Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Turkish EU bid

There has been quite a bit floating around out there after it was announced by the Turkish prime minister that the Vatican would support Turkey's bid to enter the European Union. As Amy has pointed out here and as I mentioned the other day, the actual statement by the Pope is not quite as black and white.

The Holy See wants to to see reciprocity. European countries accept the right of Muslims to practice their religion, so Muslim countries should return the favor. The clarification of the Turkish PM's comments shows clearly that this is the message: accept the EU's conditions regarding religious freedom, the rule of law, etc. and the Vatican will not oppose Turkish aspirations.

But many are saying, "Turkey doesn't belong!"

Leaving aside present-day considerations, the historical Ottoman Empire was not exactly a purely Middle-Eastern entity. Bosnia, just across the Adriatic from Italy, has quite a few Muslims precisely because the Ottomans ruled there for quite awhile before 19th century nationalism began to weaken their rule on Southeast Europe. As the principal successor state to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's heritage is a European one, whether Europe likes it or not.

However! Just because a modern nation-state can claim to be a part of the European historical tapestry, it should not be entitled to automatic inclusion into what is not a cultural organization. The European Union is (aside from behing a huge bureaucratic mess) a political and economic supra-national organization with various delegated powers. Its purpose is not cultural exchange or preserving European culture. If Turkey is going to be admitted into the European Union, it should be admitted according to present-day criteria (rule of law, personal liberty, etc.).

Vatican Watcher's formal position is that the European Union should be disbanded in favor of several multi-lateral treaties on trade, immigration, joint defense, the environment and law enforcement. Yes, this position makes Turkey's admission a moot point.

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