Turks snubbing arranged marriage with EU?

The excellent Dutch weblog Sargasso has an entry on Turkish cult novelist Burak Turna, whose latest book The Third World War or Üçüncü Dünya Savasi is turning into a regular best-seller in Turkey. One quote from Turna, taken from the International Herald Tribune:

”Turks are waking up to two facts,” Turna said at a café near Istanbul’s bustling Taksim Square, where he was greeted like a rock star by young fans. “One is that everything told to the Turkish people by EU leaders is lies. Two, that a Muslim country will never get into an EU that doesn’t want us”.

Fair enough. However, in his novel The Third World War Turna acts out Turkish feelings of anti-EU resentment in the following way:

The year is 2010 and the European Union has rejected Turkey. Fascist governments have come to power in Germany, Austria and France and are inciting violence against resident Turks and Muslims. A vengeful Turkey joins forces with Russia and declares war against the EU. Turkish commandos besiege Berlin, obliterate Europe and take control of the Continent.

Apparently the EU is not as popular and appealing as some of us would like to think. It may be a good idea to re-read AFOE’s entry A Slice of Turkey and the accompanying text in the New York Times:

A poll by the E.U.’s Eurobarometer service showed only 35 percent of Europeans favoring Turkish accession. So now, on the eve of negotiations, European politicians are looking for a face-saving way to leave Turkey at the altar. The French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, spoke out in favor of delaying talks unless Turkey recognized the Greek part of Cyprus, which Turkey sees as a new condition. Germany’s Christian Democrat leader, Angela Merkel, asked Turkey to be content with a “privileged partnership” rather than member status. It is not likely that Turks will consider that prize worth the self-abasement. Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told The Economist: “Should they propose anything short of full membership or any new conditions, we will walk away. And this time it will be for good.”

I do not feel like rehashing all our arguments pro and contra Turkey’s possible entry into the EU, but we should keep in mind that the Turkish people are quite capable of having their own opinions on the matter. And we should listen. Somehow it all reminds me of an arranged marriage:

In some countries, even in so advanced a nation as Japan today, young people often ask for an arranged marriage. They say to themselves: I am so blinded by feeling now, I cannot really know what the other party is like. There is even a saying, in the U.S.: “You marry a stranger”. So they ask the older people to arrange. Legitimate use of sex can and will generate love in an arranged marriage.

I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure out who the older people in this scenario would be and what kind of sex would make both the EU and Turkey happy. Burak Turna is also the author of the best-selling Metal Storm in which Turkey ends up nuking Washington DC.

22 thoughts on “Turks snubbing arranged marriage with EU?

  1. So, where then are the pro-E.U. novels in which an E.U.-army invades the United States and throws over the fascist Bush-Empire?
    What Euro-nationalism is to counter this?

  2. Isn’t this a bit like trying to guess US government policy by interviewing Tom Clancy?

    Um, that is. You know what I mean.

    Doug M.

  3. “Isn’t this a bit like trying to guess US government policy by interviewing Tom Clancy?”

    It is not so much about “guessing policy” as it is about “measuring mood”, a mood that may or may not guide policy. The fact that Turna’s book has turned into a best-seller does say something about how a number of Turkish people see EU-Turkey relations. As the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution showed, it could be important to “gauge moods” as well. Vox populi and all that 🙂

  4. Well, it certainly does say something about the cognitive processes of the average Turk. Mass murder of millions of civilians, be they American in Metal Firtina or European in Ucuncu Dunya Savasi, are seen as legitimate and heroic reactions to slights against the honor of “the great Turkic nation.” And both books are best sellers over there, of course.

    And maybe this intermeshes with another one of those lovely anomalous little aspects of Turkish culture – it’s steadfast refusal to even acknowledge the 1915 Armenian Holocaust. Perhaps it’s not a difficulty with the existential nature of the act that they’re grappling with – maybe they simply believe it was morally justified?

  5. What can we infer from the “rapture” series best-sellers in the USA?

    I feel that Sephiroth is expressing more its ignorance than anything else. After all there are Germans negationists, and Turks are not even mostly Turkic.


  6. So, where then are the pro-E.U. novels in which an E.U.-army invades the United States and throws over the fascist Bush-Empire?

    From The Might of Persuasion by David Spuke:

    … As his eyes scanned the forest of outstretched hands, Pierre van Gruebbengraagh held his breath. How improbable it seemed only a month ago that Americans would accept the resolutions of the general assembly as binding. Yet in the end they could do nothing against his pincer maneuvre, executed to perfection by the Belgian and Finnish negotiating teams. He exhaled. Now that all immigrants from the Mayflower and until the end of time have been declared illegal settlers under international law, the voting strength of the US under the new constitution would fall just short of Slovenia’s. Van Gruebbengraagh knew that Agnieszka has made it abundantly clear to the Nader administration: no EU membership would be in sight until the last gun owner is handed over to the Hague for rehabilitation. Despite their pitiful ifs and buts, even the nationalists at the Pentagon understood well that they had no choice…

  7. “What can we infer from the “rapture” series best-sellers in the USA?”

    That North America is a predominately Christian land. What else is it supposed to signify.

    “I feel that Sephiroth is expressing more its ignorance than anything else. After all there are Germans negationists, and Turks are not even mostly Turkic.”

    Before you carelessly slander others with accusations of “ignorance” it might be a bit wise to check some of your own “facts.” Firstly, your comparision between Germany and Turkey is facile: Turkey’s negationist position on the Armenian Holocaust is enforced by the power of the state (and also sponsored by the state, search for “Bernard Lewis Trial”) whereas German negationists are a few isolated fringe elements. You may as well argue that South Africa under Botha was morally comparable to America and Europe since, after all, they had racists living there as well.

    “and Turks are not even mostly Turkic.”

    Funny, last time I checked the majority ethnicity of that state was (~72%) Anatolian Turkish, whereas ~28% were Kurds, Lazis, and a few Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Sephardi Jews, etc. So, again, your “facts” which you use to demonstrate my “ignorance” are completely incorrect.

  8. @Michael: Wow…I need to read this book! 🙂

    “The cognitive processes of the average Turk”

    Nationalism sells, but not only in Turkey, also in Croatia, where history teachers are under pressure to teach about the heroic battles they fought for independance, instead of the brutal slaughtering that went on their, for which ppl are still on trial.

  9. That most Turks speak a Turkic language has little to do with their “turkicity”.


  10. From an earlier post from Sephiroth, “I’m sorry but this is just so obvious that I shouldn’t have to argue this. Show me a Greek with epicanthic folds, then we’ll debate.

    And no Europeans that I’ve ever met consider Turks to be part of their race, anyway.”

    Why would epicanthic folds matter? And are Europeans aware of the many races they would have to be divided to be able to claim that Turks are not of the same “race”.

    You should read Cavalli-Sforza.


  11. “What can we infer from the “rapture” series best-sellers in the USA?”

    Umm, a pretty accurate depiction of the way the US government behaves?
    Support of Israel no matter what. Check.
    An attempt to bring Christianity to the Middle East (thinly disguised as an attempt to bring Democracy to the region). Check.
    A feeling that looming disasters like global warming and oil peak don’t really matter because god will intervene to save us (or at least the righteous. Check.

    I mean, didn’t you see the most recent Harriet Miers justification? This woman supposedly should be on the Supreme Court not because of any particular abilities but because she is a good Christian (and presumably will toe the good Christian line on all relevant cases). And this is the justification provided by GWB, the US president, not by random bloggers.

  12. I was surprised that anti-EU demonstrations in Turkey were so large. It would appear that Burak Turna isn’t alone. In any case, there is a long way to go before the final decision is reached on Turkish entry, and much can change in the intervening period.

  13. I am, in fact, Turkish, and Burak Turna is just a novelist – fiction that is.


    Many people in Turkey, like others in different countries, like reading political fiction, but that doesn’t mean that the views represented by Turna are those of the majority.

    Nor does that mean that all his readers take fiction seriously.

  14. “Many people in Turkey, like others in different countries, like reading political fiction, but that doesn’t mean that the views represented by Turna are those of the majority. Nor does that mean that all his readers take fiction seriously.”

    Indeed. As per this quote (see link at the end of the entry about Metal Fury, emphasis mine):

    “But Metal Storm can hardly be blamed for creating “anti-Americanism” among the Turks. Rather, the fact that the book is so popular should be seen as more of a rare barometer of not only public opinion but also imagination. After all, if people didn’t love high-firepower, cloak-and-dagger geopolitical thrillers, how could authors from Ian Fleming to John Le Carré to Tom Clancy have made industries out of their works? No one thinks twice when the enemies in such a book (the Western “good guys” are always a given) happen to be dastardly Soviets or North Koreans, Arabs or Cubans or whoever. And, if the reader also finds works in which their nation is an actor more relevant, why shouldn’t the Turkish imagination be struck by a book which features their own country?”

  15. Re. “The Might of Persuasion by David Spuke” novel on EU power referred to above.

    I can find no reference to this on Amazon or Google. Can you provide a ISBN or more details about this book so that I can track it down?

  16. Ah, the novel in progress…

    I am reminded that I should read Andrew Roberts’ Aachen Memorandum. (It’s not meant to be very good.)

  17. Guy:

    You do realize that your quote is actually an implicit critique, not support, of socioeconomic’s comment? He was asserting that Burak’s texts were not representative of Turkish discourse whereas you claimed that, indeed, they were in fact quite reflective of it.


    Why were you suprised? Even mainstream Turkish broadsheets (Cumhurriyet, Milliyet, Hurriyet, etc.) are filled to the brim with anti-European and, in equal quantity, anti-American (and anti-Armenian even more so) paranoia. You should check it some time. Reality is never as beautiful as fantasy.


    Again, I don’t want to talk about genetics. It doesn’t matter what Luigi Cavalli Sforza’s books say – race qua genetics is irrevelvant to the topic at hand. I was talking about ethnicity as cultural practice and descent, and not about such irrelevancies as primary haplotypes and mitochordrial groups. Why do these matter again?

  18. Sephiroth: Yes, I do realize that. And you are right that the quote can cut both ways.

    But I agree with socioeconomics that Burak’s popularity does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the majority of Turks. My original entry does not prove that, nor does socioeconomics’ comment disprove it.

    The quote I gave in response to his comment can serve as an additional element in understanding Burak’s popularity.

  19. Talking about Turks and writers of fiction. A very good reason to question the viability of including Turkey in the EU relates to the peculiar and disturbing fate of one Orhan Pamuk.

    Pamuk is arguably one of the most famous Turkish writers and in 1999 was offered the title of “state artist” – an honor the writer refused. This “honor” was really an attempt to silence Pamuk and essentially buy him off, because the author has been a loud and vociferous critic of the Turkish government.

    Pamuk has stated publicly that thirty thousand Kurds have been killed during the Turkish push against Kurdish separatists. Pamuk also asserts that one million Armenians were killed in Turkey by Ottoman forces between 1915 and 1917.

    Such comments by the writer has placed him in the line of fire, not only from government officials, but also from Turkish ultranationalists, who have actually threatened to kill him.

    On September 1 of this year Pamuk was indicted by a district prosecuter for the crime of having “blatantly belittled Turkishness”. This is incredible. Such an indictment would seem more appropriate during the medieval period, to be followed post haste by public stoning or ritual immolation on the stake.

    How in the name of God do Turks intend to assimilate with the a larger European society predicated on freedom of expression when they practice this type of primitive justice and attempt to shut the mouth of a man of such genuine literary stature?

    Such an indictment reflects the presence of a deep streak of extreme nationalism that verges at times, to be frank, on fascism. Consider the abuse that Michael Moore has heaped upon the head of Bush, in both oral and visual form. While many Americans and Europeans find this repulsive, it is quite another thing to prosecute Moore for his views.

    There perhaps needs to be a social revolution in Turkey before they enter into a union with Europe. Despite the fact that Turkey has ratified both the UN and European covenants on human rights, this country persists – like some remnant of the Ancien Regime – in imposing an archaic penal code and subjecting artists to the worst type of human rights abuses. This is frankly disgraceful, and speaking as an artist, I have no desire whatever to embrace a country that refuses to confront this profound injustice.

    According to International PEN records and the statements of Salman Rushdie, more than 50 writers, journalists and publishers presently are awaiting trial.

    In my opinion, Turkey is only presenting a “cosmetic face” to the West in hopes of leveraging an arrangement that will prove economically advantageous. The EU however is about a lot more than economics – it is about shared values, and most importantly the respect for human rights and the freedom of artists to express their opinions without fear or censure.

    As matters stand, I for one have no wish whatever to see Turkey become a member of the larger democratic community in Europe.

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