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The European Union Still Eludes a Turkey


Mars

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The European Union Still Eludes a Turkey Culturally Apart

Handan T. Satiroglu | Bio | 30 Aug 2007

World Politics Review Exclusive

French President Nicolas Sarkozy once made headlines with the remark, "If Turkey were Europe, we would know it." In July, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso gave voice to similar European sentiments in a Greek newspaper interview: "Let's be honest," he said, "Turkey is not ready to become an EU member and the EU is not ready to accept Turkey as a member. Neither tomorrow, nor the next day." Despite the overwhelmingly positive European response to Erdogan's recent triumph at the polls, and calls to revamp Turkey's political and economic reforms by European leaders, one fact remains clear: Turkey's membership in the EU is as elusive as ever.

Would a Muslim nation of 72 million joining the EU serve to create a dichotomy of two distinct civilizations? Turkey's membership hinges upon introducing an array of political reforms in the areas of civil rights, free speech, and gender equality, as well as changes in its acceptance of general European values. Starkly different in a number of social and political arenas, Turkey stands worlds apart from Europe.

Freedom of Speech and Press

As a country aspiring to become part of the EU, Turkey is obliged to observe laws spelled out by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. But as Josh Calder, an analyst at Social Technologies, a Washington, D.C.-based forecasting firm, points out, "Turkey and Western Europe exist in different eras," when it comes to civil liberties.

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Indeed, if the defining line between a civilized and uncivilized nation is the degree to which it accords freedom of speech to its citizens, then Turkey fares poorly. Since shortly before the establishment of modern day Turkey in 1923, one journalist has been assassinated on average every 1.5 years. According to a report released earlier this year by the New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists, in the past 15 years alone, 18 journalists have been murdered in Turkey for merely voicing an opinion contradicting the status quo. Furthermore, up until the 1990s, only China had more "prisoners of thought" than Turkey.

Although there are no reliable government-issued statistics on the number of unfolding prosecutions for speech-related offenses, the most recent quarterly report of Istanbul-based media monitoring news service Bianet reveals that 132 individuals and seven media organs had trial hearings from May to June in 2007. Twelve of these pending cases involve charges brought under the infamous Turkish penal code article 301, making it a crime to insult "Turkishness."

The penal code was thrust into the international spotlight with the January murder of Armenian-Turkish writer Hrant Dink. The case of Dink illustrated with harsh clarity the potentially deadly consequences of speech-related prosecutions.

Women in Politics

Standing before the 1935 meeting of the International Women's Congress, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic, dared to declare in Istanbul: "I am convinced that the exercise of social and political rights by women is necessary for mankind's happiness and pride. You can rest assured that Turkish women together with [the] world's women will work towards world peace and security."

Fast forward to 2007, and politics in Ankara is still a man's game. Although Turkish women were granted the right to vote in 1934, well before European countries such as Switzerland, France, and Belgium, efforts to involve women equally in politics have since stalled. The average level of women's representation at the parliamentary level has hovered around 2-4 percent since 1935, and recently shot up to 10 percent with the July elections. According to critics, this small increase in women's participation is a calculated tactic to refute criticisms of the winning party's Islamic agenda. Especially telling of the general attitude toward women in Turkish politics are the recent statements of Devlet Bahceli, head of the secular nationalist party Milliyetci Hareket Partisi (MHP), who instructed his MPs to respect the women parliamentarians, and "avoid major confrontations with them."

By comparison, Europe's Nordic countries boast female representation rates of 40 percent or more, while in Bulgaria and Poland, relative newcomers to the EU, women constitute 22 percent of the parliament. Many European countries, including Spain, Germany, France, and England, have implemented quota systems to ensure women's representation in elected bodies. Calls to implement a similar quota system in Turkey have thus far gone ignored by the government.

Undoubtedly, Turkish women enjoy greater freedoms than those in the vast majority of Muslim countries, including the right to vote, the right to divorce, and the right of abortion. Yet, by current EU standards, Turkey clearly lags behind.

American-Style Religiosity

Then there is the issue many Europeans consider most emblematic of Europe -- aversion to religion. The sharp decline in church attendance is often seen as testament to secularization's grip on the European public sentiment. A 2004 Gallup poll found that just 15 percent of Europeans, compared with 44 percent of Americans, attend a place of worship weekly, and only 21 percent of Europeans say religion is "very important" to them. And, despite last minute campaigning by Poland, Italy, and Ireland, the EU constitution omits any mention of God.

By contrast -- as in the United States -- religiosity is fully embraced in Turkey. In an Angus Reid Global Monitor poll in 2006, 51 percent of Turks -- and a surprising 63 percent of Americans -- defended the importance of religion. Interestingly, in a recent survey of public acceptance of the Darwinian theory of evolution, Turkey also came in last, just behind the United States. According to Mustafa Akyol, a prolific and pious author based in Istanbul, "Turkey is closer to the United States than it is to Europe in many respects -- most notably, the role of religion in public life." He adds that "many Turkish conservatives find the spirit of a 'nation under God' much more appealing than the bluntly secular European ethos." So appealing that Turks in 750 different mosques in the capital city of Ankara, which is suffering from a severe water shortage, prayed for rain this month.

Europeans are fearful of Turkey's Islamic influence on the European social policy and culture. Recent surveys indicate that only 35 percent of Europeans favor Turkey's membership in the EU. Turkish membership would multiply the number of Muslims living in Europe more than five-fold, to an estimated 90 million.

Freedom of press and speech and attitudes toward women and religion in the public domain reflect an overall problem for Turkey: "When it comes to values and general outlook on the world, Turkey and Western Europe are decades apart," says Calder. "This phenomenon, which might be called dyschronicity, is even more acute if you compare certain parts of Europe to Turkey's Anatolian heartland: the time-gap between Sweden and some rural areas of Turkey is something like three or four centuries."

Kemal Ataturk, who died in 1938, conceived Turkey's destiny as a modern European state, but its lagging social and political reforms and cultural disposition continue to cast a dark shadow over the 41-year-old EU-Turkey courtship. Calder takes this line of thought to a harsh conclusion: "The European Union has come to see itself as a community of values. Turkey may be qualified for the Europe of 1950, but Europeans have progressed to other values, and are alarmed by the perceived gap." Turkey's entry into the EU is still an elusive dream.

Handan T. Satiroglu is a sociologist and writer who divides her time between the United States and Europe.

Photo: EU President José Manuel Barroso and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Brussels, Dec. 12, 2004 (European Commission)

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/article.aspx?id=1075

For such an anti-racist organization they really seem intolerant.

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I bet you Turkey will be allowed to join. The EU is far too socialist/idealistic..'we can all live together in magic land'

The EU IS already drowning in immigration from the er how do you say, the less desirable countries..

But the French don't care, they're still proud and nationalistic, they push them through France to the UK. As a Island, once they're here, we're stuck with them.

grrrrreeeeaaat.

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Europe cannot allow Third World nations and people to just walk into it freely. I agree with you. If I was European I would want my country out of the E.U. I don't like globalization is general.

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I bet you Turkey will be allowed to join. The EU is far too socialist/idealistic..'we can all live together in magic land'

The EU IS already drowning in immigration from the er how do you say, the less desirable countries..

But the French don't care, they're still proud and nationalistic, they push them through France to the UK. As a Island, once they're here, we're stuck with them.

grrrrreeeeaaat.

would not wager my money on that... France against and Germany against means .... right: forget it Turkey.

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Turkey is like the Mexico of Europe. ITs corrupted and poor and won't be fixed for a number of years.

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Turkey is like the Mexico of Europe. ITs corrupted and poor and won't be fixed for a number of years.

Not really, it is perfectly comparable with many countries already member of the union. The thing that gets some of our politicians riled up is that: ...Turkey is not part of our occidental Christian culture.

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Turkey is a vastly poor nation that denies the Armenian holocaust and refuses to give the Kurds a homeland. I don't see how they're civilized or consider uncivlized all because they follow Islam. The European Union is biased TOWARDS Islam if anything, since they allow millions of muslim to migrate to Europe.

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Turkey is a vastly poor nation that denies the Armenian holocaust and refuses to give the Kurds a homeland. I don't see how they're civilized or consider uncivlized all because they follow Islam. The European Union is biased TOWARDS Islam if anything, since they allow millions of muslim to migrate to Europe.

Then let me give you a link of somebody who certainly is no friend of Turkey:

http://ekem.gr/newsletters/368/eurobank-ec...-4-ioylioy-2006

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Turkey is like the Mexico of Europe. ITs corrupted and poor and won't be fixed for a number of years.

Not really.. I heard some parts of Mexico are alright..

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all this aside I found this to be sort of misleading

Then there is the issue many Europeans consider most emblematic of Europe -- aversion to religion. The sharp decline in church attendance is often seen as testament to secularization's grip on the European public sentiment. A 2004 Gallup poll found that just 15 percent of Europeans, compared with 44 percent of Americans, attend a place of worship weekly, and only 21 percent of Europeans say religion is "very important" to them. And, despite last minute campaigning by Poland, Italy, and Ireland, the EU constitution omits any mention of God.

it was found by another poll and then investigation that of those 44 % who say they go to church/mass ect ..... half are lying .

"Americans misreport how often they vote, how much they give to charity, and how frequently they use illegal drugs. People are not entirely accurate in their self-reports about other areas as well. Males exaggerate their number of sexual partners, university workers are not very honest about reporting how many photocopies they make. Actual attendance at museums, symphonies and operas does not match survey results. We should not expect religious behavior to be immune to such misreporting." Kirk Hadaway, a sociologists at the United Church of Christ, (1993) 1,2

"... despite the rhetoric, active religious participation remains a minority interest in American life." Tom Flynn, writer for Free Inquiry magazine, (1998). 2

Hadaway, Marler, and Mark Chaves counted the number of people attending four Protestant churches in Ashtabula County, OH, and in 18 Roman Catholic dioceses throughout the U.S. In their 1993 report they stated that actual attendance was only about half of the level reported in public opinion surveys: 20% vs. 40% for Protestants, and 28% vs. 50% for Roman Catholics. 1,11

They later returned to Ashtabula County to measure attendance by Roman Catholics. They physically counted the number of attendees at each mass over several months. They concluded that 24% of Catholics in he county actually attended mass. They then polled residents of the county by telephone. 51% of Roman Catholic respondents said that they had attended church during the previous week. Apparently, most were lying.

Later in 1993, Jay Demerath of the University of Massachusetts referred to the gap between poll results and reality. He said: "Gallup and other pollsters are aware of this. It’s kind of a dirty little secret." 1

Many academics were not convinced thatthe 20% church attendance estimate was valid. Thomas Smith of the National Opinion Research Center said:

"There’s a claim that surveys lead to overreporting of church attendance, which seems to be correct. The question is by how much. We haven’t nailed down how much Americans exaggerate." 1

In 1998-FEB, Hadaway, Marler, and Chaves published another article reinforcing the validity of their 20% church attendance rate estimate. Hadaway told the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

"We believe that too much trust has been placed in survey data and not enough attention given to membership records, patterns of giving, and even the incredulity of local church pastors when they hear that 40 percent of Americans attend church during an average week." 2, 12

http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_rate.htm

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I really can't see a reason why they shouldn't allow Turkey in, besides a racist one. Turkey is a European country in it's culture, history and partly geography.

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Nope, Geographically, religiously, and historically has been Middle Eastern. Its true Turkey was inhabited by Indo-Europeans but that is long over. Mongols and Arabs moved into the land and invaded (changing laws to more of their own kind). Turkey, IMO should establish a Kurdish homeland and perhaps a part of Turkey should go to Armenia ( a lot of it was their land).

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I really can't see a reason why they shouldn't allow Turkey in, besides a racist one.

That's a valid point; we don't want Turkey because it's full of racists. Islamo nazis.

Good one..

Edited by billyhill
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I really can't see a reason why they shouldn't allow Turkey in, besides a racist one. Turkey is a European country in it's culture, history and partly geography.

I'd have to agree with Mars here Erikl. Turkey is a Muslim country (albeit not yet part of the Caliphate). It is diametricly opposed to the predominant culture of the EU. This is not racist, but a reflection of culture and reality.

Turkey is NOT a part of Europe. If the 'ivory tower' marxist "we love every culture but our own" politicians (such as Blair) have their way - and they are in the majority in Europe - seek to push for Turkish accesion, then this will split the EU. And about time.

Oh... wait...

This means I FAVOUR Turkish accession..

Hmmm... on reflection, it's all getting FAR to complicated for the Working Cat to comprehend.

Meow Purr. :)

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Turkey is like the Mexico of Europe. ITs corrupted and poor and won't be fixed for a number of years.

Not more or less corrupted than any other country in Europe, just to stupid to hide. And how do you explain poor?????? What a joke.

What about Rumania, Bulgaria and other countries that just joined? I probably have more money in my pocket then those two countries combined.

Turkey is a nation where the population is mostly muslims. So, this is a no-go to EU.

Billyhill is also right. France and other countries sent all the immigrants from poorer countries to England. This is a political assassination of England.

Also what is it about the Kurds? Their land is only with one portion in Turkey and divided by 4 more countries, so why just blaming Turkey????

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Hi all,

I dont want Turkey in the EU, the UK already pays far too much money to other European countries, if Turkey is let in how much further east will the EU go, all this utopia rubbish people just going from country to country having an open door policy, i dunno, Britain should pull out of the EU, we can still trade but please lets stop being ruled by Europe, you only have to look at the recent Foot and Mouth outbreak in the UK, ALL meat exports Banned. A couple of months ago dead Swans found in south west Germany and in France with Brid Flu H5N1, but did we in Britain ban the import of French or German poultry NO, all i can see is europe is a one way relationship when it comes to the UK, i know one thing if we sign up to the EU hook line and sinker im outta here and off to Australia or New Zealand,

and the Government wonders why there's a record number of Britons leaving, simple answer, the country is going down hill faster than Eddie the eagle,

Steve,

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Not more or less corrupted than any other country in Europe,

No, you can't seriously compre Turkey's corruption to Britain or Germany or whatnot.

just to stupid to hide. And how do you explain poor?????? What a joke.

Mexico is a poor nation but they are breaking out of their poverty. One day I bet Mexico will break out of the third world. Turkey still is like Mexico, it can't join a union with all of Europe just yet.

What about Rumania, Bulgaria and other countries that just joined? I probably have more money in my pocket then those two countries combined.

Romanians are culturally a Latin people, and of Slavic descent. they're close to Europeans and fit in well. I'm not European, however its not a smart move to take in too many poor nations at a time. What would you say if Canada began annexing large parts of sub-sahara Africa and Latin America all at once??

Turkey is a nation where the population is mostly muslims. So, this is a no-go to EU.

Muslims already are having problems in Europe. Exactly.

Also what is it about the Kurds? Their land is only with one portion in Turkey and divided by 4 more countries, so why just blaming Turkey????

I'm guessing you are of Turkish descent? Yeah I think Iraq should also give Kurds a home, may be a Kurdistan. However America can't decide for them.

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linked-image

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Nope, Geographically, religiously, and historically has been Middle Eastern. Its true Turkey was inhabited by Indo-Europeans but that is long over. Mongols and Arabs moved into the land and invaded (changing laws to more of their own kind). Turkey, IMO should establish a Kurdish homeland and perhaps a part of Turkey should go to Armenia ( a lot of it was their land).

You continue to boast you ignorance in the history of the region. "Mongols and Arabs moved into the land"? Last time I looked at the average Mongol layman, he looked nothing like a Turk. Turks look just like your average Greek. Want to know why? Because 99% of the Turks are Greeks who converted to Islam 5 centuries ago. Since it's creation and until as recently as 85 years ago Turkey ruled a very large part of South Eastern Europe. It can be seen all over that region - my mom came from Romania and I can't stop counting how many "traditional" Romanian foods are originally Turkish.

Not only that but the Turks have always invested more in their European territories - the Asian, Middle-Eastern parts of it were the poorer, less developed, less important ones. Arabs moving into Turkey? Ah! you just made 60 million Turks laugh! Asian sub-humans were rarely granted permission to enter Turkish cities, and the Turks rarely moved into Arab cities. This is in complete opposite of their conducting in Europe - they granted many European citizens of their empire the permission to move into Istanbul and Ankara, and ofcourse Izmir had a "European", Greek majority until 80 years ago. There were also many major Turkish colonies all over their European part.

Yes Turkey has an ethnic problem with a problematic minority and a dark genocide in their past, but hey - doesn't these two only make them more European? ;)

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You continue to boast you ignorance in the history of the region. "Mongols and Arabs moved into the land"? Last time I looked at the average Mongol layman, he looked nothing like a Turk.

Actually DNA proves there was a Mongol element in that area. The Turanoids I believe they were. Arabs lived relatively close to Asia Minor and theres been traces of Semitic DNA in the Turks. Which is why Turkey isn't ethnically/racially 'European'. I have seen Turkish people and they do not look like Greeks, rather a lot look like people from the Middle East.

see map:

linked-image

Turks look just like your average Greek.

I wouldn't say that to a Greek. Theres 'white' Turks left in there from the original ones who lived there and Rome's Constantinople.

Want to know why? Because 99% of the Turks are Greeks who converted to Islam 5 centuries ago. Since it's creation and until as recently as 85 years ago Turkey ruled a very large part of South Eastern Europe.

In a sample of 125 Greeks from Thessaloniki and Sarakatsani, 2 Asian-specific mtDNA sequences (M and D) were detected (1.6%). No sub-Saharan African genes were observed in this population. Therefore, non-Caucasoid maternal ancestry in Greece is very low, as elsewhere in Europe. Greece is 'white' but I don't see evidence that Turkey is 'white' whatsoever.

And the Ottoman Empire did take over parts of Europe.

It can be seen all over that region - my mom came from Romania and I can't stop counting how many "traditional" Romanian foods are originally Turkish.

So? Thats just a small cultural influence.

Not only that but the Turks have always invested more in their European territories - the Asian, Middle-Eastern parts of it were the poorer, less developed, less important ones. Arabs moving into Turkey? Ah! you just made 60 million Turks laugh! Asian sub-humans were rarely granted permission to enter Turkish cities, and the Turks rarely moved into Arab cities. This is in complete opposite of their conducting in Europe - they granted many European citizens of their empire the permission to move into Istanbul and Ankara, and ofcourse Izmir had a "European", Greek majority until 80 years ago. There were also many major Turkish colonies all over their European part.

Show me DNA evidence that Turks are Indo-Europeans with NO ARAB OR MONGOL ancestry.

Yes Turkey has an ethnic problem with a problematic minority and a dark genocide in their past, but hey - doesn't these two only make them more European? ;)

Turky-- NO entrance to the EU

And besides RACES DON'T MATTER! Turkey isn't of a European culture!

Edited by Mars
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Turkey is a Muslim country (albeit not yet part of the Caliphate). It is diametricly opposed to the predominant culture of the EU.

People, you must seperate religion from culture. For instance, Yiddish-speaking, European Jews were culturally European. But their Arab-speaking, Iraqi Jews brethren were culturally Middle-Eastern. Yet both adhere the same religion.

Turks adhere to Islam. But so does some Bosnians. And the majority of Albanians. Does this means that Albania and those muslim Bosnians are any less European than, say, the French?

The Turks used to adhere Orthodox Christianity. They used to be the citizens of the Byzantine Empire - the last remaining part of the great Roman Empire. Would you consider the Byzantine Empire to not be European? If so - then Cyprus has nothing to do in the European Union because it's not geographically European and it's in mainly because culturally it's Greek, and that's only thanks to the fact that it used to be part of the Byzantine Empire.

The, few centuries ago the Turks were forced to accept Islam. Yet they still felt more attached to Europe. Does this means that culturally it's not European?

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From wikipedia:

"The Ottoman Empire had filled the centuries-old power vacuum left behind by the Roman and Byzantine empires in roughly the same territories around the Mediterranean Sea, while adopting their traditions, art and institutions; and adding new dimensions to them. The Turkish Bath, which has its origins in the Roman Bath; Ottoman classical music, which was largely inspired by the Byzantine church hymns; and Ottoman mosques, which were greatly influenced by the design of the Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine cathedral, are only a few examples."

Ottoman Empire.

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People, you must seperate religion from culture. For instance, Yiddish-speaking, European Jews were culturally European. But their Arab-speaking, Iraqi Jews brethren were culturally Middle-Eastern. Yet both adhere the same religion.

In the specific case of Islam; Religion, culture, law and politics are co-mingled. Submit or die.

Turks adhere to Islam. But so does some Bosnians. And the majority of Albanians. Does this means that Albania and those muslim Bosnians are any less European than, say, the French?

We're already having problems with the Albanians in the UK. So YES... they are less "European". (but then, the whole "European" concept is profoundly flawed)

The Turks used to adhere Orthodox Christianity. They used to be the citizens of the Byzantine Empire - the last remaining part of the great Roman Empire. Would you consider the Byzantine Empire to not be European? If so - then Cyprus has nothing to do in the European Union because it's not geographically European and it's in mainly because culturally it's Greek, and that's only thanks to the fact that it used to be part of the Byzantine Empire.

We have lots of Greeks in the UK. Also Italians. I don't recall hearing any of them bombing London, or driving petrol bombs into Glasgow Airport.

The, few centuries ago the Turks were forced to accept Islam. Yet they still felt more attached to Europe. Does this means that culturally it's not European?

Turkey has been teetering on the edge of being a new Islamic Republic for decades. If an Islamic Republic enters the EU, then we have admitted a group that is dedicated to the overthrow of democracy. So yes, we should be hesitant. An Islamic government is incompatible with membership of the Geneva Convention, let alone membership of the EU.

You know, Turkey could EQUALLY have applied to be a member of the new Russian confederation. But then... Russia rejected them.

Meow PUrr.

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In the specific case of Islam; Religion, culture, law and politics are co-mingled. Submit or die.

I disagree. You could say the same about Christian and Jewish fundamentalists. The fact that in modern times it's easier to find religious-extremist on the muslim side doesn't mean all or even most muslims are like that.

We're already having problems with the Albanians in the UK. So YES... they are less "European". (but then, the whole "European" concept is profoundly flawed)

Yeah but I've heard you have issues with Romanians and Poles in the UK as well... that still doesn't mean they are not European or less European than you just because they don't get along too well in o' chilly Britain.

A map shows that Albania is neatly located in continental Europe - even closer to Britain than Greek or Cyprus are:

Map of Albian.

(this same map also shows that the UK isn't geographically connected to mainland Europe, yet it is still considered European and it would be stupid to not consider it as such).

And Turkey isn't going to become an Islamic republic, no more than Germany is going to turn into a Christian theocracy following a Christian Democracy victory in elections.

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