Sunday

14th Apr 2024

EU opposition to Turkish accession is 'racist,' Chomsky says

The real reason for the EU rejecting Turkey's membership is "racism," US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has told a Turkish newspaper. Meanwhile, Germany's anti-immigration debate escalated over the weekend with one of Angela Merkel's key allies saying the country should ban more incoming Turkish and Arab workers.

"Europe can claim with some justification that Turkey has not satisfied all of the human rights conditions. On the other hand, I don't really think this is the reason. ... I think it is plain racism," Mr Chomsky told Zaman, a right-leaning Turkish newspaper on Sunday (10 October).

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The US philosopher and long-time critic of Western foreign policy singled out a recent statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Muslims in the country must accept that Germany's culture is based on Christian and Jewish values and said it was "a pretty extreme and racist statement from a major political figure in Europe."

Germany is only one of the European countries that is seeing a "right-wing backlash against Muslim immigrants," he said, arguing this is the "background reason" why Turkey is unlikely to join the EU anytime soon, even if it were to meet all human rights standards.

Ankara opened EU membership talks in 2005, some 18 years after its first request to join the club, and the process is advancing slowly, with some negotiating chapters on hold due to a stand-off with Greece over the island of Cyprus. French and German reluctance to have Turkey as the biggest member of the union are adding to the mix as is a resurgence of anti-immigration politics across western Europe – in the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy and France.

On Saturday, Horst Seehofer, one of Angela Merkel's key allies and the premier of the conservative southern state of Bavaria, said the time has come to halt Muslim immigration.

"It is clear that immigrants from other cultural circles like Turkey, and Arab countries have more difficulties. From that I draw the conclusion that we don't need any additional foreign workers from other cultures," he told Focus magazine.

He added that Germany should first "deal with the people who already live here" and "get tougher on those who refuse to integrate" before accepting more migrant workers.

Mr Seehofer was accused of deliberately timing his remarks to coincide with a visit to Germany of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

During the visit Mr Erdogan and Chancellor Merkel jointly attended a football match between the German and Turkish national teams at which Mr Erdogan wore a scarf combining both nations' flags.

His EU affairs minister, Egemen Bagis, called on the Turkish people living in Germany to integrate and to send their children to school, reminding them that they are the "ambassadors" of Turkey.

Germany's media attention has in recent months been caught up in a heated debate over the integration of its 4 million Muslims. Thilo Sarrazin, a former central bank official and center-left politician, had to resign after publishing a controversial book about the allegedly integration-resistant Muslim community, which he says will lead to the future collapse of German society.

Mr Sarrazin's ideas, which have been compared to the thinking of Dutch anti-immigrant politician Geert Wilders, have met with wide support from the German public.

A recent survey by the criminal studies institute of Lower Saxony shows that Turkish youngsters are growing increasingly unpopular with their German peers. Only 9.2 percent of German youngsters find Turkish neighbours pleasant, whereas 40.9 percent of Turks like the idea of German neighbours.

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