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Is Huntington right on Turkish-European Union relations?

   
OpinionsBy Sami Kohen

“Samuel Huntington, the controversial American author of ‘The Clash of Civilizations,’ came to Istanbul earlier this week and told CNN Turk that Ankara\'s bid to join the European Union was doomed to fail!

His ideas and controversial book ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order’ have long been debated by scholarly and political circles all around the world. It’s very interesting that Huntington came to Turkey and offered striking remarks on the country’s EU membership bid just when anti-Turkish circles in the bloc have also started to raise their voices. His messages were clear: Europeans don’t want you. They\'ll do everything they can to keep you out…

The American political scientist bases his remarks on his controversial views in ‘The Clash of Civilizations.’ In other words, the reason why Europeans don’t want Turkey is the cultural and religious differences between the two.

There’s no doubt that some European circles don’t want Turkey for just the reasons cited by Huntington. However, these aren’t the only reasons. Turkey’s large population and political and economic shortcomings are also major problems in the eyes of Europeans.

However, it’s also true that some governments are in favor of Turkey’s membership despite public opposition and hesitation in their countries. As a matter of fact, these two poles are still debating the Turkey issue on the old continent.

Huntington is right about one thing: Since the French and Dutch referendums on the EU Constitution seem to connect with Ankara’s membership bid, we could suspect that there is an ulterior motive to exclude Turkey behind these votes. However, if the French and Dutch publics say ‘no’ to the Constitution, we cannot argue that the only reason is our membership bid. It would be quite mistaken to think that Turkey’s membership aspirations are the only motive…

We will of course face new difficulties if these referendums reject the EU Constitution and possible early elections unseat Germany’s current government … But what should Turkey do now?

One of our options is to continue our path without deviating from our goals. Let’s not forget that Turkey is already a member of basic European institutions such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. We’re also part of most of the European cultural and sports organizations. Therefore, Huntington is mistaken, as he sees the picture from a single perspective…

Our second option is, as Huntington suggested, to give up on our EU aspirations and seek new alternatives. Honestly speaking, Huntington’s suggestions are way behind Turkey’s targets and almost certain not to work. He’s insisting on a theory based on the clash of civilizations, and I think he’s trying to find examples to back it up…

However, in the international community you’ll find many people who believe in and strive for the compromise of civilizations…”

ERROR IN THE EQUATION BY OKTAY EKSI (HURRIYET)

Columnist Oktay Eksi comments on a postponed gathering of Turkish historians and academics questioning the official Turkish view of the 1915 deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. A summary of his column is as follows:

“The conference on ‘Ottoman Armenians During the Fall of the Empire,’ which had been scheduled for this week at Bogazici University, was a misguided attempt, because it was made without taking into consideration the context in Turkey.

It would be wrong to hold this conference to disprove the views of those who argue that the Armenian genocide never took place.

Moreover, the subject should be handled in an objective manner and though scholarly discussions. For example, those who represent the opposing view should also be represented there equally. That this wasn’t done was probably the biggest mistake.

However these were not the only mistakes made... Justice Minister Cemil Cicek accused those who planned the conference of ‘stabbing Turkey in the back’ and after that made statements a good democrat should never make: He accused them of treason. This was the biggest mistake of all.

I don’t find the government’s reaction democratic, but in fact very wrong, as I wrote above.

I wish that the conference had been held and we could find the answer to these two questions:

1. Could you hold the opposite version of this conference –which could not be held because Turkey is not democratic enough – in Armenia? For example, could a conference on ‘The Armenian Genocide Allegations Are Based on Lies’ be held in Armenia?

2. Those who say that the Armenian genocide is real, when in some European countries laws were passed making denying the allegations a crime, did you oppose this with even a single breath?”
  

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