Europe and the ‘other’

Turkish soccer teams have, for some years now, taken part in European championships. Although politics is not entirely absent from these decisions, the prevailing laws are the all-powerful ones of the market: European sporting federations, under the aegis of the sponsoring industry, are encouraged by the profits to be gained in new markets. The European Union, however, is not simply a common market but something more political and intellectual – at least that is what its leaders claim – with the desire to co-create a political force that will multiply (and not simply add to) the power of the individual countries in a union that is politically autonomous from the American superpower. So it is self-evident that Turkey’s membership cannot be decided solely on the basis of market criteria. In the European Union, Turkey is the «other,» hence the reservations on the part of politicians, parties and intellectuals. Not the «enemy» (after all, the EU includes countries once on opposing sides in battle lines), but different. Apart from the obvious difference of religion, more crucial is the longevity and depth of its democracy. In the countries of the EU, individual and civil liberties and minority rights are naturally not as respected as the law requires, but Turkey, despite some positive steps (dictated to some extent by the EU), still has a long way to go before the generals loosen their hold, before it becomes a country where Kurds are seen as equals, and where there are no more political prisoners. Nevertheless, and despite its continued occupation of a part of Cyprus and the fact that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, Turkey (trusting in US support) is demanding a European passport with an arrogance no other candidate has shown.