Naysayers point out that only five per cent of Turkey’s territory is in Europe, which geographical handicap is supposed to be a barrier to the country’s entry into the EU.
Those pedantic sticklers simply fail to understand what the EU is all about. First and foremost, it unites nations on the basis of shared values, not just shared geography.
Hence it doesn’t matter if a country is only five per cent European geographically as long as it’s 100 per cent European spiritually. Regarded in that light, Turkey qualifies with room to spare.
For one thing, she’s committed to upholding democracy, as the EU defines the term. And one must admit that the EU definition raises the concept to a vertiginous height.
Its essence has a solid grounding in academic principles and practices. Just look at the process of sitting exams.
Having contemplated the problem posed by the examiner in the form of a multiple-choice question, students freely choose the answer reflecting their knowledge and intuition. Similarly, all voters are given a multiple choice of candidates, and they are free to choose the one that appeals most.
The parallel is working so far, isn’t it? Yes, but what happens if the answer chosen by a student is incorrect? Any formally educated person knows it: the hapless youth is made to resit the exam and keep doing so until he gets it right.
The EU applies the same principle to elections, thereby making them truly fair. For outside the EU, say in the US, democracy parts ways with the academy in that the result of any election is irreversible – this regardless of whether or not it’s right.
If applied to exams, such rigid formalism would be tantamount to what Americans would describe as ‘one strike and you’re out’ – while even baseball allows three. Applied to politics, such intransigence means sticking obdurately to the letter of democracy, while violating its spirit.
The EU, devoted as it is to true democracy, will have none of that. Neither will Turkey, proving that her political heartbeats are fully synchronised with the EU’s.
Thus President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to rerun the mayoral elections in Istanbul may be seen as a veiled application for EU membership, and it must be considered seriously and positively.
Whenever European students… sorry, I mean voters, have failed to vote the right way, the EU has always stepped in and kindly given them a second chance to pass. This generosity has invariably led to reversal everywhere, in France, Portugal, Ireland, Holland – and it’s about to succeed in Britain.
Extending the educational metaphor, Turkey has learned its lesson. On 31 March the denizens of Istanbul failed their exam by returning the opposition candidate. Proving how thoroughly President Erdogan has absorbed the EU spirit, he declared that a new vote would be held on 23 June.
“We see this decision as the best step that will strengthen our will to solve problems within the framework of democracy and law,” he said, making one wonder if his speech had been written by Jean-Claude Junker, who absorbs a bottle of the EU spirit every lunchtime.
The re-run, added Mr Erdogan, would constitute “an important step to strengthen our democracy” – and to reaffirm the democratic principles the EU holds sacred, he could have added.
Turkey’s EU approach to popular vote isn’t the only reason she should fit snugly into the European ethos. Let’s remind ourselves of the EU’s unwavering commitment to multiculturalism (otherwise known as ‘free movement of people’).
Admitting Turkey, with her 82 million Muslims, would strike a powerful blow for this sacred principle, especially if closely followed by the admission of Bosnia and Kosovo.
As founder, chairman and so far the only member of the Charles Martel Society for Diversity, I’d welcome this step with both hands (and feet, when the time comes).
Not only is Turkey fully aligned with the EU politically, she also marches in step with it economically. Her economy is in recession, which seems to be the standard towards which all EU economies seem to strive.
Fiscally, Turkey even marches ahead of the EU: unlike the euro, her currency has lost 30 per cent of its value in the past year. While this is highly commendable in principle, such a tempo of progress may create problems akin to those of an army vanguard advancing too fast and losing touch with the bulk of the force.
With sage foresight, however, the EU anticipated the potential for such problems and preempted them by introducing the euro. All Turkey has to do to stay in sync with her European partners is replace the lira with the euro and never look forward. Sorry, I mean back.
The case for admitting Turkey into the EU has become so compelling as to be irrefutable. Why, I’d even be prepared to sacrifice Britain’s membership to make room for that true champion of European unity.