In 1693, William Penn asserted that the Ottoman state be included only if it renounced Islam. Neumann and Welsh claim that this notion of an ‘entry requirement’ for European society has persisted even to the present day. Similarly, many European politicians clearly declared that Turkey was not a true European because its people were Muslim and belong to a different civilisation. As a matter of fact that, contrary to the official agenda of the European Union (EU), it is clear that Turkey-EU relations cannot be understood without referencing to the civilisational/cultural dimension. This study explores the role of the civilisational differences between the two sides in the relations.
The study assumes that neither the politics nor even the economics of the changing relationship can be understood aside from the historical background and cultural dimensions. Therefore the main hypothesis of this paper is that the present problems are mainly structural and rooted in the history of Turkey and Europe. In order to prove this; the study first of all attempts to find the motives behind Europe’s unwillingness about Turkey and Turkey’s European vocation (or obsession), and it firstly focuses on the conceptual and historical background. Then, the findings are applied to the EC/EU era. The second part in particular, looks at the factors that helped to Turkey’s integration with Europe, notably the Russian threat and the Col-War. Finally the last part is devoted to the post-Cold War years and examines whether the relations imply a clash of cultures or civilisations. The author here discusses the future of the relations in and possible impact of the Turkish full-membership on EU and European security.
1. Shadow of the History
What Made Europe European: The Role of the Turkish Image in Constructing the European Identity
‘Europe’ is a relatively modern idea and it did not mean a cultural, political unity during the ancient years. Geographically, Europe is one of the peninsulas of the Asian continent, like India or the Arabian Peninsula. Moreover, it does not have very clear natural borders to differ it from Asia. Furthermore, it was not one of the centres of classical civilisation, in contrast to the Middle East or China. In the words of Delanty, “there is little historical congruity between the modern notion of Europe as the West and the ancient idea of Europe”. For example, the Roman Empire was a Mediterranean state; and the Hellenic states and the Alexander’s empire were the Aegean-Asia Minor states. These states, which together with Christianity form the roots of the European identity, never claimed to be European. In the words of Hay, “For the Greeks, as later for the Romans, the word Europe was associated in the first place with myth rather than science.” The idea of Europe had little meaning for the Ancients, and did not mean a cultural or political entity. Although the idea of Europe began to emerge with the decline of the Greek civilisation, it was still a geographical concept, but not political or cultural. Likewise the Romans never had had a strong sense of a European identity; On the other hand, Boer claims that the association of Europe with political liberty, one of the three elements of the idea of Europe, was first made in ancient Greece, in the fifth century BC.. However we cannot find any evidence for this claim in his essay. The Roman civilisation, like the classic Greek civilisation, was spread over Mediterranean coasts. The heart of the Empire was the north and the south shore of the Mediterranean and the Romans belong to the ‘Eastern world’. At that time much of the European continent was inhabited or the home of the ‘barbarians’. As Delanty pointed out in his Inventing Europe, Roman ethnocentrism was focused, not on the idea of Europe, but on the myth of Rome as the centre of the world and for the Roman Empire Europe did not constitute a cultural model. Even Christianity could not change the Roman identity for a long time; in early Christian era to be a Christian was to be a Roman, not a European. That is to say, the Mediterranean Sea did not divide the peoples, but served to unite them. The cultural, religious and political differences between the north and the south was limited. During these years the European idea did not signify the western continent but rather expressed a vaguely defined Occident, the land of darkness, the land of the evening sun. territories.
However there is no doubt that Europe has, politically and demographically, been a unique entity as a continent since the demise of the Roman Empire. But again the idea of Europe was relatively unimportant and did not express the common values the ‘Europeans’ shared. The most important factor served to emerge of the European idea was external; the ‘barbarian attacks from the Asian steps and later the rise of Islam.
The economic problems, military defeats and natural disasters in the Central and Western Asia caused a huge migration and attacks from Asia to the European territories. The nomad Turkish and Mongolian tribes, notably Huns and Avars, poured into Europe. However, ‘the barbarian invasion’ could not create Europe and Europeans. They were not Easterners or non-Europeans but just ‘barbarian’ or nomad tribes and there were many nomad, barbarian tribes in Europe as well. As a matter of fact that most of them inhabited in Europe and, in time, they became ‘Europeans’ like Bulgarians. Although the legacy of the ‘barbarian invasion’ remained for the centuries and helped to form the fear of ‘Islamic invasion’, these tribe peoples did not challenge to the Mediterranean civilisations as an alternative. Many of them converted to Christianity and became the backbone of Christendom.
The rise of the Islam State was one of the most significant events during these centuries. In a short time Islam spread to a huge area from the Northern Africa to India and the Islam armies started to gain the control of the Mediterranean. In comparison to Islam ‘Europe’ was technologically backward and also weak in terms of military and economy. That is to say the northern shore of the sea was ill equipped to defend itself against the Muslim attacks. Moreover Islam was not only a religion but also the name of a political, economic and cultural system. That is to say it was, contrary to the barbarian attacks, Islam was an alternative to the existed systems. As noted earlier, the European territories were very vulnerable to attacks from the north and the East. With the rise of Islam, Christian peoples and the other European tribes were blocked in a relatively small geography, namely the north west of Europe. Now the Mediterranean divided the two cultures as the Islamic and Christian worlds. As a result, the Christian West was put on the defensive. With the Muslim victories in Iberian Peninsula and in Anatolia the Christian territories shrank to the Pyrenees and the Bosphorus. The conflicts between Muslim and Christian worlds served to the emergence of the idea of Europe. Europe became identical with the notion of a Christian world. Christianity was the most important element that the European tribes shared. As Delanty put it, “without the image of hostility afforded by Islam, the Christian West would have been unable to attain a single and high culture capable of unifying the diverse elements of European society”. Thus Christianity was transformed as a European religion, in other word, it was ‘westernised’ or ‘Europeanised’. As a matter of fact that Christianity was an eastern religion, but now there were significant differences between the Syrian, Byzantium Christianity and the Latin Christianity. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the Christendom became aware of that it was not the eastern Christendom or Christendom of Constantine, but an assertively western or Latin Christendom. 
As a result Christianity became to provide legitimating ‘ideology’ for the kings and increased the cultural homogeneity by uniting the peoples under the common religious values. In the crusades the unity of Europe and Christianity was mostly shaped. Henceforth, Europe was characterised by the European Christianity and the antagonism towards the Muslims became one of the unchangeable components of the European identity. In the words of Bartlett, “men who thought of themselves as living Christendom were conscious that the rest of the world was not Christendom”. For them, while the Europeans were living under Christendom, the others were under heathendom. (Christians Vs Paganismus).
In brief, Christianity was imprisoned in the continent by the Muslim attacks, and this deepened the differences between European and ‘others’. Thus, Europe gained its main character, which set the pluralistic European political and economic structures, such as feudalism and decentralisation. For many scholars, the culture and environment that emerged in Europe during these clashes can be called the first European civilisation. The crusades, in particular, nourished the idea of Europe and Europeans.
The Turks, ‘Muslimised Barbarians’, as the Cause of Europe
With the rise of the Seljuki Turks (Selcuklu Turkleri), the Turkish became ‘the sword of Islam’ and replaced the threat of the Arab Islamic Empire to the European countries. Thus the age-old conflict between Europe and the Arab Islamic State reproduced itself as a conflict between ‘the Muslim, Barbarian Turks’. Contrary to the previous threats, the Turkish armies were well organised and a permanent danger which would continue for centuries. As noted earlier, before the Turks, the Europeans had faced with “Barbarians, pagan tribes” and the Islamic menace. However, the Turks, who were originally the people of the steppes of the Central Asia, represented both of these dangers. For the Europeans, the Turks were ‘Muslimised Barbarians’. The Norman minstrel Ambroise writes of ‘the best Turks one could find in hethendom’. For many Christian Europeans the Turks had no wisdom, strength or virtue, but they succeed as God punished sinful Christians. They were the Scourge of God. For Gladstone, the Turks were much more dangerous than the other Muslims. He described the Turks as “a cruel people”: “What the Turkish race was, and what it is. It is not a question of Mohometism simply, but of Mahometism compounded with peculiar character of a race… They were, from the first black day they entered Europe, the one great anti-human specimen of humanity. Wherever they went, a broad line of blood marked the track behind them, and as far as their dominion reached, civilisation vanished from view.”
Likewise, Francis Bacon described the Turks as “a cruel, uncivilised, bloodthirsty savages: “…it is truly said concerning the Turk, where the Ottoman’s horse sets his foot, people come up very thin..” For many Europeans it was a terrifying environment which had been caused by “the terrible Turks”. (Brant’s well-known poem shows the degree of fear of the Turks in the European public:
“So strong the Turks have grown to be
They hold the ocean not alone,
The Danube too is now their own.
They make their roads when they will,
Bishoprics, churches suffer ill.
Now they attack Apulia,
Tomorrow e’en Sicilia
And next to its Italy,
Wherefore a victim Rome may be
And Lombardy and Romance land,
We have the arch foe close at hand…”
The hate against the Turks dramatically increased when the Turkish armies recaptured the territories that had been occupied by the Crusaders. The later Crusades failed miserably to recover lost land. Especially the conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul), which put an end to the Byzantium Empire in 1453, was a turning point. (???) The only thing that might unite the Europeans against the Ottomans was the religion, Christianity that provided common values for all the Europeans. Thus the religious and the secular authorities co-operated to unite the peoples and the states against the Turks. For example, before the siege of Constantinople, both the universal authorities in Christendom, the emperor in Sigismund’s time and the popes continuously, had made tremendous efforts to rouse Christian Europe to united activity in defence.
After the fall of Constantinople, Cardinal Bessarion, writing to the Doge of Venice saw the Turks as ‘the most inhuman barbarians’: “A city which was so flourishing… the splendour and glory of the East… the refuge of all good things, has been captured, despoiled, ravaged and completely sacked by the most inhuman barbarians… by the fiercest of wild beasts… Much danger threatens Italy, not to mention other lands, if the violent assaults of the most ferocious barbarians are not checked”.
With the fall of Constantinople, the Europeans were also forced to find another way to reach the East that led the discoveries, since the Ottomans blocked the way in south and east. Also, as a result of the isolation of Europe from the Mediterranean world, the idea of Europe became linked to a system of what was coming to be regarded as specifically European values.
In this framework, contrary to the present European indifference to the Turks, in medieval Europe the Turks were one of the most important international problems for the Europeans. Politicians and moralisers placed the Turk near the centre of every argument. For example, in France between in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, twice as many books were printed about the Turkish menace as about the Turkish threat as about the American discoveries”. The Europeans understood that it was impossible to overcome the Turks without a European coalition against them. To fend off this ‘evil’, all that was required was for Christians to repent, unite and take up the defence of the faith. In addition to the crusades, the European countries came together in the Holy Alliance (1571) and many other co-operative actions against the Turks. When the Ottomans put Vienna under siege, the West mobilised itself in an international campaign, Holy Alliance, financed by the pope. As a result of these co-operations, the Europeans felt that they were different from “the others”.
The Turkish threat was a vital factor for the unity of Christianity as well. For instance, when Timurlenk defeated the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid Turkish pressure on the West was relaxed, as a result, the internal contradictions in the universal church produced more divisions than before. However, the Turkish menace not only united the Christian sects and groups but also provided an environment for the political co-operation and unity among the European secular governments. For example, Burke claimed that Europe was virtually one great state, accentuating the cultural similitude throughout Europe of the monarchical principle of government, Christianity, the Roman law heritage, old Germanic customs and feudal institutions. Similarly, the other European integration ideas were also against the Ottomans, and were based on the Greek, Roman legacy and the Christian religion and culture. Vattel and Prandt described Europe as a kind of republic while Burke’s idea of Europe was that of a commonwealth. Likewise, in Voltaire’s Europe one of the main elements that formed Europe was religion:
“…a kind of great republic divided into several states, some monarchical, the others mixed… but all corresponding with one another. They all have the same religious foundation, even if divided into several confessions. They all have the same principle of public law and politics, unknown in other parts of the world.”
It can be said that these were the first attempts, or at least the early forms of the concept of the European Union. In 15th and 16th centuries Polish and Habsburg publicists began to suggest that their governments were defending European values. Although the ‘European Christendom’ concept was transformed to a secular European concept, nevertheless this transition from a religious to a secular term of identification did not involve the elimination of the Christian element. In 1693, when William Penn put forth his scheme for an organised European society of states, he asserted that the Ottoman state be included only if it renounced Islam.. In the words of Coles, “Profession of the Christian faith was still a necessary- and in eyes of most people much the most important- part of being a European”. Even after the Reformation and Enlightenment, the secular Europe was identified by Christianity as a common culture of the Europeans. For example, Fernand Braudel argues that, “a European, even if he is an atheist, is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition”, because, for Braudel, the Western Christianity is the main constituent in European thought. The true Europeans were the children of Greek, Roman civilisations and the Christendom even if they were not true Christians. For instance Erasmus exhorted the nations of Europe to a crusade against the Turks although he was no longer addressing the European states as the constituent powers of Christendom. According to historian Coles, the reason of the antagonism between the Europeans and the Turks was “the cause of Europe”.
Obviously, there was no room for the Turks in such a European structure, because the Turks represented violence, perverseness, injustice, in short, an uncivilised society. As Neumann and Welsh pointed out, in European eyes, the Turk, with his pagan and barbarian political culture, could not be incorporated into such a cultural consensus.
During these years, the Europeans used the terms ‘Turks’, ‘infidel’ and ‘Islam’ almost interchangeably, and the Turkish threat legacy played a vital role in making of the idea of Europe even in Germany, France and England, which were relatively invulnerable from the Turkish attacks and had a significant trade with the Ottomans. In Germany, for example, to Catholics and Lutherans alike, the Turk was like sin itself. The Turks were the Scourge of God. Likewise, although they had a very close relations with the Ottomans for many French Turk was not a part of Europe, even not human being. For example, after his travel to the Ottoman Empire, Nicole de Nicolay wrote that he had seen no human life in Turkey. In fact, his most of the descriptions were false because he described many institutions and places without seeing them, like the Harem.
Even in England, which was the most secure country from the Turkish attacks, the Turkish image was one of the factors in describing English justice and Europeanness. In the words of Beck, “from the middle of the sixteenth century, ‘Turk’ or ‘Turkish’ was applied to anyone having the so-called qualities of the Turks, i.e., cruelty, unmanageability, and general barbarity; or ‘Turk’ might be used as a name for targets on shooting ranges.” For instance, when Shakespeare described English justice he contrasted the English court with the Turkish court. In Henry V the King assures Katherine, daughter of the defeated Charles VI, that their son would be a young lion who “shall go to Constantinople and take the Turk by the beard”.
As could be seen from the pages of many Western writers, the Turk was described as different, as opposed to the rational, virtuous, mature and normal European. In brief, the Turkish pressure stimulated a process of self-examination, which led members of the European societies concerned increasingly to identify and distinguish themselves from the Ottoman enemy.
The Decline of the Ottoman Military Power and the Ottomans as ‘a Cultural Threat’
After the second siege of Vienna, the Ottomans reached the limits of their power, and in the 18th and 19th century the Ottoman pressure on the West dramatically declined. However, despite the decline in the European military threat, for the European peoples, ‘the cultural threat’ of the Turk remained, and even in the 19th and the early years of the 20th century, the Turkish image did not change. Although they were no more a military threat to Europe, Turks remained as the strangers in Europe. Julia Pardoe, on her visit to Istanbul in 1835, stressed this feeling: “There is, perhaps, no country under heaven where it is more difficult for an European to obtain a full and perfect insight into the national character than in Turkey”.
Also the minorities issue worsened the hostile image. The stereotype was renewed and strengthened by the struggles of the Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire to gain their independence from Istanbul. For example Gladstone, the British Prime Minister, used the Balkan Christian uprisings to legitimate his profoundly anti-Turkish foreign policy. He stereotyped the Turk as the one great anti-human specimen of humanity.
Despite the negative European perceptions of the Ottomans, of course there were some exceptions in which Europe ignored the differences between the two sides. The first exception, which resulted in the approval of Turkey’s European identity, at least for a while, by the European society was the Crimean War of 1854. In this war, the French and British troops helped the Turks against the Russians. At the end of the War, the Treaty of Paris (1856) recognised the Ottoman Empire as a European power. However this did not mean an ultimate approval of Turkey’s European identity. The reasons were the British Russophobia and the French’s internal considerations. As a matter of fact, for the Europeans, there was no difference between the Russians and the Turks, neither of them were ‘true Europeans’. Therefore, despite the Turkish victory, the allies of the Turks punished both sides after the war. Thus the approval of the Ottoman’s Europeanness lasted very short and the European powers continued their policies to weaken the Empire.
In fact, on many occasions the Turks declared their wish to become a part of the European society. Also the Ottoman society was neither isolated nor closed to the external world, on the contrary it showed an exceptional capacity for absorbing or assimilating foreign elements. Thus the Ottomans became the European Muslims and a huge gap emerged between the European Muslims and the Eastern Muslims that lasted until today. That is to say the Ottomans did not identified themselves with a continent or territory but culture, which was a product of a multi-religious, multi-racial society. Moreover, contrary to the Mongol attacks, since the first day the Turkish tribes entered the European territories they aimed to settle down there, but not destroy the cities. In 18th and 19th centuries the military failures in the Balkans forced the Ottomans to find allies to stop the collapse of the Empire. Furthermore, those who were educated in the Western-type education system advocated that the empire had to integrate with Europe in terms of politics, economics and culture. The Turkish secular elite sincerely believed that the European civilisation had been based on the secular values, democratic political system and some other objective criteria; and the Empire could adopt these values although its religion was Islam. For example, the theorist of Turkism, Ziya GÖkalp (1874-1924) described being European, Turkism and Muslim: “Once we say that ‘we belong to the Turkish nation’, we will begin to show in our language, aesthetics, morals and law and even in theology and philosophy the originality and personality which befit Turkish culture, taste and consciousness. Once we say that ‘we belong to the Islamic Community’ the holy Quran will become, for us, the most sacred book, the Prophet Muhammed the most sacred person, the Ka’ba the most sacred shrine, and Islam the most sacred religion. And once we say that ‘we belong to Western civilisations’ we will behave as real Europeans in science, philosophy, technology and other civilising fields.”
However despite the Ottoman enthusiasm and the growing secularisation of European politics, Europe could not accept the Turks as European. In addition to the cultural gap, the Turks had missed the major European developments, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the French and the Industrial revolutions, which made Europe a new Europe. Thus the wide gap of income, growth, life-style and modernity increased between the Ottoman Empire and Europe. The huge cultural gap and the religious rivalry helped the negative Turkish image in the mind of the ordinary European. Also one of the main cause of this was the lack of communication. For example the travellers who saw Turkey and understood the Turkish culture wrote very positive book and letters about the Turks. Lady Mary was one of them. After the years in Turkey claimed in her The Turkish Embassy Years that the Europeans’ views about the Turks were completely wrong. According to her letters the main cause of this image was the ignorant tradesmen and lack of accurate information about the Turks. However, many European writers continue to write about the Turks and the Ottoman institutes although they never visited Turkey or never seen Harem, Turkish public baths or Turkish café, like Richard Knolles or John Evelyn. As a result, European society did not see the Turks as ‘true, normal Europeans’ until the end of the Ottoman Empire.
2. The Republican Years, The Same Prejudices
The demise of the Ottoman Empire did not put an end to the European Turkish perception: The Turks established a modern and secular Republic and declared that they wanted to be a true part of the European civilisation, however, although they welcomed the Kemalist reforms, the Europeans did not see the Turks as true Europeans. In these years the Europe’s prejudiced policies towards Turkey turned into an indifferent policy, and the cultural factor played almost no role in Turkey-Europe relations in 1920-30s. When the War began Turkey’s location and political support for the West became very vital against the fascist German and Italian attacks. Thus, during the war years, Turkey became one of the most important actors of the European diplomacy. Both sides tried to persuade Turkey to join the war in its side. However when the war circumstances were over, the West’s indifferent Turkey policy reappeared.
In the post-War years, in spite of the fact that for the Europeans the Turks were not ‘true European’ Turkey had to be accepted as an equal partner, because the world now was not divided into the Europeans and non-Europeans but the Communists and the Capitalists. In another words the Communists had become the ‘others’ in making the Western identity and unity. Surprisingly, the Communists, like the Turks had been a few hundred years ago, were accused for ‘the similar sins’ such as being infidel, barbarian, aggressive, enemy of the European civilisation etc. Simply, for the West, the conflict was between the evil and the good, but not between the Communists and the Capitalists. Modernity had rejected God and Satan but still demanded a distinction between Chosen and Unchosen; in other words Self and Other. God’s successors were now ‘our nation’, ‘our values’ or ‘our home’. That is to say the new ‘Others’ were the Communists. Delanty describes the change as “Russia took place the place of the fallen Ottoman Empire and, instead of Islam, communism fulfilled the adversarial role”. That is to say, of course, the European Communities (EC) were not established to create a Christian club. Nothing in the Treaty of Rome or any unwritten rule required EC member states to be Christian. However this did not mean that the old European values and habits died. The old main components of the European idea were still there. When one said ‘European’ all Europeans could understand a certain concept, and it was clear that culturally this concept did not include Turkey, although it was legally-speaking a European State. For practical purposes the term ‘Europe’ was commonly mentioned as the name of the Capitalist part of the continent. Also the religious solidarity was still one of the essential of the European identity and the foundations of the European integration movements. Despite the Cold War circumstances, Rene Albert-Carrie defined Europe like this: “… one of the major components of the idea and the culture that are Europe is undoubtedly the Christian and the territorial domain of Europe may roughly be equated with what that of Christendom.” Similarly Charles Hodges, professor of politics, saw international relations as ‘the conflict of civilisations and cultures’ in 1931. For him, Christianity was the main component the concept of the Western civilisation. As noted above, historian Braudel argues that “a European, even if he is an atheist, is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition”, because, for Braudel, the Western Christianity is the main constituent in European thought.
3. Back to the Crusades?
As discussed, the historical prejudices did not played a significant role in Turkey-EC relations in most of the Cold War years, though most of the Europeans did not consider Turkey as a true European country. There was a balance in the EC’s policy vis-à-vis Turkey and the other candidates and the same criterion were applied to all candidates. However, global economic and political crises and Turkey’s and the EC’s internal problems, but not the cultural/civilisational considerations, retarded Turkey’s economic and political integration to the EC. Yet these technical difficulties produced an environment, which is very suitable to exploit the cultural differences. Also, the EC, paralleling the decline in the Cold War, realised that Turkey was not a ‘normal’ European country and, the EC saw that it did not have to give full membership Turkey to keep Turkey in servicing to the Western security system. Thus, even Turkey’s Europeanness was questioned by the EC during these years. Turkey’s economic problems, fragile democracy, high population growth and its different cultural background made afraid the EC about a possible Turkish application. Moreover, now Greece, Spain and Portugal were in the queue, and a Turkey’s application might have blocked the other country’s accession. In other words, the EC regretted what it had promised Turkey in the 1950s and the 1960s. Birand likens the EC’s promises to Turkey, which were committed in the Ankara Agreement and the Additional Protocol, to sins of “youth years”. According to this, the EC had promised Turkey “to get marry” but it later understood that “this marriage was impossible.”(42)
As a result of these factors, the 1970s and 80s were the crises years for Turkey-EU relations and this caused an environment suitable to exploit the historical biases. During the 1970s Turkey had to overcome all the problems without the EC support, ordinary Turkish thought that the EC countries encouraged the terrorist movements and economic catastrophe in Turkey. Turkey’s all economic and political demands were rejected by the EC. Besides the most destructive one was the EC’s attitude towards Turkey in the problems with Greece because Turkey regarded the problems between Greece and Turkey as a litmus test of the EC’s impartiality. Until the 1920s the European countries had supported the Greek side because of its religion and now Turkey was worried about whether the EC’s Turkey policies were mainly determined by the historic Turkish stereotype or by objective criterion. Therefore the next pages will examine the EC’s attitude towards Greece and Turkey and the role of the cultural factors.
The Post-Cold War Years and the Rejection of the Turkish Application
Although Turkey had been warned not to apply and the two members of the Community, namely Germany and Greece, were openly opposed her application Turkey applied for full-membership in 1989. The EC, which was in a historical structural change program to complete, found the application an unwelcome embarrassment. The Commission’s Opinion took thirty months, which was the longest period compared with the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese applications. The reluctance of the EC was clear. The Commission had tried to postpone the declaration of its negative opinion. According to the Opinion, the EC could not initiate any enlargement negotiations before 1993 at the earliest because of the single European Market programme. As a result, the Commission declared that neither Turkey nor the EC was ready to open enlargement negotiations. However for many scholars and politicians, like Ozal, former Turkish Prime Minister, these were not the real reasons but just fake reasons. Ozal claimed: “ They (the Europeans are trying to isolate Turkey from Europe and exclude us from the European Community”.
It was obvious that the EC had a hidden agenda, and as Huntington underlined this fact: “while the elite of Turkey has defined Turkey as a Western society, the elite of the West refuses to accept Turkey as such”. Unfortunately, Europe’s the strongest country’s, Germany’s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl undertook to establish a Europe based on the cultural differences. Kohl saw the common European values and religious solidarity as the ideology of the European integration. In 1995, Kohl expressed some objectives of the new Europe: “Our aim must be build an ecumenical bridge,… from the monasteries and cathedrals of Kiev and Moscow. For Kohl the ideology of the European integration was the common European culture, but not modernity, pluralism or solely secular values.
The Luxembourg Disaster: Turkey’s or the EC’s Identity Crisis
The EU’s indifference policies towards Turkey peaked at the end of the 1990s. Before the Luxembourg Summit, the EU had not officially openly declared that Turkey was not part of Europe, but accused Turkey of failure to improve her economy and human rights records. However 1997 was a disaster year for Turkey-EU relations because, maybe first time in Turkey-EU history, the EU officially implied that Turkey would not be accepted as a full-member due to her culture and civilisation. Many European leaders and representatives openly declared that Turkey was not a serious candidate. First of all, in European Christian Democrat parties’ meeting in 1997, Kohl confirmed his ideal Europe dream by asserting that Turkey was excluded from Europe because it was part of a different civilisation. Similarly the Belgian Chairman of the meeting said: “In our view Turkey cannot be candidate for EU membership. We are in favour of extensive co-operation with Turkey, but the European project is a civilisational project. Turkey’s candidature for full membership is unacceptable.” After these announcements, it was not surprise for Turkey that Klaus Kinkel, German Foreign Minister, declared that Turkey would never be invited to join Europe. On 10th July 1997, Jacques Santer, president of the Commission, declared that Turkey had no realistic chance of becoming a member of the Union because of its size, Islamic culture and its human rights records. In 1997 Luxembourg Summit Turkey was put into a separate category from all other applicants.
The main problems for the Commission in 1989 application were economic: the economic gap, the Turkish economic structure, the size of the Turkish population so on. However the decision of the Luxembourg Summit cannot be explained simply by the economic factors because it even did not stress on the economic issues. As a matter of fact that the Turkish economy was no worse than that of any of the countries considered candidate. According to the Commission’s Reflection Paper of 1997 Turkish economy showed a remarkable improvement and Turkey was in the best position among the applicants in terms of internal debt, employment and production growth rate. Also the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg confirmed this: “Turkey has no problem for membership in terms of economics. The Turkish economy is much healthier than the Polish or Hungarian economy”. While the Summit considered the other 10 applicants plus Cyprus as ‘official candidates’ for EU entry, it did not confer the same status on Turkey. For the EU, Turkey was just an applicant although it was the EU’s the longest standing associate and had the oldest formal relationship that the EU had with any third country. Ironically, Santer and Van Den Broek claimed that the Luxembourg Summit had been a political victory for Turkey because the EU accepted Turkey’s right to become full-member in a day in future.
After the summit, maybe for the first time in history, most of the Turkish people, politicians, even Turkish Foreign Ministry, which has been the most enthusiastic pro-western institution in Turkish, believed that even if Turkey became richer and more democratic than the EU countries, it would not be accepted as full-member of the EU, because the EU refuses Turkey because of its religion, culture and civilisation. The possibility of that Turkey never become a part of the European society has shocked the Turkish elite because, as noted earlier, being a part of the European world was perceived as ‘the cause of the modern Turkey’. Thus, the pro-Western forces in Turkey were seriously weakened in their struggle against Islamic tendencies. In an ordinary Turkish’s mind they were wrong, the West was a Christian club. As a result, the Turkish government rejected the Summit decisions on 14 December 1997.
September 11th and the Changing Nature of the Relations
In following years, the collapse of the Christian Democrat power in Germany and the critics for the EU’s ‘biased’ Turkish policy forced the Brussels to reconsider Turkey’s position, and the EU adopted a more conciliatory attitude towards Turkey. However the most important factor in changing European Turkish policy was 11th September Attacks. These attacks underlined the ‘civilisational conflict’ as main characteristic of international relations and the American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan with the radical Islamist terrorist attacks underlined the ‘East-West hostility’. Thus a theory, Huntington’s the clash of civilisation, became a reality as a result of the radicals’ efforts and the Western states’ policies. Here we will not discuss neither the theory nor the American policies. However it is clear that if the EU does nothing to prevent the process, the US is not able to put an end to the hostility between the different cultures. Actually we are not sure the whether US’ intention is to stop the radicals in both sides or to use them in its foreign policy. However we are definitely sure that European security is under threat of ‘the clash of civilisations’. It is unfortunate that the EU took no significant step in preventing the cultural radicalism. Instead of that it - intentionally or not - encouraged the misunderstood in both sides:
After the demise of the Soviet Union, the first conflicts erupted in former Yugoslavia and Caucasia. As a matter of fact that the EU and its member did very little in preventing the conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Kosova, Chechnya and Karabakh. Thousands of people lost their lives and the masses understood that the EU was not able to protect themselves from the ethnic and religio-ethnic wars. The peoples lost their belief on the written agreements and the official commitments. In Yugoslavia, the US led and organised the international community and after many tragic events, massacres, the Serbian attacks against the Bosnian and Albanian (both are Muslim) peoples can be stopped. In Caucasia about 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories were occupied by the Armenians with Russian military and political assistance, and in Chechnya the Russian army has used the most inhuman methods: the houses were destroyed, people were tortured, and many civilians were killed or forced to live under bad conditions. In all these conflicts the European Union did almost nothing and the tragedy of the Bosnians, Kosova Albanians, Azerbaijanis and Chechens (all Muslim) has given a clear message to the Muslim world. Now, the main characteristic of the Muslim European perception is victimisation. Thanks to the radical and terrorist Islamist groups and the Western confirmation, the masses tend to believe in civilizational polarisation between the Christian West and the Muslim countries.
After the Cold War 13 European countries have joined the EU as full-members, while the all European Muslim countries (Turkey, Bosnia, Albania, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and Azerbaijan) are still outside, and some of the EU representatives imply that Turkey, the EU’s longest standing associate, cannot be EU member due to its religion or culture. We do not imply that the EU is a Christian club, or it is racial or religiously discriminative. Yet it can be argued that the European policies did not help to ease the problems caused by the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ understanding. Furthermore the security experiences in the 1990s clearly showed that the ethnic and religious wars could be spread to the other regions of the continent. In addition, many EU members are now multi-national countries and they are home for millions of immigrants from all over the world. Any conflict between the cultures and civilisations obviously will threaten the stability of the major states of the EU. If the EU will be late in forming a common foreign and security policy to prevent the clash of civilisations perspective, it will be too late and all Europe will be under a dangerous, epidemic problem. As a result the EU will not only face an ethnic and religious conflict environment, but also it will lose its economic competition power as it will have to spend more and more on the clashes.
Under these circumstances Turkey’s membership would help a lot to European security by bridging the cultural differences in the continent. Also Turkey’s Islamic understanding would provide prescription to radicalism among the Muslims. It can be understood that many Europeans still do not consider the Turks as true Europeans and even supporters of Turkish membership see Turkish membership as just a political necessity. Actually this shows that very little has changed in the European mind regarding the Turks. However, the circumstances have changed radically, and now the both sides have responsibility to keep peoples and civilisations from clashing. A possible Turkish full membership may provide an engagement between the civilisations and the EU and Turkey can prove that the European values are not only belong to the Christian Europeans but to all Europeans from different religions.
Macro-identities, such as the national idea or religious world-views, are more commonly divisive than unifying and are frequently products of enforced and violent homogenisation. The idea of Europe is no exception. The history of Europe is the history not only of its unifying ideas, but also of its divisions and frontiers, both internal and external. As an invented identity, the idea of Europe was constructed in a historical process. First step was making a European identity. In the words of Delanty, “Identification takes place through the imposition of otherness in the formation of a binary typology of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The purity and stability of the ‘we’ is guaranteed first in the naming, then in the denomination and, finally, in the cleansing of otherness.” As will be seen, after the ‘barbarian’ and Arab-Islam Empire attacks, the Turks played a vital role as ‘others’ in the making of the European identity. The Turks were perceived as ‘Muslimised Barbarians’ for a long time. Thus, although have been in the European continent and their ‘states have been empirically European states, for the other Europeans they were not ‘true Europeans’. During the 19th and 20th centuries the world has been considerably transformed. While the Turks accepted the European values as a way of life, the other European countries recognised liberal democracy as the symbols of being civilised and modern. After the Second World War the majority of the free world identified itself with the universal values, such as pluralism, democracy and liberalism, but not the religious or regional values. Thus, for the past 50 years, Turkey participated in the activities of practically all-international bodies involved in European integration like the EU, NATO, the Council of Europe, OECD etc. When the Cold War ended Turkey was the European Union’s (EU) longest standing associate and had the oldest and most long-standing formal relationship that the EU had with any third country. During the Cold War years the historical role of the Turks in the making of the European identity had played almost no role. However, with the end of the Cold War the concepts of the world politics changed dramatically. Some Western academicians, like Huntington, claimed that the cultural and religious differences would be latest phase in the evolution of conflict in the modern world. In this framework, it was predicted that Turkey would inevitably excluded from the European political-cultural system. Since the end of the Cold War Turkey’s almost all demand, except the Customs Union, have been rejected by the EU. The representatives of the Union implied that Turkey would never be a full-member while some of the leaders of the EU members declared that Turkey’s candidature for full-membership was unacceptable because Turkey was not part of the European civilisation. After the 11 September Attacks Turkey’s cultural and geo-political position became important again for Europe and the EU adopted a more conciliatory attitude towards Turkey.
Turkey-EU relations cannot be seen simply as economic or political relations. Also, as has been seen, Turkey-EU relations is unique. The cultural/civilisational factors in the relations have proved that Turkey has not been an ordinary applicant for the EU but an element that revealed Europe and EU’s identity crises. Now, beyond Turkey’s Europeanness, the EU has to decide what made Europe European and what the European values are, whether the religious, historic, cultural prejudices or the universal values such as pluralism, human rights, modernity and democracy. The answers of these questions are very important, not only for Turkey but also for the other Muslim Europeans, like Bosnians, Albanians and the other millions living in France, Germany etc. Obviously, it would not be a very easy task to overcome the stereotypes and the historical biases because the myths are our invention, but at the same time we are theirs. Therefore the EU must be a platform for the Muslim and Christian Europeans, not a barrier.
As a final word, as the Economist put it, “Europe cannot decide that it needs Turkey’s geopolitical help, and then slam the door in Turkey’s face. Turkey has as much right to join the EU when the Turks have met the necessary conditions, as any of the other applicants “ and in the words of Mango, the problem is not “enlargement of the EU” but “enlargement of the European mind”.
Sedat LAÇİNER: Director, International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO – USAK), & IR Lecturer, Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University.
BA (Ankara University), MA (University of Sheffield, UK), PhD (King’s College, University of London).
* Chairman, Strategic Research Centre in Gallipoli & IR Lecturer, Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University. E-mail: email@example.com
 Iver B. Neumann and Jennifer Welsh, The Other in European Self-Definition, Nupi Paper, Nr. 445, May 1991, p. 20.
 Norman Davies, Europe, A History, (London: BCA, 1996), p. 7.
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 Pim den Boer, p. 13
 David Gress in his From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Opponents (New York: The Free Press, 1998) claims that turning the Greeks into the first Westerners is to misunderstand both the Greeks and the West.
 Delanty, p. 21.
 Delanty, p.22.
 Geoffrey Parker (ed.), The Times Atlas of World History, (London: BCA, 1994).
 Delanty, p. 24.
 Delanty, p.27.
 Robert Bartlett, The Making of Europe, Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950-1350, (London: Penguin Books, 1993), p. 254
 Bartlett, p.253.
 Ilhan Tekeli and Selim Ilkin, Turkiye ve Avrupa Topluluğu-I (Turkey and the European Community-I), (Ankara: Umit Yayincilik, 1993, p. 37
 McKay, Hill and Buckler, A History of Western Society, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), p. 225
 Quoted in Robert Bartlett, p.254
 Brandon H. Beck, p.24
 Quoted in Andrew Wheatcroft, The Ottomans, Dissolving Images, (London: Penguin Books, 1995), p. 234
 Andrew Wheatcroft, The Ottomans, Dissolving Images, (London: Penguin Books, 1995), p. 231
 Robert Schwoebel, The Shadow of the Crescent: The Renaissance Image of the Turk, 1453-1517, Nieuwkoop, B. de Graaf, 1967), p. 217.
 Maurice Keen, Medieval Europe, (London: Penguin Books, 1991), p. 312.
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 Delanty, p.30.
 Margaret Aston, The Fifteenth Century: The Prospect of Europe, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1968), p. 10.
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 Delanty, p.51.
 Denys Hay, Europe, The Emergence of an Idea, (Edinburg: …, 1957) p. 68.
 Neumann and Welsh, p.22.
 Quoted by Hay, p. 123.
 Paul Coles, "The Ottoman Impact on Europe", London: Thames and Hudson, 1968), p.149.
 Neumann and Welsh, p. 20
 Coles, p.149.
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 Coles, p.148.
 Neumann and Welsh, p. 22
 Wheatcraft, p. 239
 Neumann and Welsh, p.22.
 Brandon H. Beck, From the Rising of the Son, English Images of the Ottoman Empire to 1715, (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1987), p. 19.
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 Iver B. Neumann and Jennifer Welsh, p. 21; Andrew Weatcroft, The Ottomans, Dissolving Image, p. 139.
 Suheyla Artemal, ‘Cultural Norms within the Context of Turco-European Relations’, in Turkey and Europe in a Cultural Context, (Cambridge: University of Cambridge, 1988), pp.30-35, p.30.
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 Rene Albert-Carrie, The Unity of Europe: An Historical Survey, (London: Secker&Warburg, 1965), p. 334.
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 Stephen Kinzer, ‘Turks Say Bonn is Encouraging Racist Attacks’, The New York Times, April 5, 1997.
 Andrew Mango, Turkey and the Enlargement of the European Mind, pp.171-192.
 Richard Burt, ‘Are We Losing Turkey?’, The Wall Street Journal, 21.6.1997.
 Lionel Barber, ‘EU Enlargement, Estonia and Slovenia to Join Eastern States’, The Financial Times, 11 July 1997.
 ‘Dark in the East’, The Economist, 1 August 1998, p.16.
 Ferai Tinc, ‘Göz Kamaştırıcı Ama Yeterli Değil’ Hürriyet,, Istanbul Turkish Daily, 7 July 1997.
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 Reginald Dale, ‘EU Needs to Make Up With Turkey’, International Herald Tribune, 5 May 1998.
 The power change in Turkey and the Erdoğan government was another important reason, yet this is not in scope of this study.
 Gerard Delanty, Inventing Europe, (London: Macmillan, 1995), p.3.
 Ibid., p.5
 Samuel Huntington, ‘The Clash of Civilisations?’, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, 22-49, p.22.
 Andrew Mango, ‘Turkey and the Enlargement of the European Mind’, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.132, No.2, April 1998, pp.171-192, p.171.
 ‘Dark in the East’, The Economist, p. 16, 1 August 1998.