoodsmen who still have the Syllabus of Errors written in their hearts; that is no reason to expel Germany into the utter void. Squint your eyes, as I say, and those who dislike secularism and pluralism start to look very much alike, whether they be Germans or Turks. And secular, pluralist democracies can tolerate them, even leave them free to live and believe as they wish.
Those Europeans who cannot put the Battle of Lepanto behind them ought to reflect that the current member states have done pretty well at leaving behind the Battle of Verdun. And that, in a way, is the point of the exercise.