Turkey's journey to Europe

Why an Islamic country aspires to modernise

If a Muslim state that once upon a time held some 26 countries that presently have seats at the United Nations under its sway is willing to change its former ways and join a political club with an altogether different outlook - there must be some reasons for it and it is worth taking a closer look.

Turkey has plenty of artistic works from the glories of its Ottoman past to show to its approximately 13 million tourists a year. The empire once stretched from Morocco to Iran, from Hungary to Yemen, and lasted for over six centuries (1299 – 1923). The arts in Turkey today are once again thriving. Artists and writers from the Muslim world, frequently inhibited by political censorship or social conservatism, feel free to voice their opinions in Istanbul or Ankara. The government is relaxing restrictions on free expression and underpinning human rights legislation in line with the coming negotiations on European Union membership. The economy is growing at around 10 per cent and exports are bounding up at 15 per cent - a very large part of the country looks to Europe as the way forward.

Already in the Ottoman Empire days, Turkey reached out towards the European countries Hungary and Austria. Holy wars against unbelievers, especially when combined with plunder, appealed strongly to Turkish warriors of the time. Volunteers were recruited from all over the Turkish world to serve the house of Osman in their wars against the Byzantines. Crushing victories over the Serbs at Kosovo in 1389, and over the Hungarians at Nicopolis in present-day Bulgaria in 1396, spread Turkish power deep into the Balkans. Yet prolonged success helped to nourish a smug conservatism within Ottoman society, largely closing the minds of its leaders against a new scientific knowledge, which, by the 17th century, had begun to modernize Western Europe. Turkey, once a leader in military technology, therefore gradually fell into relative backwardness.

In 1908 a movement of young army officers - the young Turks - formed a secret society and carried through a coup d'état in 1908, in reaction to Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Bulgaria's proclamation of independence. They introduced a new era of westernization. However, the loss of Tripoli to Italy in 1911, and of almost all the European parts of the empire to Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia, led the Young Turks to turn towards pan-Turkism for ideological inspiration. Since most Turks beyond Ottoman borders were Russian subjects in central Asia, pan-Turkism emphasized hostility towards the Russians, and in World War I they sided with Germany and Austria-Hungary. At first they repulsed the British at the Dardanelles in 1915 and in 1916, but later revolts, which were also supported by enemy forces, led to Turkey's further break-up of the empire and the loss of its Arab provinces.

The treaty of Sevres in 1920 assured Greece, France and Italy protectorates and spheres of influence in the Turkish heartland of Anatolia. The Turks, however, refused to submit to a fate of complete disintegration of their country. General Mustafa Kemal Pasha, later called Atatürk, or “Father of all Turks”, raised a standard revolt in Anatolia. Eventually he was able to organize a government, a political party as well as an army around himself, and became the founder of a new republic. By 1922 the Turks had driven the Greek army from Anatolia and the sultanate was abolished. The victorious Turkish nationalists threatened the British and other Allied forces still occupying Constantinople. The treaty of Lausanne in 1923 recognized the new Turkish government and established Turkey's modern boundaries.
Until 1938, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died, the new government of Turkey was in fact a personal dictatorship, although clothed in constitutional and republican forms. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's policy was to catch up with the west by radical and thoroughgoing reforms: disestablish Islam as a state religion and replace the Arabic with the Latin script, adapt the western calendar and introduce secular codes. Atatürk adopted the Swiss civil code in 1926 almost without any amendments. He thereby abolished polygamy allowed by the Koran, and gave women the right to demand divorce. Civil marriage was prescribed by law, and going to school was made compulsory for boys and girls alike. The inferiority of the testimony of women before court was abolished and women were not allowed to hide their face behind a veil.

Yet in 1980 Turkey was in chaos. Murder was commonplace, electricity failures were frequent and heavy smog hung over Ankara from the cheap coal being used. The army took over, an event much criticised by Western Europeans but welcomed by almost all Turks, and, as even the army's critics recognise, crowned in the end with considerable success. The greatest changes since have occurred through foreign trade and dealings with Western Europe.

More than three million Turks live in Europe today, around 1.9 million in Germany alone. They make up the largest group of foreign residents. In 1949 Turkey had been a founder member of the European Council, as well as a founder member of the Organization for Economic Development (OECD). It became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, and in 1963 Turkey signed an association accord with the European Community, with the perspective of joining the European Community (EC) one day, as it was then still called. In 1995 a customs union was agreed upon, and in December 1999 the European Council took the decision in Helsinki to admit Turkey into the circle of membership applicant countries for the European Union, if it could meet the Copenhagen criteria.

The first Turkish immigrants came into Germany as 'guest workers' as they were called, who were brought in to take the place of workers who had formerly come from East Germany but were then prevented from doing so because of the newly erected wall between East and West Germany in 1961. They came from Eastern Turkish provinces and were very religious. At the time, many Moslems disagreed with Turkey's secularism and aimed at transforming Turkey into a Muslim state. They hoped that a return to Turkish roots would lead to its very own and individual development of Turkey. A modernisation of their home country along Islamic lines would allow those expatriates who were stranded in Germany to return to Turkey. This was the time of the legendary Metin Kaplan who tried to establish a caliphate state. The Western life style was considered as corrupt and decadent. Without religion playing a part in everyday life, it seemed to lack heart and soul. The Turkish Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion, DITIB, was the only Islamic organization which wished to maintain secularism, the separation of religion and politics, and countered movements which aimed for an Islamization of Turkey. DITIB is the largest of the many Muslim organizations in Germany, but is viewed with scepticism by many Moslems, as its headquarters are in Ankara. German authorities, too, are a little sceptic and now aim to teach Imams at their own universities. Recently one such university chair of Islam was established at Münster in Germany’s most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia.

With time, in the 60s and 70s, the Turkish immigrants in Germany learned to live in a different style. With prosperity came security, came a life style that was similar to that of Germans and other Europeans. Turkish couples had fewer children. The majority said goodbye to their original dream of returning and decided instead to stay. In old age they would receive their pensions, in case of sickness or unemployment they would receive social benefits. A unique reliance on the family for survival was no longer a necessity. The Moslems that were less successful in being integrated into German society or adapting to the new life style - basically because of difficulties in finding work - felt comfortable in the Milli Görüs organization that now worked towards establishing a traditional and conservative Islam within the framework of European societies.

But then how do you feel happy in a country far away from home, when you're not in the first row of being asked to work for a good wage? The unemployment rate among immigrants in Berlin is 50 per cent. If German employers prefer Germans among job applicants, Turks will move closer together and prefer Turks in their neighbourhoods. In some districts Turkish only is spoken and the knowledge of German will decline even further. In part Germany has just shown passive tolerance and has looked away. Its past dictates the country not to interfere and to avoid racism at all costs. Yet globalisation and the new international division of labour are factors beyond the control of the German government. Those sectors of heavy and light industry which traditionally offered migrants plenty of work have experienced massive breakdowns. Germany's unemployment rate is at its highest since the Second World War.

Not being able to take part in the society of consumers, the roughly 2200 mosques that now exist in Germany become islands in a sea of unbelievers. They also became self-help organizations. It was an answer to drug problems, delinquency, prostitution and disintegrating families. In spite of a patriarchal approach to problems, mosques also became interesting for women, because they would integrate men into the Mosque societies.

If German citizens of Turkish origin now fight for their rights as Moslems, it is in many ways a sign that they have arrived in Germany and wish to stay. Whoever wishes to return back home to Turkey some day will fight for his or her interests back in Turkey. Whoever wishes to stay in Germany, will fight for their rights in their new home.

Turkey's membership in the European Union is most welcome to several Turkish businessmen in Germany. The Turkish-German chamber of commerce has always been an ardent supporter of Turkish accession and it has put its weight firmly behind Gerhard Schröder, who backs Turkey's membership. From a macro-economic point of view, Germany appears likely to benefit from a further lowering of trade barriers between the EU and Turkey, a market of 69 million people. It is already Turkey's biggest trading partner, with exports of 8.9 billion Euros to the country in 2003, up 18 per cent from 2002. German companies are the biggest investors in Turkey, with a total of 3.4 billion Euros invested since 1980. Many immigrants also show a great willingness to face risks. A survey by the Centre for Turkish Studies at the University of Essen put the number of entrepreneurs of Turkish origin in Germany at 56,800, with their businesses having total sales of 26 billion Euros and 290,000 employees. More of this is needed because there is nothing better than business to smash ghetto mentalities because trade forces people to interact with and understand their neighbours.

Yet the attitude of some Turkish males to their women does not always coincide with German law, nor does it coincide with the way young Turkish men and women choose to lead their life in Istanbul or Ankara. Seyran Ates, a Turkish lawyer, who has been awarded a prize for the work she has done to help Turkish women in Berlin, is angry with Germany' s attitude which has been until recently to disregard the whole problem, wishing to be tolerant. Forced marriages, physical or sexual violence among couples are not compatible with German law. According to a survey carried out among Turkish women, a quarter gets to know their own husband only at marriage, and nine per cent said that they had been forced into a marriage. Seyran Ates almost died after an attempt to kill her in 1984, while she was working in an office that was established to help women in need. The would-be assassin was a Moslem Turk of strong faith, who was associated with a Turkish nationalist association called “Grey Wolves”. She argues: "Why not combine the work permit with certain demands, such as that of a man letting his wife take German language courses?” Seyran Ates asks. "Europe has a right to defend its occidental values with self-confidence!" There are also other voices which proclaim further measures, such as for instance raising the age of a prospective husband or wife migrating from Turkey to Germany to 22 – a measure that was taken in Denmark.

In Turkey itself, where wearing an Islamic headscarf in schools, universities or public offices is forbidden, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his strongly religious Islamic background recently attempted to re-allow women to wear the Islamic head scarf in the above-mentioned places in order to please his pious constituents. But the ban was upheld by the Turkish army and by Turkey’s constitutional court, as well as by the oppositional social democratic party.

One day ahead of the occasion of the International Women’s Day (08.03.2005), Turkish policemen were seen on television screens around Europe to have beaten and kicked women who were demonstrating for their cause. The demonstration had not officially been allowed to take place, yet there was a strong uproar about the policemen’s behaviour. Ever since, the question of women and their rights is being widely debated in public. Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan has now spoken up about his ideal of women. “In the old Turkish tradition”, he said, “the woman has always been appreciated as mother and wife, as sister and mistress“. It was no coincidence that there is a saying in Turkey that “paradise lays at the feet of women”. His government’s aim was therefore to strengthen the family bonds. “Once our family structure is undermined, then our future is also endangered”, the head of government warned. “The education of our daughters should be just as important to us as the education of our sons”, he proclaimed at the “International Women’s Day” to members of his Justice and Development party (AKP). He further elaborated that otherwise women would be discriminated against. But discriminating women was even „more primitive than racism“, he said.

In spite of its conservative outlook, Erdogan’s government has initiated a number of reforms in the field of women’s rights. According to the new civil code, the man is no longer officially the head of the family. Women have the possibility to maintain their own surname after marriage. Their vocational training no longer depends on the approval of the husband. The possession acquired in marriage would be shared equally should a divorce come about. In addition, the article 462 that has granted reduced sentences for so-called honour killings has been abolished. Rapists no longer enjoy acquittal if they are prepared to marry their victims. The moderate Islamists are thereby pursuing the path that was once chosen by Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic.

During the German chancellor’s recent visit to Turkey, Gerhard Schröder encouraged Turkey’s reform policies. He spoke in favour of the EU abandoning its policy of isolation and granting financial support amounting to 259 million Euro to the northern Turkish part of Cyprus. The reproach of genocide that many European countries are making against Turkey is another delicate subject matter. The EU Parliament has demanded from Turkey an admission to these historic facts. Turkey itself speaks of 200.000 Armenian victims; other sources say that 1.5 million Armenians were killed while being deported in the direction of Iraq and Syria in 1915. Chancellor Schröder lends support to Prime Minister Erdogan’s proposal to introduce a joint Armenian-Turkish commission of historians to examine the accusations. Here it must be mentioned that Germany is not totally without involvement in this matter, as it is an established fact that it was aware of what was happening within the Ottoman empire at the time, but turned a blind eye to these events in order to secure the continued assistance of Turkey as an ally during World War I. Nevertheless, Germany is in a good position to give advice, as it has understood that the best way to make a new start and to fashion the future in a positive way is to own up to the past and admit mistakes and wrongdoings.

In spite of the tremendous reforms Turkey has undertaken, there is still a certain amount of resistance to Turkish nationals in European countries. In his book about the Germans’ fear of the Turks (“Die Angst der Deutschen vor den Türken”), broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s head of the Turkish language programme, Baha Güngör, has carefully analysed the phenomenon. He points to the many positive aspects and enthusiastically pleads for Turkey to become a member of the European Union. Recently however he has been quoted as saying that Erdogan may be in danger of failing in his policy of pursuing EU membership. The campaign for ratifying the EU constitution in France on May 29th was held with anti-Turkish slogans. “Most Turks today feel mobbed by the European Union. There are more and more demands coming from Brussels and the prospects for being rewarded are getting increasingly smaller,“ Baha Güngör was quoted as saying in a daily German newspaper.

In a globalising world, nations feel pressure to join trade and political pacts. The European Union started out as a free trade zone and built considerable political integration over a period of several decades. The basic idea behind this formation was the reconciliation between former arch enemies. The experience of something that must have looked from the outside as the “collective suicide” of millions of men and women living in Europe during two bloody world wars has propelled the political and economic movement towards this success. 60 years of peace have now made the region attractive to other countries. When nations join with others in a trade or political bloc, they have to overcome excessive nationalism and give up some of their sovereignty. Is Turkey ready to follow this line and submit itself not only to the rights but also to the duties involved in the process? Will it be able to identify with European norms and standards and not regard directions from Brussels as interference in their own internal affairs? It remains to be seen. But Turkey has introduced so many bold and progressive measures towards reaching this goal, that it is certain to get a helping hand from Europe.
The End
published in DEFENCE JOURNAL in June 2005

THE EUROPEAN UNION -

A RECIPE FOR PEACE AND PROSPERITY ?

After two devastating world wars, Europe has experienced decades of peace through the founding of an economic club that began with six member countries and is now a political entity with 500 million inhabitants in 27 countries

“The war to end all wars” lasted four years. The ambitious slogan, circulated beforehand, showed that, at the time, the European powers were full of national pride and burning to find their rightful place in the hierarchy of power. The First World War (1914-1918) was a barbaric war and caused the deaths of more than eight million people.
And yet the first half of the 20th century was to experience more destruction. The war that was to follow – the Second World War (1939-1945), was even more devastating and led to the deaths of over 40 million people, including around six million Jews. Each time, the USA was drawn into the conflict.
What were the causes of these wars and how would it be possible to avoid such barbarity in the future?

Map of Europe from: "Die Geschichte Europas" (The history of Europe) - Jacques Le Goff (Beltz & Gelberg Verlag)

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo by a South Slav unionist in June 1914 had led to Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia. Serbia wanted to break away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and form a new nation of South Slav natonals. The Russian Empire started to mobilize its troops in defence of its ally Serbia, which resulted in the German Empire declaring war on Russia in support of its ally Austria-Hungary. As Germany tried to avoid a war on two fronts against both Russia and its ally France, it attacked France first. Turkey sided with the Central powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The USA joined the Allies a little later on. Besides the widespread destruction, World War I also spelt the end of three great multinational empires: the Habsburg, the Russian and the Ottoman empires.

With the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, World War I had come to an end, but many of the underlying conflicts remained. Germany was made to accept full guilt for the war, and lost much of its European territory and all of its overseas territories. With this “war guilt clause,” Germany felt humiliated, and after a while was unable to meet the heavy reparation demands made on it. By 1931 the Allies had realized this mistake, but the Nazi regime that followed from 1933 onwards could not be stopped and proved to be ruthlessly expansionist. Hitler dictated savage policies which were mainly directed against Jews and the peoples of Eastern Europe whom Hitler considered inferior. There exists a telling quote from Hitler, who declared that “the essence of Europe is not geographical but racial.” Jews were persecuted indiscriminately. More than seven million foreign workers were conscripted for the German armaments production. This inhuman approach strengthened the will of the victimised countries and peoples to resist. The aggressors of World War II – Germany, Italy and Japan – overreached themselves and built up such a hostile coalition of powers that disaster and defeat became inevitable. The Second World War not only led to the deaths of more than 40 million people, it also left behind an estimated 21 million people who were “displaced” or had refugee status in Europe.

MUTUAL INSPECTION OF EACH OTHER'S WAR MACHINES

After the end of the war in 1945, the arch enemies France and Germany in particular were highly suspicious of each other. Jean Monnet had the brilliant idea to allow each country to inspect the other’s “war machines” : the production of coal and steel. Especially the Ruhr district with its huge coal mines and steel production companies were to be closely inspected by France. Monnet’s idea was as follows: “There will be no peace in Europe, if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty. The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation...”

He proposed a plan to take control of the German areas and redirect the output of German coal production away from German industry and into French industry instead, permanently weakening Germany and raising the French economy considerably above its pre-war levels. But it was also to be a mutual measure with the intent to place France’s and Germany’s coal and steel industries under joint management. It became known as the “Montanunion”, the front runner of the European Union. As of 1950, this European Coal and Steel Community began to unite European countries economically and politically in order to secure lasting peace. The six founders were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Great Britain was not to join the European community until 1973.

Additionally, the plan was meant to stabilize the newly created Federal Republic of Germany. It was also to be seen as a sign of reconciliation between the two main World War II adversaries, France and Germany, as opposed to the Treaty of Versailles following World War I which had imposed severe penalties and reparations on a defeated Germany that were considered humiliating.

Fifty years ago, in 1957, with the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the European Economic Community (EEC) was created. It also became known as the “Common Market.” This was the time of the cold war between the capitalist west and the communist east. Protests in Hungary against the communist regime were put down by Soviet tanks in 1956, while in 1957 the Soviet Union took the lead in the space race, when it launched the first man-made space satellite, Sputnik 1. Right from the beginning the EU was not intended to be about co-operation between sovereign governments. It is not inter-governmental, but supranational. The dividing line is the veto: where there are vetoes, there is only a new, supranational or “federal” level of government. National parliaments and governments are left in place, but are subordinated to the EU. This was Monnet’s plan.

But how to unite a continent with so many different nations and outlooks? A famous writer
From Prague, Karel Capek, wrote characteristically: “The creator of Europe made it small and even divided it into tiny pieces, so that our hearts may not enjoy its size, but rather its diversity”. And this is Europe’s motto: “United in diversity”. In her speech in January 2007, celebrating the beginning of Germany’s six-month rotating presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2007, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, stated clearly that for her “tolerance” is the essence of Europe. Only tolerance will allow people to develop themselves freely and creatively without too many restrictions. The “Berlin Declaration” on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome emphasizes the importance of the individual for Europe in its very first paragraph: “In the European Union, we are turning our common ideals into reality: for us, the individual is paramount. His dignity is inviolable. His rights are inalienable.”

Having lived under the totalitarian, communist regime of East Germany herself, the former GDR, Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is in a good position to fully appreciate the
democratic and free way of life, which she had to miss for so long. Even here the EU has helped. By far the most successful EU foreign policy has been its own expansion. In the 1980s the prospect of joining played a critical part in ensuring a smooth transition from dictatorship to more democracy in Greece, Spain and Portugal. More recently it has transformed the east European countries as they moved from communist central planning to liberal democracy. Out of the present 27 member countries, ten once belonged to the former communist Soviet bloc – the USSR. These countries joined the EU out of their own free choice. Yet in spite of some huge differences in the economic and cultural infrastructure of the 27 member countries, the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, has stated clearly that the EU does not want to create 2nd class countries.

Yet democratic freedom needs certain preconditions: it needs the equality of opportunity, it needs a social system with benefits for people who have become unable to work in case of illness or adversity, but where this welfare system is not being abused. A free and democratic country needs a separation of powers, as well as the right of individuals or groups to express their own opinion – the freedom of expression. As the great French thinker Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) had originally formulated it: “government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another”. It was his ground-breaking theory on the separation of powers that persists till today: “the administrative powers are the legislative, the executive and the judiciary which should be separate from and dependent upon each other so that the influence of any one power would not be able to exceed that of the other two, either singly or in combination.”

Democracy also means accepting the peaceful transition of power and allowing the next generations to choose a leader of their own choice. This however also means being able to place more trust in institutions for security and survival rather than in the family, the clan or a particular ethnic group. Any arising strong nationalistic or racist feelings need to be kept in check. Democracy has even facilitated a peaceful “regime change” in the former communist East Germany by implementing a policy of rapprochement or détente. Signing deal after deal, allowing small improvements for both sides, based firmly on the assurance never to use force to achieve its goals, democratic West Germany has helped to bring down the Berlin Wall, the “Iron Curtain” in Europe.

The European Union has brought peace to Europe to this day because it has shown that instead of conquering or dominating other countries, it is possible to extend borders and accept neighbours into a community and talk together at a round table to determine the laws that are to be applied around the region. Every member state loses a part of its national sovereignty but gains a vote in the concert. Without Europe there would have been no Kyoto Protocole, the International Criminal Court would not have come into existence and the United Nations would be worse off. Europe backs international law, diplomacy, multilateralism and “soft power”. Sanctions, or even military interventions are Ultima Ratio – they are applied as a very last resort.

Europe belongs to a region which enjoys the highest standard of living for most of its citizens. Nevertheless, wages in all industrialized countries have been under pressure due to growing global competition and technological change. In Germany for instance, automotive workers over the past few years agreed to work longer and more flexible hours for no increase in pay to prevent their jobs moving to Slovakia and elsewhere. Competing against lower social standards which still exist in other regions of the world, such as child labour, disregard for copyright laws or the lack of protection and security standards for workers, is a challenge currently facing Europeans. Hopefully Europe may contribute towards securing similarly high standards for other people around the world.

All member countries must participate in the single market, with its four freedoms of movement of goods, services, labour and capital. Most of them are also members of NATO, but some are not. Twelve are in the Schengen passport-free travel zone, with the addition of three non-members. On 1st January 2002 the European currency “Euro” banknotes and coins were put into circulation in the Euro area member states. The currency, which has meanwhile been adopted by 13 member states, has saved Europe from many a financial crisis and has helped to preserve working places in the face of stiffer competition from around the world. It has become a hard currency. Trade between these countries is like domestic trade: there are no risks of devaluations or appreciations. There is plenty of scope for mergers which help to bring down the production costs of companies, making it easier for Europe to face world competition.

However, the increased cost of living today is dividing society more and more into those with capital – who are doing well - and those who have nothing but their employability and willingness to work. The gap between rich and poor is increasing. Hedge funds or private equity firms with huge amounts of capital search for an annual return of up to 30% annually by buying up companies, making them incur debt, dividing them up into profitable and non-profitable units and selling them off. In doing so, they sometimes show little or no regard for the fate of individual employees and their families or for the significance of the company to the local region and infrastructure – in other words, for the more idealistic and humane aspects of economic life! Some of these transactions have indeed turned out to be beneficial instruments for modernizing and rationalizing a company, yet others have proved disastrous. If capitalism has helped to bring about technological innovation, mass production and efficient industries, if it has also helped to kick-start growth and development in poorer regions, its excesses will certainly need to be controlled! This all the more so since the EU gives such enormous priority to the “individual” in principle. The German government is at present preparing a new law to demand more transparency from hedge fund or private equity institutions.

The EU has been successful because its bureaucracy provides it with routine work which helps to maintain smooth proceedings even if two states happen to be quarelling with each other. War between member states is thus made almost impossible because of the interlinked administrations and jurisdictions. Europe is good because it has made travelling with passport controls largely a thing of the past.

The European Union can redefine itself permanently. Beginning as a coal and steel community, it became an economic community with a single market and later turned into a political and legal entity in which common values are being upheld. What will come tomorrow? A European social state? Or a world power? Nobody knows for sure, but the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has recently stated that the EU’s national states will be preserved and the EU will never become a federal state, but some day the EU might have its own army.

Germany – with its tendency towards perfectionism in good or bad – is afraid of its own strength and even more afraid of the envy, rivalry and suspicion its strength arouses among other European powers. A happy identification with its own past is not easily possible for Germans, and Europe is a most welcome alternative. It has therefore always wanted an integrated Europe and has been the motor behind this movement.

April 2007