April 5, 2011
Author: Serkan Bulut (Blogger European Student Think Tank)
A country with a 70+ million mostly Muslim population is at the doorsteps of the EU: the Turks! What do we know about them and how much of what we know actually reflects reality? It is not time to talk about who they are but about who they are not. Let’s analyze some of the European myths about “the other” starting with the “Trojan Horse” analogy.
Myth I: Turkey will proof to be a Trojan horse!
The famous story of the Greeks’ capture of the city of Troy using the decoy of a wooden horse in which soldiers were hidden is a well-known one. It creates a powerful historical image in mind and this is why it is popular when it comes to describing the Turkish bid to the EU.
Turkey: Trojan horse of the Islam?
There are two aspects of this myth. On the one side are the people who believe that Turkey will be the Trojan Horse of the Islam in Europe and that through Turkish membership to the EU, Europe will be Islamized, meaning that Europe will become a “Muslim” continent. This group envisions a religious domination of Europe by Turks; a process which will turn Europe into Eurabia. Through conversion and high birthrates this groups believes that Muslims will finally overrun Europe. Of course this argument has its connections with arguments against Muslim immigrants of different origins, other than Turkish, as well. Articulating the already “high” number of Muslim immigrants in Europe, adding the incoming 70+ million Turkish Muslims, this argument paints a doomsday scenario for secular Europe. From this perspective Turkey is not or “no longer” a secular country and its “Islamic” nature is the dagger that aims at the heart of Europe. Just like in any other myth this claim lacks a solid base of evidence; mere rehashing of historical fears and production of a new generation of phobias.
I’m not saying that integration of a country with a large population will be a problem free process but the problems will not really be of a religious nature. Turks have always had ambitions for the future. Whether realistic or unrealistic, rational or irrational they have always thought that they are destined to do great things. However, a religious domination of Europe is not part of the Turkish agenda. This goes especially when it concerns the youth.
Turkey: Trojan Horse of the U.S.A.?
The other aspect of this myth is the one that sees Turkey as a Trojan horse of the US in the EU. This group is skeptical of English policies as well and tends to see Turkey as a second England in the EU. There are several assumptions behind such a theory that creates this myth and as these assumptions are flawed: the whole theory is misguided.
First of all, claiming that Turkey will be an agent of the US within the EU implies that the EU and the US are experiencing significant clashes of interest and that Turkey will join England in undermining the EU against the US. When was the last biggest clash of interest/policy between the EU and the US since the fall of Soviet Union? It was the war in Iraq and there was no significant difference between the Franco-German attitude towards the war and American policies, and the Turkish. In fact, Turkish opposition to the war severely damaged the relations with the US which took years to normalize, while many European states contributed to the war efforts.
Secondly, English and Turkish ideas about integration and deepening of the Union are completely different. Britain prefers to limit its integration to continental Europe. Turkey, however, in fact desperately wants to integrate itself into Europe and turn itself and the EU as a viable actor in global politics and a counter-balance of the US, especially in the Middle East.
All in all, the argument that Turkey will be the Trojan horse of the US in the EU is problematic from the very assumptions it lays its foundation on. It assumes a tension between the two sides of the Atlantic which is neither inherent nor characteristic of this relationship. And it falls into the trap of comparing Britain which holds a “special” relationship with the US to Turkey, a country that strives to find a new refined role in its regional politics and sees the EU as an important platform to realize that wish.
Serkan will discuss seven more myths after this one. Curious, or wish to react on this article? Go to www.studentthinktank.euAuthor : est