Fateful choice

Posted in Europe | 08-Oct-04 | Author: Günther Nonnenmacher| Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

With its recommendation to start accession negotiations with Turkey, the EU Commission made a fateful, perhaps even fatal decision. Wednesday's decision means that the European Union is now moving to extend its reach beyond the geographical borders of Europe. This will make it more difficult to ward off requests for membership from other aspirants, including those in northern Africa or the Middle East, or the former Soviet empire. The resulting overexpansion of the EU would become all too tangible - economically, politically and culturally.

Turkey's membership would mark the end of the historic project that was launched in the 1950s as a consequence of European self-destruction in two world wars. Political leaders may find this a desirable or unavoidable move because the division of the world into two hostile blocs has also come to an end. Then they should be honest enough to admit to European citizens that the issue at stake is not an expansion, but a transformation.

The economic difficulties involved in the integration of a country like Turkey into the European Union are relatively easy to gauge because they can be expressed in figures and as risks and opportunities. The cultural consequences will be far more revolutionary: The relationship to Turkey is not marked by the same feeling of a common identity that Europeans shared even when they were at war with each other. Yet this perception of belonging together is needed if Europeans are to accept, even grudgingly, and consider legitimate the financial transfers at the core of the EU.

If the ground is pulled from underneath the historic feeling and self-perception of a common destiny, there will be no more reason for political solidarity either: The idea of the EU as a global political force, which already appears overly ambitious today, would finally become an illusion. The EU would irreversibly be headed in the direction of an “Organization for Security and Cooperation“ stretched beyond the European continent.

Turkey's membership would destroy the house of Europe. The proposed compensation is geopolitical dreams and historical-philosophical illusions of a “bridge into the Islamic world.“