Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New Word: "Turcophile"

I rather like Dan Hannan's latest post about how shockingly bad the treatment of Turkey has been - and still is - by the EU (in reality, when it comes to Turkey, the semi-racist France and the fully racist Germany). This probably telegraphs my ignorance, but he also taught me a new word: "Turcophile". I like this word and I'm going to use it in polite conversation from now on. I also like the concept it denotes: admiration for Turkey and Turkish people. And, it seems, I'm not the only one. David Cameron is a Turcophile too. But that was always to be expected, says Hannan, for he is a hard line traditionalist Tory at heart and always has been. Yet there is a lot more to his Turcophilia (?) than mere nostalgia and tradition, and a lot more at stake should the EU (Germany) be permitted to ostracise Turkey any longer. As Hannan says:
I have argued before that David Cameron is a remarkably traditional Tory, and his attitude to Turkey is as traditional as they come. His – my – party has been Turcophile since Derby’s leadership a century and a half ago. (So, come to that, has The Daily Telegraph, which broke with Gladstone over his anti-Ottoman policy in 1877, and has been Tory ever since.) Cameron’s reasons for backing Ankara’s EU membership bid are solidly Conservative: Turkey guarded Europe’s flank against the Bolshevists for three generations, and may one day be called on to do the same against the jihadis. In the circumstances, the PM believes, Turks are being treated ungratefully by their allies.
To me, the "guardians of the flank against the jihadis" argument for halting Turkey's shabby treatment by German politicians in particular is bullet proof. But what about EU membership? Well, it seems to me that the EU is slightly worse at foreign policy than the last Labour government - utterly appalling in other words. Who'd want to be associated with an organisation that appears to be quite adept at upsetting all of the people all of the time while simultaneously being completely unable actually to do anything, anywhere, ever. Furthermore, if you accept the real motives behind the EU's passive-aggressive bureaucratic obstructionism over Turkish membership are ones of national self-interest on the parts of the usual suspects, then you realise that this translates as outright hostility in terms of international relations, whether it comes via Brussels or not. Why on earth would Turkey want to be a part of any of that? (Why on earth do we, for heaven's sake!).

As Hannan says:
For what it’s worth, if I were Turkish, I would be against EU membership. Turkey is a dynamic country with – in marked contrast to the EU – a young population. The last thing it needs is the 48-hour week, the Common Agricultural Policy, the euro and the rest of the apparatus of Brussels corporatism. Why tie yourself to a shrinking part of the world economy; when you have teeming new markets to your east? Why submit to rule by people who barely trouble to disguise their contempt for you?
Good question. He answers it, too.
There is a difference, though, between choosing not to join and being told that you’re not good enough to join. Turks are as entitled to their pride as any other people. The way they have been messed around can hardly fail to make them despise the EU. Which, in the broader sweep of history, is likely to hurt the EU more than it does Turkey.
Now, you know as well as I do that Hannan is a smart dude. He's not just talking about Turkey, is he? (Or was that obvious?) He's talking about us, too. The reason why up to 70% of the UK's adult population if not despises then mistrusts the EU is because they feel the cold blast of its contempt for their beliefs, traditions, sense of independence, history, national identity and sovereignty every day. That's why I'm pretty certain Hannan is on to something here, and so is Cameron. By championing Turkey, and wearing his Turcophile tendencies on his sleeve, he can appeal to people's in-built Euroscepticism at home, temper the coaltion's Europhiliac tendencies and highlight Brussel's in-built Angloscepticism. All at a single stroke.

If this is true then it's a foreign policy stroke of genius. Or maybe it just seems that way after years of Labour verbal incontinence on just about any international relations topic you care to think of, and total incompetence in actually doing anything, or total dishonesty and betrayal in the case of the EU.

Maybe, for a change, this new Turcophilia is just the right policy. How refreshing.

I think I'll have a large donar for lunch.


  1. The Pope will be horrified.

    Despite the Vatican being outwith the EU, and thus this being none of his business, he has said that it is wrong to let a Muslim country into the union (showing that possibly he missed both the Good Samaritan story when he was doing his religious studies in the Hitler Youth and the fact that Turkey is not a Muslim country).

    Thank goodness Cameron has this one right. Certainly it will please the USA that he is pressing for Turkey's membership. And he likes to please the USA.

    I see that Mr Obama's impatience with Isreal is echoed too in Cameron's description of Gaza as a prison camp.

    I'm beginning to feel that despite our widely different backgrounds Cameron and I do have some things in common.

    If you have a large donar for lunch you will undoubtedly get fat!!

  2. But yes Denverthen.... joking aside, I see where Hannan is going with this. To the average Brit, at least the other members of the European Union are white and Christian (ish). The British dislike and mistrust of foreigners gets more and more intense the more and more foreign they become.

    Minarets and calls to prayer should just about stir them into active hatred. And maybe Turkey's membership (and the fact that the Daily mail and the Sun will stress that we can expect 20 million starving savages coming to take British jobs away from British people and enjoy British social security when there’s hardly any for decent hard working British Families and there will be nothing we can do to stop them. The Suin might add that they eat children!) could make Brits vote in favour of coming out of the union.... as long as they don’t have to give up an evening at the pub to do it.

    Hatred of the Turks in the UK might distract from the coming hatred of the coalition ...after all, life for all but the richest is going to be a bit on the tough side.....

    PS... I know some of the sentences were incredibly badly constructed there.... sorry!!! ;-)

  3. What to talk about shockingly bad treatement? Ask the Kurds about their experiences at the hands of Turkish troops.

  4. Do people like 'Matt' trawl around the internet for places to dump their single-issue slogans? How sad.

    For Matt's information, the Ottoman Turkey that committed those atrocities is not the modern Turkey that exists today. Besides, let he who is without historical sin...

    Tris: I agree with you about the pope. It would be nice if he would keep his council on matters geopolitical, especially in this case given his nationality. As for Cameron, I have a feeling he's not the one you should be talking about (or me for that matter), I think the one who is behind all this is William Hague. You know, the eminent historian, biographer and Foreign Secretary!

    'Fraid there are elements of your second post I just don't agree with, especially the characterisation of Brits as inherently xenophobic. I think that's just a myth, often given the lie by real interaction within real society between real people. However, you could be right about the motive - a foreign policy distraction. Nothing better than a row with Europe to get the anti-Brussels blood up (and send tax rises and gloomy growth figures to the financial pages).

    Personally, I think there's more to it than that. Not least of which is the oil pipeline to central Asia (it runs through Turkey).

  5. DT
    I have to admit to being rather stunned by your comment "the Ottoman Turkey that committed those atrocities is not the modern Turkey that exists today!

    I have to say that Turkey has an abominable Human Rights record and it is this which is a key factor in why the EU is refusing entry. AS much as I dislke the EU concept they are right in this particular instance.

    Having visited Turkey, I have seen first hand young children put to work in factories, and experienced the hostile reaction of the Factory Managers when challenged on this matter.

    You may recall a case where a 16 year old girl was buried alive in SE Turkey in a so called "honor killing" earlier this year.

    This is what Human Rights Watch has to say about Turkey.


    This submission highlights a number of key areas of concern regarding Turkey's compliance with its international human rights obligations. It focuses on restrictions on freedom of expression; minority rights; the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; police torture and ill-treatment; and upholding the rule of law and combating impunity.

    Of particular significance is the government's announcement in summer 2009 that it is committed to ensuring the human rights of Kurds in Turkey through what it termed a "democratic opening up" giving rise to hope that a long-stalled reform process might be restarted. The realization of a plan to uphold minority rights for Turkey's different ethnic and religious groups would represent a fundamental departure from the variously assimilationist or repressive policies of the past, and offers the possibility of advancing the fundamental rights and freedoms of all groups across ethnic and religious lines.

    Numerous provisions of the current constitution - drawn up in 1982 under a military regime - restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms. For this reason, Human Rights Watch considers revision of the constitution to ensure that it does not restrict human rights as a priority for the Turkish government.

    You may also want to read what Amnesty International has to say on Turkey's Human Rights reecord July to December 2009.

  6. DT

    I must admit to being rather stunned by your comment "....the Ottoman Turkey that committed those atrocities is not the modern Turkey that exists today....."

    I find little to agree with the EU on but on the particular point about the EUs opposition to Turkey, one has to agree. How on earth can you possibly support the union with a Country which has such an appalling human rights record and ha sconsistently refused to move forward on this.

    It is this fact which has generated such great opposition to Turkey being given membership.

    I suggest you, and most certainly Tris read what Human Rights Watch and Amensty International have to say (before in Tris's case heading off into a rant) Clearly a little investigation before passing comment would have saved some embarrassment....unless of course Human Rights matter not ?

  7. Old Timer: apologies for my alleged ignorance.

    I had no idea that "Human Rights Watch" had suddenly given up its unhelpful habit of exaggerating everything upon which it thinks its well-meaning, worthy and often almost correct activists, are qualified to remark, and that that august pressure group had also stopped conflating historical crimes against humanity with modern misdemeanours - like not saying sorry for them (Turks not wishing to own up to their great great grandfathers' appalling behaviour during the general bloodbath that was WWI being a case in point).

    I'm doubly sorry that my stunning comment moved you to post the first part of your response, bafflingly, twice.

    I'm actually rather surprised. I'd been given to believe, on the strength of your previous remarks, that a rather more measured, informed dollop of opinion was almost guaranteed from source-Old Timer.

    You live and learn.

  8. Oh dear, Old Timer just doesn't like anything I say does he? It's always a rant... whereas his comments are always so reasonable and measured..

    Ho hum....

    Let's try this then.

    I'm sorry OT. You're right, as usual. I'm just a silly kid who should shut up and know his place.

    Feel better?

  9. And honour killings haven't occurred in the UK have they?

    Cameron's playing a smart game, pulling back Turkey from the clutches of Eastern influence and giving them a big friend in the West...a friend they can trade with a bit more now that they're starting to achieve a bit of wealth. Plus of course, increasing security on Europe's eastern flank. You suggested that Cameron might be a lucky leader last week D, while I largely agree with you on that it turns out he might also be a clever one too.

  10. UB: Agreed - completely. Nice to know there are a few cool heads around, isn't it? Mind you, I wonder if the guiding hand of Hague is on Cameron's shoulder in all this.

  11. OLd Timer sounds like another one of those bleeding hearts, Of young children working in sweatshops as you said, At least their earning and helping the family,what would you do starve or I forgot you properly just draw benefits.

  12. DT

    Original post was reported as too long by the system, so I shortened it, hence second post. That was accepted and then when the page refreshed, it became obvious that both had been posted, Yiour system does not allow me to change anything. You can remove either both make the same point.

    You are the one making sily comments about the Daily Mail and the Sun (neither of which I read by the way - Dont need to as so many Daily Mail haters seem to be able to quite chapter and verse.)

    I am not aware of the UK being a hotbed of hatred of the Turks, certainly the various Turkish takeaways / restaurants and their staff seem to live quite happily and I cannot recall the last time I read of attacks on the Turks.

    I would also remind you of the fact that Turkey is a secular state, indeed one could almost forget it is a Muslim country.

    Turkey is also a very popular destination for many people from the UK.

    If you take those points into consideration they do rather place your post as being from a less well informed base. I wonder what value you feel it has added to the debate, it merely coming across to me as a rant against, well everybody really ?

  13. Apologies Old Timer for the Blogger comment issue.

    Just in passing and for what it's worth, you don't need to remind me that Turkey is a constitutionally secular state. But you do need to remind detractors who usually speak from a position of total historical ignorance when it comes to the modern history of Turkey of that important fact.

    It's the most forward looking Muslim nation in the world - and, even though the 'detractors' think that's not saying much, it should nevertheless become a beacon to all Muslim states from now on.

    Turkey doesn't need to prove itself to anybody, but it does need to be accepted by the snobs of Europe, especially after its massive contribution to world peace (the 'bigger picture') over the past 60+ years.

    Anyone who disagrees with that wider view has just got their wires horribly crossed and their priorities badly wrong, genuinely good works of worthy human rights pressure groups notwithstanding.

  14. OT... you really seem to be devoid of any sense of humour or any irony or...well anything that buzzes me anyway.

    I know you don't like me. My posts seem to give you indigestion, and for that I apologise.

    You just see the world from a different perspective, probably a different country and maybe 50 years difference in age...

    C'est la vie. Il faudra accepter la difference!!


Any thoughts?