WATERTOWN, MA – The Boston Globe today published a Letter to the Editor written by Arin Gregorian, Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Eastern Region. The letter, edited by the Boston Globe staff, was written in response to the November 18, 2002 opinion-editorial, ” The EU at a crossroads,” by columnist Jonathan Power.
Gregorian’s edited letter is included below along with the op-ed by Power. For additional information, please contact Vanik Hacobian at 617-923-1918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
ANCA ER LETTER TO THE EDITOR
EU shouldn’t reward Turkey
I DISAGREE with Jonathan Power (”The EU at a crossroads,” op ed, Nov. 18) when he says that Turkey has been an ”unquestioned member” of NATO.
History proves otherwise. During World War II, Turkey, while officially remaining ”neutral,” aided Germany until it was certain that the Allies would win. In 1979, Turkey refused to allow its airspace to be used to rescue US hostages in Iran. And Turkey still opposes US congressional resolutions calling for withdrawal from northern Cyprus, lifting of its economic blockade of neighboring Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and an end to human rights violations against its own citizens.
Perhaps Power’s criticism of opposition to Turkey entering the EU would be more effective if Turkey were more of a democracy. The fact remains, however, that decisions by the Turkish governments can be overturned by the all-powerful military.
Torture is still rampant in Turkish prisons. The so-called human rights reforms that Power claims Turkey has enacted are a mere facade. Supposedly, Kurds can be taught in schools, but the ”reform” excludes anyone under 18 from such classes, bans classes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday to Friday, and requires that teachers be certified by Turkish universities while the Kurdish language remains banned at universities.
Until Turkey embraces true democracy and ends its violations of international law, it should not be rewarded with EU membership.
Director, Armenian National
Committee of America
OPINION-EDITORIAL BY JONATHAN POWER
The EU at a crossroads
By Jonathan Power, 11/18/2002
COPENHAGEN ENLARGEMENT of the European Union to bring in the former communist nations of Eastern Europe and after that Turkey was never meant to be so tense an affair. When the Berlin Wall came down, opinion makers in Western Europe were falling over themselves in their attempt to wave broadly stretched arms of welcome to those who could join the historic mission of making Europe one.
In the event the incorporation of these nations into NATO (where Turkey has long been an unquestioned member) was easier to pull off than economic integration into the EU. It needn’t have been. It wasn’t the economics of the argument. It was the politics: In the military arena politicians simply have more independent room for maneuvering. And President Clinton was pushing for it for his own internal political reasons – he needed the east European ethnic vote. In a few weeks at the summit of European leaders here the final details about most of Eastern Europe’s admission will be settled and grudgingly, too grudgingly, the clock will start to tick to entry day.
Most of us who write about European affairs were waiting for Copenhagen to raise the next question: What about Turkey? But Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the former president of France and now the president of the conference writing a constitution for a united Europe, has jumped the gun with an acidic article in Le Monde that says ”it will be the end of the European Union” if Muslim Turkey is allowed to join.
At the same time we learn that Giscard has been in Rome to meet the pope where they apparently agreed between themselves that the new European constitution should contain a reference explicitly stating that Christianity is essential to the historic identity of Europe. This takes us back to a famous BBC broadcast to a defeated Germany in 1945 by the poet T.S. Eliot. ”I do not believe,” he said, ”that the culture of Europe could survive the complete disappearance of the Christian faith.” Otherwise, one can say, what is Europe but a peninsula of Asia?
Even nonbelievers like me have no trouble in seeing that much of Europe’s rich literature, art, architecture, and music are grounded in the Christian faith, not to speak of its morality, even the twisted morality of the utopian beliefs of Marxism and Nazism that led to the worst wars the world has ever experienced.
Indeed, what is good in Christian Europe is breathtakingly beautiful and wonderful, not just in artistic forms but in say the creation of Scandinavia’s national health services, Spain’s lack of racism, Italy’s refusal to bear a historical grudge or the British sense of tolerance and fair play.
Yet what has been bad has come from the same sources. The Germans (and their Austrian cousins) are second to none in their creation and love of all artistic forms since the days of the Enlightenment, not least in music, but their politics has been despicable and evil. The Germans, it should be underlined, were influenced at the time of their worst mistakes by nothing from outside Christian Europe.
The European Union, founded by Germany and France, was also a Christian creation. The early engine drivers were Christian Democrats and Socialists. This was their inspired answer to ending wars in Europe by binding its peoples so closely that war could never be practical or necessary.
Now the European Union can look back on half a century of its evolution to what it is about to become – the broadest political and economic alliance in world history that has developed almost unwittingly an antiwar culture, for which the recent German election is the best witness.
Thus Europe has changed, and in many other ways, too. It has given itself more personal freedoms, and has put such a stress on human rights that the rest of the world is almost bowled over by the enthusiasm.
Thus, as the frontiers of Europe are pushed outward in social and economic waves, why shouldn’t they be in political matters, too? Are Europeans really so self-consciously Christian these days that we can’t take in a neighbor if he shares the same values? Turkey has become so westernized that even its fundamentalists are less fundamentalist than some of those in Western Europe and North America. Look at the important role of women in Turkish politics. Despite the victor in the recent election being an avowed Islamic party, it is determined to lead a modern Turkey into a modern Europe.
The carrots which have the last few years been substituted for the stick by the European Union have worked wonders. Under the outgoing government human rights standards have been ratcheted up and the attitude toward Kurdish self-expression has begun to change.
It is clear from everything that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the victorious leader, has said that this process will be speeded up. It will accelerate even further if European leaders don’t go around uttering the kind of anachronisms spoken by Giscard d’Estaing. If Orthodox Greece, not so long ago Turkey’s bitter enemy, can become the first to champion Turkish entry, it shouldn’t be too hard for Catholic and Protestant Europe.
Jonathan Power is a columnist based in London.
This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 11/18/2002.
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