I do not know if this is a legitimate subject for this forum, but I thought that it may be interesting to consider the ways in which the question of Turkey's EU bid is discussed. I found it quite interesting how the Economist magazine highlighted Turkey's Christian heritage as part of the case in favour Turkey's entry. In this article the case of a village in Cappadocia is presented, where Greek emigres return as tourists. Another article in the same edition, gives tentative advice to Turkey as follows:
- "Could anything go wrong between now and December? Mr Erdogan must avoid touching off the sort of controversy sparked by his (now abandoned) plan to criminalise adultery; he cannot afford anything that suggests he is a closet Islamist. The Turks need to be less prickly over Cyprus—recently they fell out with the EU over the status of northern Cyprus at a planned foreign ministers' conference, which was cancelled. Above all, they must hope to avoid further big trouble in the mostly Kurdish south-east, where violence has returned and Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels are being killed every day."
I think that Economist's support of Turkey's EU bid, proves the distortion of the very name of Economist: it should be named Financialist, because the Greek word Economy means taking care of an Oikos, not of a business - but Oikos is what Economist does not see and can not help.
The issues that your message brought to our attention, are very important, because barbarity spreads when the meaning of words is violated, as we know already from Thucydides. Unfortunately, the articles you refer to are offered only to subscribers, so we can not use them in our conversation, unless you cite excerpts. We are obliged to speak generally.
What is it that the Financialist says, speaking about a ‘Christian Heritage of Turkey’? Let' concentrate on the title itself.
We use the word heritage when we refer to a culture, only in such cases when a people has an internal relationship and connection with that heritage, according to which the people itself and us who see this people, expect a continuation and advance of that heritage - at least some esteem!
Turkey doesn't have any Christian heritage: she conquered lands with Ancient and Christian monuments on them. Turkey took, no one gave her these monuments which are now on Turkish soil. This is not a heritage, but a pillage. And in any case, to take a church and destroy the icons from the walls, is not culture and cultural heritage but barbarity; to have some other churches or some ancient monuments, just for the sake of tourism, is not knowing your heritage, but making business.
We could speak about a heritage, even if it had started as a conquering, only in case that Turkey loved what she's got. But the Turkish people doesn't love Homer or Plato, and in their sacred book of Coran they deny the deity of Christ: they don't have any relation with philosophy, nor with the Christian faith - where is exactly the reason of speaking about a Christian heritage of Turkey's?
The Financialist along with other European forces, see EU as a business. Therefore, they say to Turkey, stop torturing people, stop killing people, be more democratic, and you can become a partner in the business - following thus a reasoning that by itself would extend Europe to Japan!, dreaming (the nightmare) of a Global State of the future, the State of the Workers, where anyone will live in isolation, because outside one's house, there will be Chaos. You don't need to go very far: USA is very close to achieving this 'dream'.
On the other side, Turkey herself, seems almost ready to betray her own culture (small or great, is another subject), - but to betray: not to change. She doesn't want to let whatever culture she might have, to know and walk towards some other culture, which she now sees as greater - she doesn't want to become Christian instead of Islamic -, but just to betray what seems to her to be an obstacle to her becoming richer.
I think that we should not accept Turkey, not only because Turkey has nothing to do with our values, but also - and even more - because she wants to have nothing to do with any values at all. What good should Europeans expect from a country so eager to sell her soul - but also: what worse can happen to us, if we already have become ourselves so ready to sell our soul? Accepting Turkey into Europe, in my opinion, is equal to accepting barbarity and devastation, and - most important -, is equal to making of barbarity a principle.
I think you have grasped the essence of the Financialist's article so well that it would be a waste of space and time to quote from it. Indeed, this article tries to build an image of Turkey as a country not unrelated to Christian heritage just for the sake of enhancing its outlook in the eye of the reader.
As a matter of fact, the purpose of the article seems to be best served in the case that someone will read only its title. Apart from the title, there is nothing in the body itself that suggests a Christian heritage of Turkey itself. The body is unambiguous in its referral to Greek emigres who return to a village of deserted churches as tourists, to the pleasure of the local tourism-based community. No conclusion as the title suggests can be drawn from the body of the article. Yet, the title can be quoted in the future for other purposes.
On the other hand, maybe the irony of the article goes even deeper: In some ways, the "Christian heritage" in Europe itself is not very different from the same "heritage" in Turkey, as the Financialist identifies it. When "Christian heritage" in many European contexts simply denotes the former presence of some form of Christianity in one land, then, cynically, why shouldn't Turkey qualify for such heritage as well? Moreover, given the ways in which the original Christianity was distorted in its European expansion, the claim of Turkey to a "Christian heritage" could be seen to be even stronger than, say, the Dutch claim, since the formerly present Christianity was more authentic in the former case than the latter. Besides, this argument could even be welcome by e.g. a Dutch proponent of Turkey's accession.
When you come to think of it, even the background of taking a church and destroying the icons from the walls is shared between Turkey and e.g. the Netherlands, to stay in the same example: during the advent of Protestant Christianity many icons were destroyed from the walls, as the new creed rejected such representations...
To ask the question ‘What has Turkey to do with Christianity?’ is relatively easy, because Turkey herself knows that she has (and always had) nothing to do. But turning to Europe herself, the Netherlands for example, and asking the same question there, is sad. It is sad to see what Christianity has become in all Europe and the USA, with a thousand of quasi churches or even parodies of a church, living in a 'mild nihilism' – yet the same nihilism that made possible nazism for example.
However, even in the Netherlands, the case is somehow different compared with Turkey, if not for any other reason, at least because Christianity there had a central value sometime, however distorted or not, it was a value essential to the life of people, - and they also have a close relationship with the classical antiquity. I think that the difference between Turkey and Netherlands, in this regard, is the difference between being alien and alienation. Alienation is a disease and (perhaps) sometime will be cured. Turkey wants to be part of EU precisely as an alien country and because she is alien, - using our current alienation, putting her hopes in our current alienation, she says ‘I am as alien as you have become: what is it that separates us?’ Thus she suggests that alienation should be the reason of Europe!
Of cource, for these to make sense we should agree on what Karamanlis said when Greece joined the EU, knowing why we agree and being firm in this, that “confusion of ideas and eudemonism together with a cruel logic that tends to ignore man as the purpose of social life, have distorted the cultural exemplar of Europe. ... A united Europe will preserve and advance European culture...provided that we won't put forward as primary target of the European Union material prosperity”. Many people have the social absorbed by financial life, so that for them taking care of man is making money. Thus they render culture meaningless, and this is barbarity. This is our enemy. Not the Turks, or anyone, but this part of us who just wants to survive and then survive more, extend, in the way a virus extends. The type of ‘society’ this part wants, is a Mad Max and Matrix ‘society’, but they don’t know it (they can’t know it), and thus they indeed create it. The only thing we can do is to understand what is at stake, helping ourselves aquire a firm conviction to explain it and give it a chance to prevail, because maybe Europe is not that lost as it seems, maybe Karamanlis’ common knowledge remark has not become an exception, but some of us just haven’t realised what happens. There are voices in Europe, voices like ours exist even in the Parliament and the Commission and also among the people of almost all European countries. Not everything has been lost. To deny membership to Turkey would be a wise move, because the opposite would signify a clear start of the disintegration of Europe, - yet this move is not enough, far from it.
Is it possible for Christianity to remember her old unity, is it possible for the Churches (at least the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which, despite all the differences and mistakes, are both closer to the Christian tradition), is it possible for them to have a creative intervention in what happens now? We can’t say yes or no, this is something history will show, yet the situation from this respect is close to despair -as the Why Europe? editorial of the European Prospect shows- precisely because a Church is not the clergy (as catholicism thinks de facto), while the people of the Churches, e.g. in Netherlands, as you say, or in Spain, a (former) castle of Catholicism, hardly consider now themselves as Churches – even gay marriages seem something ‘normal’ and are ready to gain official support, while the (Catholic) Church is unable to explain with real arguments and not legalistic nonsense, what is it that bothers us in gay marriages. Having made of the Church something like a Divine Police, Catholicism now (and since long ago), gathers the fruits of this ‘strategy’ – yet such failures regard the life of all of us. I think that we will be tried hard in the years to come.
However, I think that an acceptance of Turkey to the European Union, a clear mark of the Union’s fall (that is, a clear and definitive decision of the Union to have the unity of a company and not of a society), maybe should make countries like Greece, where Christianity is indeed a living element, reconsider their membership and even leave the Union...