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Should Turkey become part of European Imperial expansion?

October 16, 2015
Europe or Asia? Where does Turkey's future lie?

Europe or Asia? Where does Turkey’s future lie?

The news this morning that the talks about easing Turkey towards membership of the European Union are back on does not fill me with the same unquestioning cautious enthusiasm of almost every commentator I have heard or read today.

Turkey looks east far more than it looks west. it is not naturally part of Europe although I accept it is a crucial bridge between Europe and Asia. That does not mean it should be absorbed into the European Empire – sorry Union. The arguments I have heard this morning and in the past have uncomfortable echoes of the justification for the continued expansion of the British Empire at the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Under the banner of Forward Policy expansionists argued that pushing further beyond India was necessary in order to secure its borders – how many times has that been said about Turkey this morning? British Imperial expansion was also regularly justified by reference to bringing freedom and economic prosperity to countries that were supposedly otherwise incapable of finding it themselves. Again, how many times has that been said this morning?

Dragging Turkey into the EU would be an act of Imperial expansion. It could also quite possibly make Turkey’s position with its eastern neighbours as even more intolerable as they would surely start to view it as a permanent enemy. Securing Europe’s borders might come at a terrible price for Turkey.

I am keen to see a debate about the future of Turkey and its relationship with Europe and Asia but it shouldn’t be conducted on the unchallenged premise that its membership of the EU would be a good thing. That principle needs much more rigorous examination first and not just from the right wing perspective of hating all things foreign and, especially all things EU.

From → Politics

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