Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"Politically incorrect, xenophobic, racist and who knows what else"

Nope, not the usual UKIP suspects, but - supposedly - European politicians' real reactions to the proposed Turkish accession to the EU:

Even after 40 years of attempts to get closer, Brussels and Ankara are still strangers. That could be due to the fact that many correspondents don't know Turkey and the Turks from first-hand experience. For many Germans, the image of Turkey is still dominated by their experience of Turkish immigrants, many of whom came from rural areas of Anatolia with limited education and a tendency to stick closely to their own cultural circles.

Even for those in Brussels who've actually been to Turkey, the image doesn't improve much, often limited to the stereotype of gold-chained rip-off artist who preys on tourists in resort hotels.

Few know much about Turkey's up-and-coming business elite, the new hipsters with money to burn, the students in Istanbul's trendy neighborhoods or the successful businessman, who exports his products throughout the world.

Add to all that a hysterical fear of an emergent, "dangerous" Islam, and the picture loses any semblance of truth.
There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about possible Turkish membership, which is why the debates will be heated, but this sort of silly attitude is the most counter-productive it's possible to take.

I mean yes, obviously Turkey has some major social problems (a friend of mine was robbed, stabbed and left for dead by a taxi driver when on holiday there), but shouldn't the real fears be about the suddenly massively-extended border, which would be touching on a number of unstable, supposedly terrorist-supporting states? Shouldn't we be worried about the state-sponsored torture and human rights abuses? Shouldn't the real concern be the Turkish economy?

If we're going to start attacking countries because of national stereotypes and the experiences we had on holiday, why the hell is mafia-dominated Italy part of the EU, zooming around on their scooters? Why have we allowed the militaristic Germans in with their tendency to put their towels on the best seats by the pool? What about the new states of Eastern Europe, packed full of wideboy cowboy builders in shell suits? What about Greece, riven with corruption, and where sweet, innocent English girls are raped every summer in their resorts? How about Britain, with her snobby, holier-than-thou attitude, rising teenage pregnancy levels, and soaring gun crime?

This sort of thing is bad enough when it comes from the Daily Mail, but if this kind ignorant petty-mindedness can't be overcome, there will be little hope of sorting out the on-going social problems withing the EU, let alone those outside its borders. Turkey blatantly isn't ready to join the EU yet, but for reasons of economics, human rights and security, not because Turkish people are a bit dodgy.

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