Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Question 1: Open NATO and Closed EU

As if celebrating New Year, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union on January 1. Further eastward expansion of the EU is a vital agenda for security of Europe in the post-Cold War era. But I have to mention one nation, which has been on the waiting list for decades. That is Turkey. The issue of Turkish membership symbolizes closed nature of the EU and open nature of NATO. Why one is so accommodating, while the other is so exclusive?

Embracing Turkey to the European Union will bring considerable advantages to the Western alliance. As a bridge between Islam and the West, Turkey will be a keystone to advance Western ideal of liberal democracy further into the Middle East and Central Eurasia. This country may not be sufficiently liberal and democratic as major nations in Western Europe. However, it is very important to keep it in mind that Turkey has been pursuing the goal of secularization, Westernization, and modernization since the revolution by Kemal Ataturk. This is still in progress. Once accepted, Turkey will be a primary base for US-led initiative to prevail democracy throughout the Islamic world. This is the first step toward a positive domino in this region. In addition, Turkish membership will enable the West to curb Russian and Chinese influence in the vast area along the Silk Road, abundant of energy resource. Moreover, the West can pressure Iran through this positive domino.

Historically, Turkey has kith and kin relations throughout vast areas of the Turkic-Persian civilization from Anatolia to Xinjian. Brave horse riders, Turks founded kingdoms in Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Northern India, and Anatolia. This is a great advantage to be a bridge between the East and the West, and a key base for a positive domino for liberal democracy and enlightenment.

Yet, a substantial number of Europeans insist that Europe should be a homogeneous Christian world. But is Europe really a single Christendom? Certainly, it was during the age of crusade. The Christendom has already been divided in to two spheres: one is Christendom of the pope, and the other is Christendom of citizens. It is already a multi-cultural and multi-religious world. Instead of rejecting Turkey, simply because of Islam, Europeans should focus on common bonds with this country.

Turkey is the only Islamic nation successfully pursuing the goal of Kemalist enlightenment. Turkey shares common values with Europeans. More importantly, it inherits civilization and the territory of the Byzantine Empire. In addition, the Ottoman Empire hired assimilated Europeans, called jeni sarries.

Continually rejected, Turkish people feel resented that Europeans do not admit their effort to satisfy the qualification for EU membership. I am seriously concerned that this would give rise to Islamic radicalism.

Come to think of it, the EU has been too cautious to accept new members. It is too well known that Britain spent almost a decade to join the European Community. On the other hand, NATO accommodated West Germany shortly after the allied forces completed their missions for occupation rule. Today, NATO is discussing future membership for Japan, Australia, and even for South Korea. On the other hand, the EU has never considered membership for the United States and Canada.

What makes such a tremendous difference? In any case, an EU as open as NATO will bring considerable gifts and advantages to Western strategy of prevailing liberal democracy throughout the world. This is the reason why I am asking this question in this post.

Congratulation and happy New Year, our fellow Romanians and Bulgarians! Also, Happy New Year, our fellow Turkish!