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July 7, 2013 1:06 pm

In Terms of Civilization, Turkey is Not Part of Europe

avatar by Daniel Pipes

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Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Photo: wiki commons.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble made a statement not often heard from high-up Europeans concerning Turkey’s bid to join the European Union: “We should not accept Turkey as a full member … Turkey is not part of Europe.” Is he right?

Geographically, no. As commonly understood, Europe ends at the Bosporus and, thus defined, the Republic of Turkey clearly includes European territory. But by that standard, had history turned out a bit differently, Morocco rather than Great Britain could have held Gibraltar these past centuries; would that make Morocco part of Europe? I think not. Likewise, Eastern Thrace (Doğu Trakya in Turkish) being part of Turkey does not make Turkey part of Europe.

Conversely, because Great Britain, Ireland, and Iceland are islands in the Atlantic Ocean does not prevent them from being part of Europe (despite the memorable British newspaper headline from the 1940s, “Fog in Channel: Continent cut off”).

In other words, what counts is civilization, not waterways. Morocco and Turkey are both for many centuries part of Dar al-Islam, the Muslim world, Islamdom, call it what you will. Atatürk’s reforms, to be sure, made Turkey appear more European and less Islamic but they did not change the essence of the country’s culture, as has been increasingly evident during the past decade.

So, Schaeuble is right where it counts: Turkey is not part of Europe and should not become a full member of the European Union.

This article was originally published by National Review Online.

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  • Haluk

    When it comes to Turkey, it is clear that European politicians will go with whatever excuse they can dream up. This kind of discussion is useless, except when you need to rationalize your irrational tendencies.

    From my perspective, EU is a sham; it is selective in its application of principles and governance. Just like a commercial entity trying to maximize its “profits” without adhering to any moral principles.

  • Orkhun

    Yet Turkey and before Ottoman Empire and other Turkish civilizations, shaped, changed and effected most of Europe specially Eastern Europe. It is a fact that without Turkish history and culture some European Union members which are accepted as Europeans wouldn’t have any history or culture they are part of same history and culture, better see the situation from the real perspective.

    • dr andrew michael

      What utter tosh, Europe has had a history of more than 5000 years. Typical arrogance where a Turk thinks they are responsible for European history. Next you will say Greece had no civilisation before the Ottomans arrived. That too is tosh. prof andrew michael

    • Tony Bamber

      Some Eastern areas of Europe would not have had “any” history or culture without Turkish influence! What do you think they would have disappeared without the Turks. To be sure the Turks have influenced [some would say for the worse] European history/culture but they are not responsible for it.

  • Mandy Lrigeht

    Click-bait. Is European, is not European: That’s basically a technicality and academic. Norms, genetics, values: not much different from most poor East European countries really. So you prefere spires of churches versus minarets of a mosque: whatever takes your fancy.

  • joe

    It’s good to see that a European official has the courage to stand up to Islamic expansionism.