Western Allies we shall always remain an outcast; they insist to keep
seeing us as the barbaric, raiding Turk. To them, we are the
thundering horsemen they have learned to shun.”
Horseman," a novel by Kristina
The more Turkey can be put in the role
of "The Other," the easier can all the many prejudicial beliefs
regarding the Turks be accepted... which certainly goes against looking for
the unifying concepts among the family of Man, so that we can all live as much
as possible in brotherhood. That doesn't mean Japan, for example, should be
considered a European country, but if a country is on European soil, has had
long centuries of European history, has cities practically indistinguishable
from those in Europe, and has their own people constituting large chunks of
the populations of other European nations, anyone who chooses to regard Turks
as being from outer space is being just a touch too snippety. (Granted,
European chauvinism doesn't only apply to Turks... Western Europeans sniff at
the "European-ness" of Eastern Europeans; but at least there is one
unifying force between all these nations... their religion.)
Turkey is unique. Turkey is the bridge
between East and West. This is why Turkey herself still suffers from an
identity crisis. However, because there are eastern elements within Turkey...
especially as one travels east... one cannot deny the western and European
element that is firmly implanted within the nation.
On this page, we will explore several
viewpoints, both pro and con. Let's begin with a leader of the Armenian
butt-kissing French, and at least give him credit for saying out loud what the
"Christian Club" of the Western European community believes, but
rarely declares openly. Lower, the excellent article written by Michael
Gonzalez — "Deconstructing Giscard" — lives up to the
promise of its title.
is not a European country, says Giscard
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the forthright chairman of the
Convention, has never been shy about putting forward his own views. This time, however, he
has caused more of a furor than usual. In an interview with four newspapers including Le
Monde and Handelsblatt, he stated "Turkey is not a European country, it
is a country that is situated near Europe." He went on to add that "its capital
is not in Europe and 95 per cent of its population live outside Europe."
It is for this reason that the Convention president is not expecting EU heads of state and
governments to give a clear signal to Turkey on the start of accession talks at the next
European Summit in December. The Frenchman's view runs contrary to the accepted position
of the fifteen member state, which have given encouraging signals to Turkey. Just last
Wednesday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the current head of the Council, said that "Turkey
must be treated like the other candidate countries."
Supporting Turkish membership is against the EU
Mr Giscard argues that supporters of Turkish EU
membership have a different agenda. "Those who have most pushed enlargement in
the direction of Turkey are the adversaries of the European Union." In reality,
they are hoping that this will put an end to European integration, he says.
The Convention chairman went on to criticise the current debate on Turkey. It should
not be about the democratic deficit in the country, he urges. Rather the question
should be: "Should the EU expand beyond the boundaries of Europe?"
picks up the pieces
Mr Giscard did not hold his normal after-convention press
conference on Friday. Jean-Luc Dehaene, the Convention vice-president was left to fend off
the press. He said he was sure that Mr Giscard was expressing his "personal
view." As to whether the president of a body debating the future of Europe should be
making such comment at all, he simply said "I wouldn't have done it." However,
he did concede that despite Mr Giscard's strong opinions on the matter, "deciding on
enlargement is not a competence of the Convention."
"Turkey part of
Europe for centuries"
A letter from the Turkish ambassador to the EU,
Oguz Demiralp, refutes the Frenchman's comments. "Turkey has been a part of
Europe since the tenth century." adding that "it is an unbreakable
connection." The letter went on to say that Turkey did not think the Union was
afraid of "opening" itself to diversity.
Mr Giscard's controversial comments caused raised eye brows elsewhere. The
Commission enlargement spokesman was forced to say that it was Mr Giscard's
"personal opinion" and the Commission cannot "ban" people from
expressing their opinion.
Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, who recently spoke out in support of
Turkey getting a date for starting accession negotiations, stuck to this position.
Turkey is an "important partner land" and the "door" should not
be closed to it, he said on Friday.
Press Articles Gazeta Jyllands-Posten Handelsblatt Le Monde
Holdwater: If geography
is a criteria for European consideration, where Turkey falls short because only 5%
of her land is in Europe (according to the
Frenchman), then why was Cyprus allowed into the EU, with 0%?
I wonder if Monsieur D'Estaing
felt the same way when he was a younger man in the late 40s and 1950s, in the heat
of the Cold War, with the bully-boy Soviets threatening to rampage through Europe's
gates, but sleeping more soundly thanks to tough big brother Turkey guarding their
flank? At that time, I have a feeling Giscard was more eager to kiss thrice Turkey's
cheeks, in true French style, making sure to not let Turkey forget she was one of
1878, a clergyman is quoted as having said:
"...The unspeakable Turk had ruined the
countries over which he had ruled and ... the Turks had no business in Europe
because the Turk was never properly Europeanized; he only pitched his tent in
During this period and later,
the most vocal support in North America for the Armenian cause, aside from the
Armenians themselves, came from Protestant clergymen. I don't know if the above is a
direct quote, but it doesn't matter... countless times, I've run into the exact same
idea by religious-minded Americans of the period (and later) — for example, the
author of "The Blight of Asia," U.S. consul George Horton, expresses the idea of
the Turks' "inadequacy" in the title of his book, itself). There must be a
connection between such trains of thought then, and contemporary European opinions,
as voiced by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. The European Union has been quick to include
most if not all the countries under the former communist regimes for membership
consideration, while Turkey (frequently vetoed by old buddy Greece over the years)
is still waiting in the wings, a candidate for full membership since 1964.
It is funny that even though
Turkey has definitely been "properly Europeanized" since 1878 (when she
was merely "The Sick Man of Europe"), especially after the
formation of the Turkish republic, the bigoted clergyman's views
still stand. And what's that about ruining
the countries the Turks had ruled? What a horribly unfair thing to say. If the
Turks had followed the European example of forcing their ways down the throats of
conquered nations, instead of following the humane "Millet" system, the Arab countries and half of Europe might
be speaking Turkish today.
(The Turks whose honor
and the dignity you have been pummeling and mauling lo these many years, were)
"...far better men and far abler rulers than the wretched tyrants whom
they suppressed....the Turks were in advance, not of their Christian subjects
alone, but of the greater part of Christian Europe."”
Edson L. Clark (1827-1913), British anthropologist and historian, from
his "Nations of the World" Series,1900, N.Y. (pp. 84,87.)
great Turk is governing in peace twenty nations from different religions.
Turks have taught the Christians how to be moderate in peace and gentle in
Philip Marshall Brown: "Despite
the great victory they won, Turks have generously granted to the people in the
conquered regions the right to administer themselves according to their own
rules and traditions"
Arnold Toynbee: “The Ottoman institution came perhaps as near as anything in
real life could to realizing the ideal of Plato’s Republic.”
"Paradoxical as it might
seem, the Turks were the only Christians in the Balkans."
correspondent," on his return "from the seat of the last Balkan
war," paraphrased by C.F. Dixon-Johnson, British author of the 1916 book,
PAPER SAYS TURKEY MUST ADMIT 1915 GENOCIDE BEFORE JOINING EU
A story published in German Die Welt daily December 2 (2002) says that “everyone (at least in Germany) is arguing about
whether Turkey may or should or even must become a member of the exclusive club of
Does Turkey belong to Europe culturally? Does not
Asia begin just beyond the Bosporus? What does "cultural" really mean? And what
is Europe anyway? I propose replacing the question "Does Turkey belong to
Europe?" with a different question, namely: "Does Turkey belong to the
West?" The West does not thereby mean a geographic position or a specific culture or
constitutional form. Rather the West is characterized by the fact that it continually
questions itself fundamentally.
Certainly liberal democracy is based primarily on parliamentary elections, separation of
powers and freedom of assembly. But all of these nice things are a mathematical function
of the capability of illuminating the dark, horrible, painful and tormenting events in
one's own history. That is particularly important for Turkey because it is hiding a mountain of bodies in its historical
cellar. In 1915, the Turks committed the first modern genocide, to which 1.5m men, women, and children fell victim. This
genocide is well documented. There are the
eyewitness reports from the German writer Armin
T. Wegener (sic), from the American ambassador Henry J. Morgenthau Sen., and from the Austrian military envoy
Pomiankowski. There are countless telegrams
that show the crime from the point of
view of the perpetrators. For a time after World War I, Turkey itself sought to punish the members of the regime
who coldly planned and executed the murder. It soon resorted to denial, however.
Basically this is absurd because legally the Turkish Republic bears no responsibility at
all for what its predecessors did. Nevertheless, to this day the official version in
Turkey insists that the genocide against the Armenians did not occur. The government's
version is that during World War I the Armenians undertook a rebellion with Russian
help and it was quashed. Massacres? Yes, certainly there were massacres
— the Armenians massacred the Turks. Thus, the
victims are killed again through lies.
Regardless of whether one speaks in an orthodox Freudian
way of a compulsion to repeat or in an old-fashioned way of the curse of the evil deed:
Turkey will not find inner peace as long as it denies the genocide. Certainly this country
has gained an impressive degree of freedom — religion and state are separate and there is
an elected parliament and even a halfway free press. But because the genocide against the
Armenians remains a taboo, there will always
be a temptation to resolve minority problems with the methods of the past. The Kurds can sing a sad song about this. If liberal
democracy is a fruit of the effort to look at one's own shame, then it will be a while
before it is harvest time in Turkey.
Holdwater: Apparently some
Germans still feel an incredible kinship with their fellow Aryans from the W.W.II days.
November 20, 2002
Eye on Europe
By MICHAEL GONZALEZ
Listen to the silence. It's as if Valery Giscard d'Estaing had just set off a
firecracker in the middle of a garden party and the other guests, after being
momentarily aghast, are all now trying to make believe that they can return to their
conversations. This newspaper and a few others such as the Times of London have
written strong editorials condemning Mr. Giscard's remark that Turkey "is not a
European country" and does not belong in the EU. But apart from that, the
silence from "official" Europe has been deafening.
The 76-year-old Mr. Giscard is hardly an enfant terrible, however, and his comments
should elicit a response, not just from politicians but from historians and others.
His contention that Turks cannot be trusted to make decisions affecting
"extremely sensitive points of a uniquely European daily life" is far from
a prank. Dismissing it as another facet of LePenism would not do either, however,
and a rebuttal should probe how well grounded his arguments are culturally and
historically. Mr. Giscard is president of the convention tasked with proposing a
constitution for the European Union, and he maintains that a majority in the EU
agrees with him. Unless the air is cleared, the smoke from his explosion will hang
in the air viciously.
We can start by going through all the criteria that the former French president may
have meant when he spoke to Le Monde two weeks ago — geographic, linguistic,
racial, religious, cultural, or economic — and see how strongly he stands on each.
As John Stuart Mill said, you haven't won the debate until you have refuted your
opponent's strongest arguments.
To start with the simplest, the linguistic argument can be quickly discarded.
Turkish is indeed not an "Indo-European" language. But then again, neither
are Finnish, Hungarian or Estonian, all of which, curiously, may be related to
Turkish in the Uralic-Altaic family of languages. Neither is Basque Indo-European.
Mr. Giscard can go and tell a Basque he is not a European if he wants to, but I
wouldn't recommend it.
The racial issue is more complicated, but also a loser. There are
always arguments as to what constitutes race, but advancements brought by the human
genome project have allowed geneticists to isolate certain conditions that are more
prevalent among certain peoples. These studies point to the existence of groupings
whose members share some characteristics, but they only leave us with the large ones
we learnt about in school: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and so forth. Turks are in
the first, sharing broad genetic characteristics with Europeans.
Even if your criteria for "race" is the one used in diversity recruitment
drives in Britain — whether someone is a "visible ethnic minority," or
VEM — it isn't certain that Turks would constitute a different group. There are
many blond, blue-eyed Turks, but even the swarthier ones could easily be Spaniards,
Greeks, Portuguese, Italians or even compatriots of Mr. Giscard. In truth, Turkey is
a complicated country racially, a legacy of the cosmopolitanism of the Ottoman
empire. The Central Asian Turkish strain in the national genetic pool is much
diluted by now.
"The Turks have a very heterogeneous gene pool," says Stanford University
geneticist Peter Underhill. "Ultimately we're all Africans, anyway, as we all
came out of Africa less than 100,000 years ago."
The geographic consideration, brought up by Mr. Giscard in his interview, would seem
to be the determining one for a regional grouping, but it is also tricky. It is true
that the majority of Turkey's territory lies in what the ancients used to call
"Asia Minor." But there's also a European part. And even at the other end
of its "Asian" component, Turkey is abutted by Christian, indubitably
European Georgia, which gave the rest of Europe one of its strongest bonds, the
culture of the vine.
On the matter of geographical dislocations, Mr. Giscard's own country also has
integral parts of it that are in the Caribbean or on the South American continent.
Again, Mr. Giscard is welcome to go and inform the good people of Martinique that
they are no longer part of the EU. Or he can tell the peoples of Malta and Cyprus
— the first off North Africa, the second wedged between the Turkish and Lebanese
coasts — that, no, they won't make it into the EU in two years after all.
Economically Turkey is doubtless behind Europe, having a $6,800 GDP per capita, or
less than a third of the EU average. But of course, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and
Greece also lagged the average when they joined. Three of them still do. Membership
brought them up.
Historically, too, Turkey played a central role in Europe while other empires —
China, Persia, India — were clearly foreign. Not for nothing was the Ottoman
Empire known in the 19th century as "the Sick Man of Europe."
Indeed, the more one looks at Mr. Giscard's contention the more one realizes that it
rests almost solely on the cultural-religious argument. Though many would want to
quickly dismiss this line of reasoning, especially in today's secularized,
increasingly de- Christianized Europe, it is here that one must battle the
The idea that Christianity formed Europe — more than geography, ethnicity and so
forth — is of old pedigree and cannot so easily be discarded. Before Mohammed there
was "Christendom" and little notion of Europe. It was the emergence of
Islam from the Arabian sands that made Europe fold back unto itself. The eminent
Belgian historian Henri Pirenne put it best when he wrote, "Charlemagne without
Mohammed would be inconceivable."
Even Voltaire, amongst many others, spoke about Europeans all sharing "the same
religious foundation." In our era, T.S. Eliot, in a radio broadcast to Germans
in 1945, expounded about "the common tradition of Christianity which has made
Europe what it is.
"It is in Christianity that our arts have developed; it is in Christianity that
the laws of Europe-until recently-have been rooted. It is against a background of
Christianity that all our thought has significance. An individual European may not
believe that the Christian Faith is true; and yet what he says and makes and does,
will all... depend on [the Christian heritage] for its meaning." (my Itals).
Very well, then, does this mean that Mr. Giscard is ultimately right? No, not
really. But it does mean that a response must address these issues. It could begin
by noting that the notion of "Europe" has moved throughout the centuries
and there's no reason it should remain static today. "We're building a new
Europe in the 21st century not in the 16th century," I was told by the
historian Norman Davies, who's delved in his books into the question of what it is
to be a European.
"Turkey has been Europeanized by Kemal (Ataturk, father of modern Turkey) and
it has been modeled on the European democracies," says Prof. Davies, bringing
up the all-important political consideration. Turkey, geographically and
historically in Europe, has made every effort to join up. What keeps it out,
religion? But that would be most un-Christian. "The principle of Christianity
is Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself," says Prof. Davies. "I see Europe as a
very diverse continent, and Islam is very much a part of the diversity. Just go to
London, or Paris," he adds.
There is, then, no clear definition of what is a European. (The Italian writer Luigi
Barzini included Americans, and so would I sometimes). But Mr. Giscard has thrown
down a gauntlet that must be picked up now by EU leaders and others.
I ran into a senior European official the other night at a hotel lobby here in
Brussels, and the subject soon came up. "Giscard is a p***k," he said
emphatically, adding that even if he had agreed with the convention president —
which he said he didn't — this was the worst time to say it, for geopolitical
reasons. It was all off the record, of course. But now is the time to start going on
Write to Michael Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org
Letter excerpt to "The Economist":
Your treatment of Turkey ("A general speaks his
mind", March 14th), while repeating same old EU-clichés about Turkey, adding
nothing new, speaks volumes about the centuries old "crusader mentality",
downgraded to "Christian Club" in the lst half of 20th century, which
seems to be the driving force behind EU's actions. And actions do speak louder than
Consider these, for example:
When Turkey signed on the European Common Market in 1962, Spain, Portugal, and
Greece were dictatorships. When Turkey applied for full membership in 1987,
the Soviet Bloc countries like Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and
Romania were still considered "the enemy". Now the first 3 are
about to enter the EU and the latter 2 are on their way. All of these
countries, even Cyprus and Malta and others, passed Turkey by, simply because they
were Christians. It seems, if you are Christian and you "breathe", you
are accepted. And if you are not Christian, you are not accepted "...even if
you can catch a bird with your mouth!" (A Turkish proverb).
While Turkey is asked to solve its problems with Greece over Aegean and Cyprus
before entering EU, Greece had never been asked to do the same. Doesn't it take two
When EU asks Turkey to lift the embargo on Armenia, the aggressor which ethnically
cleansed 1 million Azerbaijanis and still occupies 20% of Azerbaijan, the same EU
sees nothing wrong with applying embargo on Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Isn't it about time that EU looked at its own doubles standards when EU is dealing
with Turkey? EU didn't even include, for example, the most brutal terrorists like
PKK and DHKP-C in their list of terrorist organizations, after Turkey lost a
whopping 40,000 victims in war with terror. What is EU still waiting for? A European
9/11 to take place?
Ergun Kirlikovali (2002)
A VIEW FROM 1944
Who Are These Turks Speaking an Asiatic Tongue? Faces and Styles
Suggest They Are Europeans
Out of Central Asia came their forebears, Seljuk and Osmanli Turks. Much of Asia Minor's
original stock they absorbed, An Istanbul policeman (left) and soldier keep order during
the coming of age party (Plate II). Between them, a woman has an old-fashioned black
headdress, but no one wears fez or veil.
National Geographic Magazine, Oct. 29, 1944
Turks are not Europeans. What
constitutes a European? I am not sure, are Armenians European? Are we talking
race, culture, mentality or what? I am white but I was born in Africa. Am I
European? I have a friend from Birmingham who is Asian — is she a European?
Turkey is the "Sick Man of Europe"— or do you mean the Sick Man of
Nick, a Briton, in a guestbook, responding to an Armenian who
stated, "Turks are not Europeans." (11/23/1999)
'Europe for Westerners only’ is a monstrous and a most
impolitic claim, for, if titles go by continents, what standing have we
Westerners, who have colonised the four quarters of the world, to our holdings in
America, Africa, and Australasia? This is not a line of argument which Australians
would like to present to the Japanese, or South Africans to the Bantus.
Arnold Toynbee, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, 1922
See also: Turkey and the Rest of Europe