European Union

Should Christians vote for Turkey?


The most important ‘deal’ recently agreed by the EU is not the one negotiated by the UK for a bit of welfare tinkering, but the €6bn settlement with Turkey for stemming the flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, for which the EU has not only agreed to hasten Turkey’s admission to the European club, but also conceded visa-free travel for 77 million Turks under the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. The issue is profoundly humanitarian as well as financial, and it would be unwise not to attempt to address the appalling migration problem as near as possible to the source of suffering. And Turkey appears to be as near as we can get to Syria and Iraq, so it is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with whom we must negotiate.

But the potential exodus of ‘Green Card’ Turks into Europe will make all those concerns about 30 million Romanians and Bulgarians pale into triviality. At the risk of being accused of ‘racism’, is it not a fact of history, religion and political culture that Turkey’s values are somewhat at variance with – if not alien to – those of Europe and the EU? One only has to consider Erdoğan’s penchant for harassing and incarcerating his political opponents, not to mention clamping down on ‘unfavourable’ media outlets, to incline toward the view that Turkey doesn’t really ‘belong’ in Europe – at least not the Europe of Christendom which stretches from the Atlantic to the Urals. And yet Turkey’s accession is supported by all mainstream political leaders in the UK and US, along with much of the mainstream media.

Some Eurosceptics support Turkey joining the EU in the belief simply that wider the Union becomes, the less deep it can be. Ergo, by bridging Christendom to the ‘Muslim world’, Turkish accession would fundamentally challenge Eurocentricism and bring a permanent end to “ever closer union”. But at what cost to European identity, not to mention European civilisation itself?

European countries share many common origins – Graeco-Roman classical paganism, Celtic culture, Christianity, Reformation, Renaissance, Romanticism, Enlightenment – which have influenced the various tribal groups throughout the continent and produced similarities in language, customs, architecture, literature, music, fine arts, and so on. This has bequeathed to us a common heritage, often broadly termed ‘Western’ . Countries which have not been subjected to these same complex social-historical forces are quite simply neither European nor Western.

It may be un-PC to state (as Pope Benedict XVI discovered in Regensburg), but it is a matter of historical record that Islam is a militant and aggrandising ideology constrained by 7th-century attitudes and values. As recently as 1683 it was kicking at the gates of Vienna, and has been consistently antagonistic toward the Christian world, whose lands it regards as the Dar al-Harb (‘house of war’) – populated by infidels who must be compelled by all means to submit to Allah. Followers of Mohammed who subscribe to this ‘robust’ expression of militant Islam cling to the letter of the Qur’an: ‘Those who fight Islam should be murdered or crucified or their hands and feet should be cut off on opposite sides’ (Surah 5:33). Muslims who take such words literally may be a small minority in Europe at the moment, but the granting of 77 million Turks visa-free admission could increase the EU’s Muslim population from 5% to 15% (and let’s not talk of the equally un-PC matter of the differential between the birthrates of Muslims and non-Muslims, which would hasten the looming cultural implosion, for the child born in the EU to the visa-free Turk is automatically a European citizen).

The Bosphorus is a psychological frontier. Rather like the English Channel, it sets apart the ‘other’, and guards against uncontrolled immigration, negative assimilation, over-population and environmental degradation. A nation which is moving from secular Kemalism to Islamism has no respect for European notions of Human Rights.  For Ankara to sup and fellowship equally with the capital cities of the European Union would be to dilute Europe and undermine the essentially Christian character of its identity. At least Pope Benedict XVI was aware of the grave danger Europeans would face if Turkey were to be admitted (or 77 million Turks granted visa-free movement), warning that Turkey could “try to set up a cultural continent with neighbouring Arab countries and become the protagonist of a culture with its own identity”.

Turkey in the EU would destabilise our political culture, giving the country as many votes as Germany in the EU’s decision-making machinery. In fact, on current demographic trends, Turkey’s population will soon surpass that of Germany: by 2050, they may number as many 100 million – all with visa-free travel along the highways and byways of the European Union. They no longer need full EU membership. The French no longer need to assert their constitutional referendum prerogative on Turkish accession. If 1-1.5 million Turkish citizens were to make the journey across the Bosphorus each year, it doesn’t need much political insight or spiritual discernment to appreciate how that level of migration might impact on mobilising the far right in just about every European country, with God knows what implications for civil peace, national security and social stability.