OPINION

Critical attributes

In contrast to Greece, where the government’s stance is that Turkey should join the European Union but also that it should have Greek backing, the debate about Turkish membership of the EU has provoked deep rifts and great tension in other member states. This is not surprising, however. After all, it is the first time the bloc has been faced with the challenge of admitting a new member that doesn’t bear any of its core attributes, and so it is the first time that enlargement is not strictly political or economic in nature but rather «cultural.» Apart from the huge question regarding the bloc’s ability to incorporate a country with such a large population, the EU is being asked to determine what it is and what it aims to become. Although much has been written about the key characteristics of the EU, they remain difficult to define categorically. At the same time, it is political hypocrisy to pretend that one does not see the striking differences between the two worlds represented by the EU and Turkey. The mere fact that the flags of most EU countries have been designed on the symbol of the cross speaks volumes. Some may believe that this is a matter of little import; but to think this way is to ignore the fact that these symbols speak volumes about European societies and about the Western world in general…