Article from Turkish Weekly
Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian premier who is a key ally of Merkel, called for the EU to halt accession talks with Turkey. He said Turkish leaders had been "especially aggressive" towards Pope Benedict XVI over a papal lecture last week in Bavaria state that quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor badly criticizing Islam.
* "Turkey is not European and does not belong in Europe," said Stoiber* Turkish politicians and academicians argue that the real criteria for Turkey’s EU accession is the religious criteria and Turkey can never satisfy the EUBy Melek DURMAZPAN (JTW)ANKARA - When Turkish politicians including the leftist rightist leaders, severely criticized the Pope Benedict XVI, the religious leader of the Catholic Christians, some European politicians start to question whether Turkey is an eligible candidate for the EU or not. Edmund Stoiber, the president of Bavaria (Germany) and leader of the Christian Social Union Party (CSU), the “little sister” of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union, proposed yesterday (Friday) that deliberations on Turkey’s possible acceptance into the European Union be ended. Stoiber said the reaction of many of the ruling political leaders in Turkey to the words of the pope was reckless and overly critical, Europa Press. According to Oldenburgische Volkszeitung, German daily, the Germany Government thinks like Stoiber yet Merkel cannot react Turkey in this way due to the diplomatic limits. Turks say that the latest criteria for Turkey’s EU membership is the ‘Christian values’.Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, Turkish opposition leaders, and some Turkish religious authorities continue to demand that the pope make a more sincere public apology for the words he spoke in a Sept. 12 discourse at the University of Regensburg, during his visit to Germany. Turkish media continue to argue that the Pope has undermined the harmony between civilasations. However Abdullah Gul, Turkish Foreign Minister, said the Pope’s visit to Turkey will be a great opportunity to restore the misunderstands.Some Turkish politicians even went so far as to compare Benedict XVI to Hitler or Mussolini, a comparison which exasperated Edmund Stoiber, who thinks that “Turkey is not now in the condition to enter the European Union.” Dr. Nilgun Gulcan from USAK, however, says that Stoiber’s only condition is Christinity:“Turkey is not a Germany, or a France, and it will never be like these countries. Turkey is different. If the current members want to establish Europe on the base of Christian values, Turkey can never be a European. If Europe means Christian discrimination, it means that the EU has to live with more than 100 million non Europeans (Muslims) inside”German politician Stoiber argued that Turkey has different cultural and spiritual background and these differences make it non-European: “Turkey is not Europe nor does it belong to the continent, because the country has such great cultural and spiritual differences with western values.Meanwhile the ranking prelate of the Catholic Church in England and the former head of the Anglican Communion have asked similar questions. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster (London), told the Times of London, “I think the question is for Europe: will the admission of Turkey to the European Union be something that benefits a proper dialogue or integration of a very large, predominantly Islamic country in a continent that, fundamentally, is Christian?”Cardinal O’Connor said that the majority of English people are Christian who, regardless of the secular nature of their country, have a deep yearning for God, based upon their Christian traditions.A large majority of British Christians belong to the Church of England which Lord George Carey of Clifton used to head. The former archbishop of Canterbury added his voice to those questioning Turkey’s place in the EU yesterday, telling the “Today” program that “Surely a European community has to be more than economic? It has to have common values and so on."* ‘Old Europe vs New Europe’Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sedat Laciner, head of the Ankara-based USAK, argued that Stoiber and Cardinal O’Connor are the most sincere European politicians and religious leader yet sincerity does not make them right:“Many and many politicians and spiritual leaders in EU countries think in this way. I think the Pope Benedict XVI is not deeply sorry for his statement about Islam. He is sorry because his speech lures a severe reaction from the Islam peoples. Many EU politicians do not see any place for Turkey in EU because Turkey is a Muslim country. If the EU is only a Christian club, I think Turkey should not be part of it. Because Turkey is a secular country and I am personally against to be part of a Middle Ages understanding. If the EU wants to be a Middle Ages institution, so it cannot integrate the religions and ethnic groups of the European continent. There are more than 100 million Muslims in Europe. The millions of Muslims live at the heart of London, Berlin, Paris etc. Most of them are not immigrant but EU citizens, yet they cannot see the German or French Government as their own government. There are also many Euro-Muslim countries, yet none of them is EU member, including Turkey, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Azerbaijan and Northern Cyprus Republic. I agree with Mr. Stoiber, Turkey has no place in a Christianity-based Europe. If the EU will be such a narrow-minded organization, Turkey should be outside of this discriminative structure and religious fundamentalism. It is really difficult to see any difference between Mr. Stoiber and Osame Bin Ladin in seeding religious hate. Europe is at a very critical stage as it was before the Second World War. Now the Turkish and Muslim peoples of the European continent can understand better what the European Jewish people felt before and during the Second World War. Turkey has always been a great opportunity to bridge Christians and Muslims, but I understand that we have lost that chance already”.Similarly Dr. Nilgun Gulcan says “both Mr. Stoiber and the Pope are German and this is not accidental. There is a strong Christian anti-Turkish root in Germany. They are after Christianity’s leader again. The Pope can criticize your cultural values or your very spiritual things, yet we cannot defend our self. When the Pope speaks, it is freedom of expression, when you question what the Pope says is attack against Christianity. I see double standard here. I accept some Muslims over reacted regarding the Pope’s statement, but not the Turkish politicians. They only criticized the Pope as he criticized a religion.”Sedat Laciner further says the Cyprus issue, Armenian issue and many other so-called obstacles are simply excuses produced to prevent Turkey’s EU membership:“The EU leaders accepted the Christian Cypriots as full member to the EU, but the Muslim Cypriots were rejected because they are not Christian. The EU cannot explain why and how it accepted such a problematic country. The border issues are still there and the Brussels breached all the EU principles by accepting the Greek Cypriots as full member. On the other hand the EU has not kept its words and has taken no concrete step to end isolation over the Turkish Cypriots.”“We want to see a more just and more balanced EU. We want to establish a common future instead of obsessing with the biases of the past.” Mr. Laciner added.