Wednesday, 26 May 2010

‘European’ Turkey and the global clash of civilizations

The best thing Europe could do now would be to bring in Turkey. When they recently took 10 new countries, they brought in 10 new problems as those countries have little to contribute.
Turkey has about the same population as those 10 countries, one language a much more productive labour force, and so on. They could solve many problems by bringing in Turkey. So if I were the European Union, I would bring in Turkey this afternoon. It would be the best thing for the European Union and its survival.
Of course, they are not going to do it because of the dirty little secret they don't like to talk about: The Turks are "not like us" Europeans. "They" got that funny language and that funny religion and that funny skin.
Acclaimed investor Jim Rogers as quoted by Steven Drobny in "Inside the House of Money," 2005.
Singaporeans may know Jim Rogers as a wealthy investor who chose to relocate to Singapore citing tax and quality of life reasons. And, for practical purposes, Rogers insists that his children be schooled in Mandarin. Within the professional investment world, Jim Rogers is better known for co-founding the Quantum Fund with George Soros, 'the man who broke the Bank of England' back in 1969.
Rogers holds strong views on most things – and he translates these views into investment theses. One may disagree with much of what he says, but it is difficult to argue with success.
And Rogers' investment career continues to be exceptionally successful.
Savvy investors look at the world with a different vision than ordinary persons. While some may see a tragic oil spill in the US Gulf, an investor sees BP as a stock shorting candidate. It's not that investors have no emotions; they just process information differently.

In 2005, the survival of the Eurozone was not on anyone's mind. Some bandied about the idea of the Euro as an alternate reserve currency to the US Dollar. Europe, like the rest of the world, was on a high. New members were queuing up outside the EU's doors. The global economy was chugging along nicely.
Things are slightly different in 2010.
Today, Turks must be quietly sniggering to themselves at the fate of the Eurozone, especially given the starring role played by their nemesis Greece. Many in Turkey's political elite might be watching the Greek tragedy and wondering whether Ataturk's European dream is still worth pursuing.
Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II entering Constantinopole in 1453

Despite the economic logic, the European Union (EU) will never admit Turkey. Everyone understands that, except Turkey itself. (Just like the parent that refuses to admit her child is a smoker, in this case Turkey prefers not to acknowledge the existence of uncomfortable realities.)
The EU's attitude towards Turkey is unfortunate. Turkey has a central role to play in bridging the gap between the Islam and the rest of the world. Turkey's conciliatory function stems naturally in part due to Turkey's geographic contiguity with Western Europe.
Turkey's policy shift towards the Islamic world at the cost of diluting its partnership with NATO and the US is partly due to Turkey's treatment by the EU. After all, how many times can a proud nation be shown the door before deciding its fate lays elsewhere?  
Turkey's special relationship with Israel has been severely weakened during the last few years. Additionally, despite US protests, Turkey has forged strong pragmatic relationships with two of its most contentious neighbours, Iran and Syria.
Turkey's historical anchoring as a geopolitical player within Europe is fast disappearing. Turkey's new moorings are forming around the Islamic world. Securing Turkey's fate exclusively to the Islamic world will be disadvantageous to both the Islamic world and Europe.

Unfortunately, continental Europeans may have forgotten World War Two but the Ottoman Wars are seared in their collective consciousness. Surely, Romanians express sentiments common among many Europeans when they insult someone by suggesting 'you are barbaric like a Turk.'
NB – Readers may be interested to note that Rogers has an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest continuous car journey – a follow up to an earlier motorcycle trip around the world. He has authored two best sellers recounting both journeys.

No comments:

Post a Comment