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RUSSIA: Turkey and the EU



Cameron Sawyer asks: "What is Europeanism? And a different and no less important question: what should it be ? Russia is surely as European as it can be. In what ways is Russia not European ? It is predominantly Christian (with large Muslim and Jewish minorities), democratic, ultra-capitalist. It has separation of church and state and Jews and Muslims (if not evangelical Christian sects) have well-protected freedom of religion. Russia is out of step with Europe perhaps in two ways: (1) it is not quite aligned with Europe militarily and geopolitically, but probably could be; (2) ironically, Russia is TOO capitalistic by European standards; or, to say it another way, Europe may be too socialistic for modern Russian taste. Perhaps Russia should be brought instead into NAFTA? Together with the UK?

Turkey is also democratic, and no more inclined to banana-republicanism (military coups, etc.) than Greece. Turkey s economy has certain banana-republic aspects (oligarchy and high inflation, to name two) but is probably more open and transparent and more market-oriented than Greece s. Turkey s is also a large economy. Turkey has a legal separation of church (mosque?) and state which is quite strict, as laid down by Attaturk (in contrast to Germany and the UK, as Ronald points out). Turkey has long been aligned with Europe militarily and geopolitically and has been a faithful ally of the West. Turkey even uses the Latin alphabet, unlike Russia or Greece. In what way is Turkey not suitable? Is it racial or religious prejudice, perhaps?

RH: Russia claims rightly that it is both European and Asian and German. Russophobes have dismissed it as Asian in conversations with me. This was the eastern equivalent to "Africa begins in the Pyrenees". We now have suggestions that Turkey, Russia and the UK join NAFTA. Would Germany and France enjoy being caught in this embrace?

Ronald Hilton - 1/2/03


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