Turkey is part of Europe?

On the heels of my brief post about attempts to reframe Turkey's strategic role, an op-ed in the UK Guardian revisits the question of Turkey's relationship to Europe. He ends by writing:
We need courageous European politicians who will develop a new vision of Turkish-EU relations, who will remind their citizens that Turkey, by virtue of its economic power, geography, history and natural position as go-between with the "Muslim world", is a major asset for Europe and for its future. Instead of waiting until historical necessity forces the EU to incorporate Turkey, European statesmen should be working together to develop a clear, reasonable policy leading to Turkish membership – one that would respect political principles and recognise cultural and religious diversity. Welcoming Turkey into the EU would mean Europe would have to reconcile itself with its own principles: the principles it has all too often betrayed in practice.
A couple of things to point out: First, Turkey is again imagined as a "go-between," a kind of bridge between East and West. Second, as some things recently on my desk have pointed out, it's becoming increasingly difficult to argue that the Muslim world begins in Turkey (Germany, have you looked in the mirror recently?). Third, even arguing "Turkey is part of Europe" ignores or obscures the way in which both "Turkey" and "Europe" are constructed - they have a history, a rhetoric, and a geography to them. Arguing for the place of Turkey in or out of Europe misses out on the way in which Europe itself has been and continues to be problematically constructed, bounded, and demarcated. Finally, the comments (I only read a handful) are telling about the polarized nature of this debate in the UK today.

Thank god we don't have polarized debates here.


Jordan M said…
I think if Turkey gets in then it will be with much higher restrictions on immigration and other regulations than Bulgaria and Romania. I have no qualms with it regionally or culturally but there are some outstanding economic and human rights issues that they would have to address to satisfy many members of the EU.

It might have some political pull with many of the Muslim immigrants in places like the UK, France, and Germany but there are already major problems with some of the nations they have admitted recently.

It could be good for resolving the Cyprus problem too.

Just some thoughts.
Timur said…
Sorry I hadn't responded to this in a while. Re: economic issues - you mean the one where the PM owns the media, cavorts with escorts, and presides over an economy crippled by corruption and nepotism? Oh wait. That's Italy.

I don't buy that as a convincing critique; what worries me is the way in which Europe is imagined as some stable idea, and the way in which Turkey is positioned as the limit of Europe. I don't know though - we'll see how things play out.

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