Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Turkey and the EU : Cultural incompatibility
This is the first article in a series of articles I will write about Turkey and the EU and in which I will explain the reasons why Turkey doesn’t belong and shouldn’t join the EU.
“Je considérerai comme européens tous les peoples qui ont subi, au cours de l’Histoire, les trois influences que je vais dire. La première est celle de Rome(…) modèle eternel de la puissance organisée et stable, la seconde est celle du christianisme, qui vit et atteint progressivement le profond de la conscience(…) enfin l’apport de la Grèce est ce qu’il n’y a de plus distinctif dans notre civilisation. Nous lui devons une méthode de penser qui tend à rapporter toutes choses à l’homme, à l’homme complet ”
Paul Valery 1922, université de Zurich
In this famous speech given in the Zurich university, The French thinker Paul Valery stresses out that European identity is based upon three major influences through the course of history, which are by order the Greek civilization and it’s way of thinking, Rome and the organization and the order it established and finally the Christianity that reaches the deep of the human consciousness.
When the European Union was founded it was mainly an economic institution with the main objective of promoting economic growth and stability for its members. The time of the vision towards a unified Europe was dominated by increased competition for raw materials in the rapidly industrializing world after the WWII. Thus the 1st step came with the formation of the European Coal and steel community (ECSC) by the Treaty of Paris 1951, the founding members were: Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), France and Germany. The ECSC was transformed by the Treaty of Rome into European Economic Community on March 25, 1957 during the same year the European Economic Community and the European Atomic Energy community also came to light. With the years, a political integration was needed and gradually the European common market evolved into the modern European Union in 1993.
In the new Union, economic motifs weren’t the sole condition for membership. A new vision was established, it promoted, beside economic development, political stability, cultural exchange, military cooperation… The new Union was meant to be a form of a unified state with a common European cultural background. But what is culture?
“Culture includes language, beliefs, ideas, institutions, techniques, customs, codes, tools, and works of art, rituals and ceremonies of a society.” Samuel Huntington Clash of civilizations
When it comes to Turkey, is the Turkish culture a European one??? The answer is simply NO.
Turkey was founded on the ruins of the glorious Byzantine Empire but it’s not the successor of the Byzantine culture. Turks are originated in central Asia, they came to the middle east upon successive waves since the 11th century, they adopted the Islam as their religion from their contact with the Arabs and established their first empire (Seljuk empire in Persia) which later evolved into Ottoman empire that expanded over the Byzantine empire in the region until the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. So the Turkish culture is an Islamic Asian culture and not a European one. Even After the fall of Constantinople Turks didn’t adapt the Greek Byzantine culture , on the opposite side they destructed all the churches and Byzantine monasteries , and Only Hagia Sofia was spared to be transformed into a mosque with the 4 minarets added along with the koraniq scripts and verses.
The Turkish culture nowadays tries to show as a western culture but in fact it’s “a product of efforts to be "modern" and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values”.
Let’s review the basic components of Turkish culture:
Language: The Turkish language is a member of the ancient Oghuz subdivision of Turkic languages, which in turn is a branch of the proposed Altaic language family. The Semitic alphabet was in use in all the course of its history until Ataturk banned it in 1932.
Architecture: Ottoman architecture which has influence from Seljuk, Islamic Arab, Persian and Byzantine architecture.
Arts: Islamic artistic traditions and Calligraphy
Ceremonies and rituals: Islamic holidays and feasts are celebrated in turkey
So in conclusion the Turkish culture has nothing to do with the western European culture and that’s the most basic obstacle that inhibits the integration of turkey in the EU, it’s culturally indigestible within Europe.