November 16, 2002
AXIS OF GOOD (cont.):Turkey transformed (Peter Preston, 11/15/02, Ha'aretz)
It is time to talk about Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is time to think long and hard about a land whose fate affects all our futures. Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is paid to think about the constitutional future of Europe and its enlargement, has done enough pondering already. No, he tells Le Monde, Turkey must "never" be allowed to join the European Union. It has "a different culture, a different approach, a different way of life. It is a country close to Europe, an important country: but it is not a European country."
There now... somebody of weight, somebody of influence, has said out loud what EU politicians and diplomats have been muttering behind their hands for years. Turkey may be sweet-talked and strung along, led to believe that what 70 percent of its population wants most dearly - a seat in the Brussels sun - is possible, and attainable to a fixed timetable. But, when push comes to shove, it can just shove off. Our fine words are the dross of hypocrisy. [...]
The tawdry truth is that, yes... racism and cultural bigotry and fear and economic failure still stalk the Europe and Britain in which we live; that France can't cope with its Algerians, Germany with its existing Turks - and perhaps we can't cope either. So close the door quietly, muttering excuses.
And the hope, with great expectations attached? That those summer human-rights reforms in Ankara, the transforming magic of the EU we forget, is only the start of freedom's wonders. That when Mr. Erdogan offers a Cyprus solution at last, he means it. That our Europe of declining birth rates will need the youth and dynamism Turkey brings. That our bravest new world, inescapably, joyously, is multicultural and multi-ethnic.
Travel with trepidation, I think. But above all: travel hopefully.
The ugly truth is that Europe needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Europe; we need Turkey more than we need Europe; and Turkey is too important for us to allow it to dangle while the Europeans fiddle around. It's significant that this essay appears in an Israeli paper, because the Israelis realize where the future lies--with America, Turkey, and India, not with the EU. The sooner our government realizes the same thing, the better off we'll be. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 16, 2002 7:12 AM