Cohn-Bendit on Turkey

I can’t resist showing this video from Euronews (therefore available in 8 languages) opening with the European Parliament’s Green leader Daniel-Cohn Bendit attempting to engage Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. The one eager and seemingly trying to impress, the other, massive and unfazed. Most of the video is an interview of Cohn-Bendit defending Turkish accession to the European Union.

It isn’t common to hear people defend Turkish entry with much enthusiasm, so it’s quite refreshing to see the gregarious Cohn-Bendit do so in French. France is one of the most hostile countries to Turkey, partly linked to the ambient Islamophobia. Stanford University just published a study that found that otherwise identical CVs with Muslim names were 2.5 less likely to get a positive response than Christian names – in this case “Khadija Diouf” vs. “Marie Diouf,” both obvious Senegalese names. It’s worth pointing out that the Greens are probably the most progressive on minority rights (“multicultural”) of the Parliament’s groups and Cohn-Bendit himself is a cultural mongrel: though German-Jewish, he was raised in France and currently represents Île-de-France, but only holds German citizenship.

I have myself grown a great deal more skeptical of Turkish membership lately. This has mainly been due reading the chapter on Turkey in Perry Anderson’s massive and excellent The New Old World. The country does not come out of it looking anything like an appropriate member, essentially due to an uncompromising nationalism that leads to a denial of the Armenian genocide, the criminalization of journalists for “insulting Turkey” (Reporters Without Borders ranks Turkey about the same as Russia in terms of press freedom), and an absolutely brutal, militarized anti-terror policy against the Kurds in their own country. If we add things like Turkey’s size and poverty, it becomes apparent that membership would be a revolution in European affairs as big as the 2004 enlargement of 10 new countries (richer, with about the same total population). The changes would not necessarily be a bad thing, but it isn’t something that should be thoughtlessly undertaken…

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