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Lord Ahmed: Turkey doesn’t need to be in European Union July 21, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Lord Nazir Ahmed

Is Turkey drifting away from Europe, or becoming more independent? How does Europe view Turkey’s membership? To what extent can Muslim countries be influential in world politics? Despite their seeming irrelevance, these questions are part of a long chain that conveys a series of reasons for and consequences of many developments occurring today.

Lord Nazir Ahmed, member of the House of Lords, the first Muslim life peer of the United Kingdom and known for his political activities related to the Islamic community both in the UK and abroad, spoke recently about the future of relations between Turkey and the European Union as well as the place of the Muslims in Europe. For Lord Ahmed, Turkey has acquired an independent place in world politics and can manage its own development without the European Union, which he thinks is delaying Turkey for several reasons.

With Europe, without the EU

“There is already an embedded racism against Turkey,” Lord Ahmed observes of the racist trends towards Turkey in an interview with Today’s Zaman. “For instance in France, in Germany and in Austria because of World War I and before. There is already racism, anti-Turkish, anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim, whatever you want to say, or an anti-Ottoman feeling that exists within these societies. And whilst Britain supports Turkey’s membership in the European Union for many reasons, the Europeans have this fear, hate, a kind of concern, one, because of history and second, because you have 90 million people who would probably want to move to Western Europe, in their perception.”

As for the new government in Britain, Lord Ahmed indicates that the approach to Turkey will remain the same. “I think the new government will remain very supportive of the old policy,” says Lord Ahmed. “Britain actually looks upon Turkey as a friendly country, a partner in NATO and a partner in many European activities. Britain will support Turkey in its membership in the EU, although there are many stumbling blocks. I see Turkey becoming a hub and a center. You have a great future economically; you don’t need to be in Europe because the euro is already in trouble. And some people are arguing that the euro will probably disintegrate.”

“Turkey is doing really well around the world,” adds Lord Ahmed. “Norway exists without the European Union, and Switzerland does, too. And there are even some who are thinking of leaving the European Union because of their own interests.” Lord Ahmed praises the role of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in this respect. “I am a staunch supporter of Erdoğan,” says Lord Ahmed. “I think he is one of the finest leaders in the Muslim world. He has taken the economy in this country from a very fragile and a very weak currency and economy into a fairly strong economy.” Lord Ahmed went on to say that he believes Turkey is the second-fastest growing economy in Europe.

Fear is weakness

Lord Ahmed is critical of the Arab world’s contributions to world politics and influence at the international scale, saying they are substandard when compared to Turkey. “They fear losing power, they are weak, don’t look at their sheikdoms and kingdoms, don’t look at their glorious gowns,” Lord Ahmed says, criticizing the governments of Muslim countries that have largely been quiet about the occupation in Gaza. “I can criticize the American policies, but they would never dare do that. Most of their rulers will not allow this, because they cannot afford to upset the West. I go to the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] countries, and once when I was talking about Gaza, a woman of the ruling classes said, ‘I worry so much about the Israelis, they are under fear all the time from the Gazans.’ What!” exclaims Lord Ahmed.

“In Cairo, when I asked why he was building a 35-foot [barrier] underground, the speaker of the Egyptian parliament said to me that there were drugs and arms coming into Egypt from Gaza,” explains Lord Ahmed. “I said they cannot even buy dried milk for their children, they cannot feed themselves, how can they grow drugs? I have been to Gaza and I didn’t see any drugs. If they had guns they would fire them at the Israelis.”

In this respect, Lord Ahmed praises Erdoğan’s stance, especially pointing to his reaction at Davos. “Erdoğan is a great leader, and what he did was a natural move by any Muslim leader, or any Muslim person or any just person, don’t even say Muslim, just any human being who knows the suffering of the Palestinians,” says Lord Ahmed. “When Erdoğan walked out, you will get the right-wing lobby in Turkey who will criticize him for what he did, but I think overall in the world, great masses of European people admired what he did, not the Muslims, and not the Christians [but] the Europeans, whoever they are. They admired what he did because he stood for justice. What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is what the whites did in South Africa, and if people in the world were disgusted with what was going on in South Africa, then they should be disgusted with Israel and with what is going on with the Palestinian people today.”

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