The Turkey Issue


15 Feb 05

French Analyst Article in Moscow Paper

One can only wonder reading articles of European political scientists
on Islam, Islamic states and their civilizations: canâ~@~Yt
these people see or donâ~@~Yt they want to see the real danger to
Christian civilization or civilization as a whole? How close does the
Muslim world stand to such noble European ideas as democracy, human
rights, womanâ~@~Ys emancipation, respecting the rights of national
minorities? When the Muslims were â~@~Xstrugglingâ~@~Y for the right
of wearing headscarves, they skillfully used the European credo of
freedom. But who will ever see a Christian demand a similar thing in,
say, Saudi Arabia or Iran.

>>From this perspective and from the viewpoint of Armenian subjective
approach, the article of Thierry de Montbrial, president of French
Institute of International Relations, entitled â~@~XThe Turkey
Issueâ~@~Y published in one of Moscow newspapers is immensely

Montbrial thinks that the widening of the European Union makes it
versatile and variegated and considers it is dangerous. The Turkey
issue arises on this ground. Turkey entered the pilot stage of EU
accession after the Helsinki sitting in 1999. Three years later, just
before the Copenhagen summit, Justice and Prosperity Party declaring
adherence to Islam and bidding for a “party of Muslim democracy” came
to power. Meanwhile the new government continued the policy of reforms
launched by their predecessors and received the monitoring group of
the European Commission, to great surprise of numerous observers. Thus,
Turkey is doing everything to join the “Christian Club”.

The French analyst asks why they fear Turkey in Europe. Turkey for
most of the Europeans, he says, is an embodiment of deeply rooted
events that make them dread. The image of a dangerous enemy and
conqueror is palpable.

Democracy is another cause for fear; Turkeyâ~@~Ys population is about
70 million and keeps on growing. Once an EU member, it may have the
greatest majority of representatives at the European Parliament.

Thirdly, Europeans fear Islam that grew in momentum after the 9/11.

Franceâ~@~Ys open opposition to Turkey-EU relations, and the apologists
of Turkey-free Europe often refer to French politiciansâ~@~Y
statements. “Turkey stands very close to Europe and it has a real
political elite. Its importance is great but it is not considered a
European state”, Valeri Giscard d├é┬┤Estaing, ex-president of France,
stated. If it becomes a member of the community that will be “the
end of the European Union”, Thierry de Montbrial wrote.

The most important part of the article for the Armenians is perhaps
the part where Montbrial speaks of the possibilities of general

Itâ~@~Ys obvious, he says, that the UE is leaning on few conjoint
ideas that are united forming a system. They are: democracy, human
rights, respect for and protection of minorities, the rule of law,
reconciliation, secular government and market economy (Copenhagen

The French analyst highlights 3 issues: relation of democracy to
minorities, secular government and reconciliation. He says that it
would be a great achievement if Turkey manages to settle all issues
concerning national minorities, the Kurdish issue first and foremost,
in accordance with the Western criteria.

Mentioning of the societyâ~@~Ys secularization, the author hesitates
that implacable adherents of Islam may come to power if Turkey fails
in effecting democratic reforms to join EU. They are possibly waiting
for their hour hoping that Turkeyâ~@~Ys candidacy will be voted down.

Concerning reconciliation, the author emphasizes latterâ~@~Ys romantic
nature no matter how desirable it is. Those concocting great plans have
the right and even have to dream. Why cannot we dream of reconciliation
of Turks and Greeks, successors of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires,
and even of representatives of 3 religions?

Though it is hard to imagine, Montbrial notes, we can also dream of
Armenian-Turkish reconciliation on the basis of European project. What
we mean by project is a system that will include realization of the
3 following conditions.

Firstly, each stage of broadening the EU has to be tested not
to destroy the system as a whole. The process of “transplantation”
has to be controlled. So, the immediate joining of such a country as
Turkey is hardly possible, it may happen in the course of time.

Secondly, the member states have to prove in practice that they
are truly following the Copenhagen criteria. Whereas it is scarcely
optimistic as regards Muslim countries.

And thirdly, no EU candidate can join the Union unless there is
unanimous consent of the member states after the accession talks. The
French analyst is pessimistic as regards the results of the future

All in all, Montbrial thinks that it would be a mistake not to start
accession talks in near future. Unless we do that, nationalistic and
Islamic forces turned against Europe will come to light throwing the
country into crises with unimaginable consequences. Besides, Montbrial
states unambiguously, the start of the talks is not equivalent to
the end.

By Ruben Hayrapetian