Erdogan is in Europe trying to get the folks there to accept Turkey in the EU. But he’s not going hat in hand. On the contrary, he clearly thinks he’s in the strong position (or he doesn’t care). Apparently, Germany’s idea that Turkish immigrants should become part of German culture is deeply offensive. (HT: David Steinman)
Row over treatment of immigrants reopens Turkey’s rift with Europe
Prime Minister blasts German policy on trip to promote EU bid
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Monday, 28 February 2011
The Turkish Prime Minister yesterday issued a stinging rebuke to Germany over its treatment of Turkish immigrants.
In remarks that highlight the resentment that has built up over the European Union ‘s continued refusal to allow Turkey to join the club, Recep Tayyip Erdogan lambasted the Berlin government’s attempts to integrate its 3.5 million Turkish immigrants, and said policies that encouraged them to renounce their culture and speak German were a “violation of international law”.
This is, of course, a spill-over of the nonsense that Europe has accepted from the Palestinians about anything Israel does being violations of international law, as if either the Palestinians or the Turks had any notion of what international law was about. Too bad the Europeans were so eager to sell out the Israelis. Now it’s blowback time.
Mr Erdogan – in Berlin on the first stop of a visit designed to strengthen his country’s bid to join the EU – delivered his surprisingly outspoken verdict on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s integration drive hours before he was due to address a large gathering of Turkish immigrants in the western city of Düsseldorf last night.
His comments came after a senior member of Ms Merkel’s government sparked an acrimonious row by demanding the negotiations over EU membership be halted because of Ankara’s failure to permit religious freedom.
Of course for Erodgan, lack of religious freedom is not a violation of international law, especially when it’s a Muslim state that denies others that freedom. This German move is exactly what I (and others) have been advocating for a while now – some reciprocity. Erdogan seems to find the very notion that Turks should show reciprocity deeply offensive.
Mr Erdogan told the Rheinische Post newspaper that Germany’s integration policies failed to consider the needs and expectations of its Turkish communities. Addressing the government’s campaign to encourage more Turks to speak German, he added: “Any policy which seeks to revoke the language and culture of migrants violates international law.”
One has to admire his confidence. Note the language of “needs and expectations.” For those who have not read Bat Ye’or’s (allegedly) conspiratorial book Eurabia, the right to refuse assimilation was one part of the “deal” that Arab diplomats made with the Europeans. That’s why European Muslim immigrants of the last thirty years have reversed a near-universal trend of immigration in the modern world – the second generation is less integrated than their elders.
The Turkish Prime Minister’s comments seemed destined to stir up an already heated integration debate in Germany, which culminated last month with a declaration by Ms Merkel that attempts to build a multicultural society had “utterly failed”. David Cameron came to almost the same conclusion in speech delivered in Germany in early February.
Only a decade or so late. Just hopefully not too late.
Fears that Germany has allowed its Muslim communities to develop “parallel societies” have been stoked by a controversial book entitled Germany is Doing Away with Itself by a former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin. The book claims that laissez-faire policies have produced an underclass of Muslim underachievers. The book has been widely dismissed as racist, but it has sold more than a million copies since last October.
The dismissal as racist is the standard ploy of the useful infidels on the “left.” For a recent example in the USA, compare the NYT’s treatment of problems with immigrants in Sweden with that of Barry Rubin. For the Grey Lady’s reporter, it’s all about cheap, xenophobic, Islamophobic Swedes who don’t want to share their bounty with their Muslim immigrants. No mention of gang rapes, assaults on Jews and other targeted communities, no-go zones where the cops dare not enter.
Ms Merkel’s coalition of conservative Christian Democrats and liberals has publicly advocated policies encouraging Turkish immigrants to speak German ever since. There have also been widespread calls for a tightening of legislation governing the entry of Turkish immigrants who make up the majority of Muslims in Germany.
In an initial response to the Turkish Prime Minister’s comments, the government’s conservative integration commissioner, Maria Böhmer, said that Mr Erdogan should promote integration rather than criticise it. “It would send a strong signal to our migrants of Turkish origin to tell them to learn German and take advantage of the opportunity to send their children to kindergarten,” she insisted.
Let’s hope this was said ironically (something, I am learning, Germans are not noted for). I hope she doesn’t think this is a persuasive argument.
Mr Erdogan was also unsparing in his criticism of Ms Merkel, who together with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has strongly opposed Turkey’s attempts to gain full EU membership. Both advocate that Ankara should be given “privileged partnership” status instead.
The Turkish Prime Minister accused Ms Merkel of using “stalling tactics” in order to placate German voters who are opposed to Turkey’s membership. “Never before have such hurdles been put before an EU accession country,” he insisted. “The Turkish people expect Germany to take the lead role in the EU’s membership negotiations with Turkey.”
This man clearly thinks he is in the driver’s seat. Hopefully he’s wrong.
Ms Merkel is expected to reiterate the position held by President Sarkozy when she meets Mr Erdogan today. During a visit to Ankara last week, Mr Sarkozy said that he believed Turkey did not belong in Europe and that another form of partnership had to be considered.
Mr Erdogan will tomorrow make his first visit to Brussels since 2009 and is expected to reiterate his calls for full membership. However, the stalemate over Cyprus and scepticism about Turkey’s ability to push through key reforms before key June parliamentary election are likely to mean that they will fall on deaf ears.
An insult to chew over
President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent visit to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was supposed to be an opportunity to promote better relations between Ankara and Europe – but instead it has been overshadowed by an escalating political spat over the etiquette of chewing gum.
After Mr Sarkozy was seen chewing gum as he got off his plane in Ankara on Friday, the mayor of the city has revealed that he deliberately decided to chew gum himself when seeing the French president off yesterday, as part of a calculated retaliatory snub.
“He stopped for a moment, looked around and continued to chew. I personally was offended,” Melih Gokcek said. He did not specify whether either politician chewed with his mouth open.
This is a perfect example of the kind of infantile behavior that honor-shame cultures engage in all the time. Again, the aggressive response indicates that the Turks feel they are in the strong position and can finally give the West a piece of their mind.
As part of this aggressive new form of petition to enter the EU, Erdogan openly urged Turks in Germany not to assimilate:
Erdogan Urges Turks Not to Assimilate
‘You Are Part of Germany, But Also Part of Our Great Turkey’
By Özlem Gezer and Anna Reimann in Düsseldorf
Thousands of Turkish immigrants gave Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a rock star welcome in Germany on Sunday in a show of national pride that remains fervent, even after decades spent in Germany. He told them they remain part of Turkey, and urged them to integrate into German society — but not to assimilate.
The lyric keeps echoing around the hall in Düsseldorf. “The land belongs to us all.” The sentence isn’t referring to Germany, but to Turkey.
Immigrants are waving hundreds of Turkish flags and the chanting and the music are deafening. One woman shouts “Turkey is great!” into a microphone to cheers from the crowd. Everyone in the ISS Dome, a huge sports and concert venue, is fired up, as if they’re waiting for a rock star. There’s only one show in town this Sunday, and his name is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish prime minister has come to Germany. He wants to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel but first he wants to speak to his “compatriots.” To people who have been living in Germany for decades, who were born here, and of whom many have German passports.
They have come from all over Germany to see him live, some 10,000 people. They say things like: “The Germans will never accept us, but we have Erdogan.” Or: “At last someone feels responsible for us, for the first time a Turkish prime minister isn’t forgetting his compatriots abroad.” One woman says: “Erdogan may get Merkel to see us as part of this society. He is our savior.”
You really have to admire the logic here. It has nothing to do with reality; indeed, Erdogan’s behavior will have the exact opposite effect. Is this woman sincere? Or is she sticking it to the Germans? Given how stupidly the Europeans have been behaving for well over a decade, Muslims have every reason to expect them to continue to so behave.
Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, most of them descendants of Turks invited by the government in the 1950s and 1960s as ” guest workers” to make up for a shortage of manpower after World War II.
Muslim immigrants have been the focus of a heated public debate in Germany over the last year, with conservative commentators and politicians accusing them of failing to integrate into German society. Many immigrants in turn complain that they are still being called “foreigners” even if they were born in Germany, have German citizenship and speak the language perfectly.
‘I Am Here to Show That You’re Not Alone!’
The savior arrives almost an hour and a half late. “Turkey is proud of you,” the crowd chants in this city in the heart of the Rhineland. “We are proud of you,” Erdogan replies.
He starts out by appealing straight to people’s hearts: “I am here to feel your yearning with you, I am here to enquire about your welfare. I am here to show that you’re not alone!”
Erdogan wants to give his audience a clear identity. “They call you guest workers, foreigners, or German Turks. It doesn’t matter what they all call you: You are my fellow citizens, you are my people, you are my friends, you are my brothers and sisters!”
“You are part of Germany, but you are also part our great Turkey,” says Erdogan.
It sounds like a domestic campaign speech ahead of elections in Turkey this summer. Erdogan is wooing for votes among Germany’s Turkish population. In previous elections, immigrants with Turkish passports flew to Ankara, Istanbul or Antalya just to cast their ballots at the airport.
That is why Erdogan keeps highlighting the successes of his government in his speech, and paints a picture of Turkey as a modern, major power. “We’re not a country that draws on help, we provide help too,” he says. And: “Now my compatriots are no longer traveling in buses, they go by plane.” There are martial-sounding tones too: “Now Turkey will at last start building its own war planes.”
‘No One Has the Right to Deprive us of Our Culture’
Erdogan portrays himself as a supporter of democracy and freedom of opinion. Turkey is changing, he says, adding that all artists and writers who left Turkey and went into exile should return. The message is that the European Union should let Turkey join.
In his (much maligned) book on the Arab Mind, Patai talks about the tendency of Arabs to so love their language that they believe they can create reality just by articulating wishes. Apparently it’s not restricted to Arabs.
In a newspaper interview published ahead of his speech, Erdogan urged Merkel to drop her opposition to Turkey’s accession to the EU. “Never have such political obstacles been put in the path of an accession country,” he said.
Of course, never has a country been less suited, more unlike, the other countries in the EU. If Europe were smart about their future and clear on the threat that Islam constitutes, they’d take Israel into the EU as this radical Italian political party suggests. It would allow them to set the standard for democratic values very high.
Human rights, innovation, progress — the rural way of life that many Turks now living in Germany left behind them in the 1960s, no longer exists, Erdogan told the crowd. “We mustn’t cling to it anymore. I want you to learn German, that your children learn German, they must study, do their masters degrees. I want you to become doctors, professors and politicians in Germany,” says Erdogan.
And then he repeats the sentence that caused such a stir at a speech he held in Cologne three years ago. He warns Turks against assimilating themselves. “Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don’t assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture and our identity.”
In other words, infiltrate.
Erdogan knows that this statement amounts to a provocation in Germany — no politician here is demanding that Turkish immigrants should deny their roots or give up their culture. Erdogan adds: “German newspapers will pick up on this tomorrow, but that’s a mistake.”
His message to devout Muslims is similar. “Islamophobia should be seen in the same way as anti-Semitism,” he says.
And he has brought along a gift for his compatriots — a kind of light-weight dual citizenship. The so-called “Blue Card,” which gives Turks with German citizenship certain rights in Turkey, is to be upgraded. Holders of the card will, in the future, have the same rights as Turkish citizens in dealings with authorities and banks.
For minutes, confetti in the red and white Turkish national colors rains onto the stage. Erdogan’s speech is over.
It was a call for more integration but with strict conditions attached. Adapt yourselves a bit, don’t allow yourselves to be treated badly and if there’s a problem, I’ll come and help! It was a speech that did nothing to reinforce any feeling of belonging to Germany — Erdogan steadfastly appealed to the Turkish national pride of people who have been at home in Germany for four generations.
One woman stood outside the hall with tears streaming down her face. “I don’t need to go on a summer vacation this year. In my heart, I’ve just spent hours in Anatolia.”
The question is, will such behavior at last awaken in the Germans and other Europeans a clear sense of the threat, and a sense of sufficient self-respect that they can say clearly, “no thanks” to the Turkish request for membership (which would, among other things, throw open the gates of immigration to over 75 million Muslims)?