Pax Europa

Essays on Peace By Jan Mortier, Civitatis

Category: EU External Affairs

EU Foreign Policy for Climate Change? By Jan Mortier

The following paper is compiled from findings and research undertaken by Jan Mortier for his work at and drafting the report of the ‘From Bali to Poznan: New Issues, New Challenges’ conference that was held at the European Parliament, the first conference in the world to be held immediately after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali. This paper draws on the conclusions and factual content of a broader Civitatis Report.

The Institute for Environmental Security in association with Global Legislators Organisation fora Balanced Environment (GLOBE-EU and GLOBE-Europe) and e-Parliament convened the conference “From Bali to Poznan” to examine new issues and new challenges which will need to be addressed in the coming twelve months. This conference – the first such gathering to assess the results of the Bali negotiations – was held at that European Parliament in Brussels on 18 December 2007. The conference included a number of participants who had taken part in and just returned from Bali, members of the European Parliament, members of national parliaments, representatives from the European Council, European Commission, and European Social and Economic Committee, representatives of EU Member States, senior US military staff, UNDP, OSCE, Civitatis and the CFSP, the Club of Rome and other prominent NGOs, think-tanks, academics and researchers.

Click this image to download our full report for IES

This conference included briefings on the results of the United Nations Climate Change Conference which was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 14 December 2007 and enabled participants to discuss issues to be of concern to the international community during the coming year in the lead up to the next UNCCC in Poznan, 1-12 December 2008.

In particular, the Brussels conference included presentations and debate on:

  • The implications of climate change for international security.
  • Escaping from fossil fuels: The solar alternative.
  • The impact on environment, security and development of illegal trade in natural resources.
  • Climate Change and the formation of European foreign policy.

The exhaustive report drafted by Jan Mortier and our previous Covitatis Report: Forces for Sustainability are available upon request.


EU Foreign Policy for Climate Change, the Most Pressing Challenge in the 21st Century

“We have an opportunity to forge and follow a new agenda for national and world security. First and foremost, our security is threatened by the global environmental crisis, which could render all our other progress meaningless, unless we deal with it successfully. …As a world community, we must prove that we are wise enough to control what we have been smart enough to create. We must understand that the old conception of global security – with its focus almost solely on armies, ideologies, and geopolitics – has to be enlarged.”

– Al Gore, The Assault on Reason, 2007

The Challenge for global governance and world order in the 21st century can be prioritized in importance and therefore urgency of action by the scale and potential for adverse impact on humanity in the immediate to near term. There is an urgent need for global decision makers to address the following issues in order of importance as a priority, lest the world order be de-stabilized at best, or cataclysm and conflict ensue at worst.

  1. Climate change, for its urgent and universal effect on all humanity and the planet’s biosphere.
  2. The proliferation and expenditure on nuclear weapons by states.
  3. The new global arms race resulting from a destabilized post second Iraq war world order that has left states insecure and the hyperpower unilateral.
  4. The economic and security implications of nuclear and arms racing, that has seen global arms expenditure exceed one trillion dollars, a resource which could otherwise be put toward increased global human development, economic growth or space exploration.
  5. Poverty, which is affected by all of the above, provides a powder keg of insecurity that sees two thirds of humanity, living in atrocious inhuman conditions.
  6. The structural and institutional inefficiencies of the current world order that operates to the Westphalian paradigm and arrangement more suited to the architectural needs of the post second world war era. The outdated global architecture is grossly inadequate for the current needs of the planet, and has fostered an atmosphere of ‘it can’t be done’, and ‘the problem is too big to deal with’ as shown by the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, where negotiations to discuss future talks at Copenhagan and Poznan very nearly failed.

Each of the above challenges for world order are of the utmost importance to address, even more so as they are each interrelated to the other, and none can alone be solved without taking account of the others. However, Climate Change is the most urgent and time sensitive issue for action, that, if not resolved threatens to create a plethora problems contributing to global and national insecurity.

In particular, climate change and the global rise in temperature beyond two degrees Celsius threatens to increase species extinction, kill millions of people through flooding, destabilize nations and foster wars between states as states compete for diminishing hydrocarbon resources.

Policymakers need a continuous and evolving understanding of the effects that climate change has on security, but at the same time it is essential to include in any discussion and decision on climate: sustainable development and its relevance to the poorest people in the world. The tripartite synthesis of climate change, security and sustainable development will be the key challenge for future global climate policy and any strategies that are developed must allow for economic development that is environmentally sustainable.

Facing the Problems

The Bali climate talks have failed to deliver the tangible results so many craved – no emissions quotas were set and the promises that were made are devoid of the facts and figures that would make them verifiable. Whilst there were concrete achievements, such as the creation of the Adaptation Fund for example, no serious political capital was expended and, perhaps more importantly, there will be no repercussions for those who fail to push the rhetoric into reality. However, even the weariest pessimist would have to acknowledge the significant step that the Bali talks made, as demonstrated by the agreement to hold global negotiations over the next two years leading to Copenhagen in 2009. We must remember that ‘We are all in the same boat’ when it comes to climate change.

The clear implication of the final Bali Roadmap, most clearly exemplified in its references to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment, is that for the first time there is global agreement that climate change is real, man-made and having an impact on people’s lives. The signs are all around us, from the accelerated rates of deforestation, now accounting for 18-25% of greenhouse gas emissions, to glacial shrinkage and rising global temperatures. Such changes are not only ecological threats; they are real and widespread security threats. Rising temperatures could contribute to the melting of the Tibetan glaciers, potentially leaving 1.5 billion people without water, and rising sea levels could start to submerge parts of Bangladesh and the Maldives among others, leaving countless homeless. The impacts of climate change are not only limited to water shortages and migrations. Population pressures, arable land shortages and changing crop patterns have all contributed to the Economist Food Price Index currently standing at its highest level since 1845. Such shifts have led some to highlight food and water, not oil and gas, as the two most important energy resources in the world. The security elements of climate change include droughts, floods, disease and food security and can be directly linked to border conflict, migration and starvation.

Developed vs. Developing

As shown by national estimates, individual governments are largely aware of these risks and many have made efforts to mitigate them, but the international cooperation and mechanisms required are sadly lacking and must be developed in the run-up to Copenhagen. Breaking the walls of opposition and complacency requires a show of strength from the most vulnerable – the developing world – but they require support. When the representative from Papua New Guinea announced to the attendees at Bali that the US should ‘Get out of the way and leave the rest of us to it’ , the implication was clear – there is an ‘us’, and they are in it together.

If the collective strength of the second and third world, with vocal European support, was one of the most surprising developments at Bali, then the reluctance of the US was perhaps the least. This dynamic between the developed and the developing world became the driving plot behind the story of Bali, with the strong opposition between the US, China and India playing a starring role. As stated by the UN and the Bali Action Plan itself, economic and social development and poverty alleviation in the developing world is an economic and moral imperative, a fact compromised by the US’s insistence that the developing world shares the burden of combating climate change equally. The US, among others, sees China and India in particular, as strategic competitors and vice versa, leading to reluctance on either side to give an inch. This intransigence stretches beyond climate change and must be viewed through the prism of international relations and global governance. Expectations on China and India to make concessions to curb their emissions must be met by concessions in global governance structures, most noticeably, and controversially, in the UN Security Council. The resurrection of the reform debate, following the UN panel report’s publication and its subsequent drop from the public radar may play a key role in the Bali Roadmap’s progress.

The European Union

The rise of India and China is perhaps a competing nexus of power to Europe’s role in the world as a leader, but while Europe is currently not a major player –as it has yet to put its own house in order to create a unified voice to the world– it still has a vital role to play as a torch-bearer, if not yet a consolidated political leader. Europe must address its internal and structural issues while building the will and the means for unified and coherent external policy. Europe must also deliver on its promises, as even it cannot force the world to change, but Europe can show how change can be achieved. Such vision is required now more than ever as Europe is hosting two COPs in succession, giving it more weight than it might otherwise deserve. Firstly, Europe must deliver on promises made to the developing world using development cooperation more strategically to develop its foreign policy framework – a vital long-term requirement for both Europe’s continued influence and the future of the Roadmap. Europe’s promises to increase overall aid and assistance in technology transfers have not lived up to expectations and have led to disillusionment in many developing countries, countries which Europe may come to depend upon more than she realises now.

Secondly, although no global targets were set at Bali, the EU, historically a leading force in climate change debates including Bali, has led the world by example once again and set its own targets. The EU’s common policy calls for a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050, as well as an increase in energy efficiency and the controversial further use of biofuels. These targets however, look increasingly unrealistic as the aim of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 requires a peak in emissions production in 10 to 15 years and a 25-40% reduction in emissions by 2020. The EU-led aim of a two degree Celsius ceiling in global warming also looks to be in jeopardy according to the IPCC’s report. This would require a stabilisation of carbon dioxide levels which are currently 370 parts per millions to between 350 and 400 parts per million, along with the stabilisation of Carbon dioxide equivalent levels, currently at 455 parts per million, to between 445 and 490 parts per million. Though Europe possesses the technological capacity to achieve such goals, finding the necessary political will, investor confidence and agreement on tariffs is likely to prove far trickier. Europe must also invest in its own industries and develop technologies that tackle climate change like carbon capture and solar panels now, rather than allowing America to surge ahead such as it did with CFC remedies. One of the biggest challenges to this task comes from its own industries, both agricultural and industrial. In particular the automotive industry and the varying lobbying power that these groups possess within member countries. Here the European Commission should take prompt and emboldened steps in the European public interest.

desertec1

The DESERTEC-Club of Rome EU-MENA Energy supergrid proposal.

Stumbling Blocks and Solutions

The issue of biofuels was one of the most hotly contested issues at Bali and is likely to remain so for quite some time to come. The European Union’s aim to make 10% of its transport fuel consumption derive from biofuels has received praise, but questions are being raised over both the carbon footprint of ethanol production and the tension between food and energy resources it creates. An SUV with a full tank of Ethanol uses enough maize to feed someone for an entire year. This entails a choice for farmers between food and energy, creating a potential security risk as a result of rising food prices and shortages, with the balance further upset by the EU’s subsidization of ethanol imports from Brazil despite the surplus that currently exists, leading to re-exportation. This situation is also reflected in the United States, where the strength of the ‘CornState’ lobby weighs heavily on government decision making. While it is no secret that domestic industries, including ‘clean’ coal, ‘safe’ nuclear and carbon-capture systems, as well as corn, lobby the government for subsidies in exchange for support, it is short-sighted to pursue technologies that fail the environment. Here Europe once again, has a chance to lead by example again by examining the ramifications of the biofuels issue in greater detail and acknowledging the potentially disastrous implications to the people of the developing world who may be forced to choose between growing food which they cannot afford or food for fuel export to the West. Europe should instead focus on other utility energy supply options such as DESERTEC hydrothermal solar power which would assist in the economic development and improvement of the livelihood for the people of the North Africa / MENA region. As ‘Europe’s solar basin’ the MENA region’s frozen conflicts will require political settlement and stabilisation to serve Europe’s 21st and 22nd century energy requirements and thus contribute to the European aim of the promotion of peace.

The problem of subsidization extends into existing sources of energy and it is vital to recognize the entrenched bias that already exists. The example of Pacific Gas and Electric in California – which enjoys a 110% tax-credit for every dollar invested in conventional power plants – demonstrates that no change can come about without the erosion of existing tax and subsidization structures that disadvantage new technologies. The situation is compounded in the United States as ‘oil’ and ‘coal’ state senators and representatives are pitched against one another in the battle for political support. Consequently, Europe and the business community have an important task in the run-up to the election to influence legislators and get climate change on the US map. Furthermore, the COP at Poznan will coincide with the gap between an election result and the new administration – there has rarely been a better time to exert pressure on the US.

Possible Solutions

The PS10 project, an 11 MW Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant in Seville

The PS10 project, an 11 MW Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant in Seville

Whilst the US has been slow to act at the national-level, some states have grasped the initiative, with California in particular, showing some promising signs. Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature of Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), should lead to mandatory emission caps and the establishment of a carbon trading market in the state. Furthermore, the state has a 20-year history with one of the leading forms of non-fossil fuel energy product – Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). This is a proven, effective solution that can function on a large scale and whilst reliant on direct sunlight, can conserve power and deliver energy at night. After a long period of stagnation due to falling costs of conventional energy sources, the soaring price of oil and gas has made the technology increasingly viable and has received strong corporate backing in the form of Google. Such ‘Big Solar’ technologies represent a fundamental paradigm shift in energy production and when combined with the development of geothermal, hydro, nuclear and cleaner coal power, can have a significant impact on emissions targets. The outline of the DESRTEC Club of Rome proposal involving solar power production in North Africa and parts of the Mediterranean supplying Europe, are a good example of the potential answers to Europe’s future energy requirements. Whilst there are obvious security issues to be considered, the potential for energy cooperation to act as a facilitator for political dialogue is clear and the proposal highlights the importance of streamlining the climate change and energy security debates within foreign policy. There are clearly many other cases where similar forms of cooperation around alternative forms of energy production are possible and hold the potential to foster trans-border relations and regional integration. Organisations like the EU, could provide a carrot in the form of incentives for the creation of cross-border entities to foster such cooperation on a regional or sub-regional basis.

However, such technological solutions only represent one side of the multifaceted approach needed to tackle climate change. Monetary incentives for ‘good behaviour’ are also fundamentally important in the development of a ‘green’ market and carbon trading represents a vital piece of the puzzle, but the present system is faltering. The corporate sector has a vital role to play and carbon credits must be made easier to trade commercially, as well as being better regulated and substantially increasing in value. Until this happens, voluntary systems such as the 500,000 hectare forest sink project in Borneo will play a vital role, but these also must be properly regulated and promoted. Governments must therefore be prepared to step in and shoulder some of the risks, providing corporations with the incentives and security necessary to ensure their participation at the state level and through new and current mechanisms at the supra-national level. Furthermore, the analysis of climate change must be made more accessible to the corporate sector as a whole. While ‘corporate social responsibility’ may be the minimum requirement, reducing the analysis from the macro to the micro-level would help business leaders see the benefits of being involved in such processes.

The PS10 project in operation, Seville

The PS10 project in operation, Seville

Likewise at the macro-level, Bali, Poznan and Copenhagen and the ongoing discussion between and beyond are laying the foundations for a new dimension of issue focused global governance. The challenge for all actors concerned will be whether we will be able to reach consensus through a satisfactory arrangement that both takes the legitimate needs, concerns and aspirations of the developed and developing world into account and whether short term interests can be transcended in the peremptory immediate to long-term interest of humanity and our undeniable responsibility to succeeding generations and to the planet’s ecosystems and habitats of which we are merely the custodians. What is certain is that the negotiations to come will require a patient understanding of all viewpoints, a respect for consensus of opinion, the willingness and ability to compromise for the greater good and the desire to overcome what will no doubt be a challenging and difficult process for all, but one based on the best interest of preserving our planet.

The overriding importance of the long-term interest over that of the short-term was best summed up by Tom Spencer in his following closing remarks to the conference held at the European Parliament:

“I find it bizarre that we are, as a society, prepared to instruct bits of the private sector that they must reduce their production of a dangerous product called cigarettes, yet we are not prepared to say to the oil sector: ‘The use of your product is killing millions of people – we wish to shrink your sector’. Until we face up to that and take it into account, then we are not really going to actually achieve the kind of goals we are talking about.”

There is simply no way that emission quotas can even be considered without fundamental shifts in consumer attitudes and perceptions and those of the major polluters. Whether it be in terms of consumption patterns, regulation, energy conservation, improving travel efficiency or sourcing locally, the individual consumer citizen and the major polluters must actively strive to limit their footprint. The NGO sector and the media have a significant role to play in this by promoting a more efficient way of life that does not rely on hoped for scientific advancements, which no doubt will come, but perhaps too late to pick up the pieces. Action not words are required.

Until decision makers are ready to give a corporeal voice to the spirit of the world’s collective conscience through the establishment of a new forum for inter-civilizational dialogue of peoples at the global level. Namely, a global “Common Assembly” or ‘World Senate’ (based on the 1952 model of the European Parliament)[1] the world will have to make do with ad-hoc issues based forums of global governance. One might add that the melting of the polar ice caps is a damning indictment of the inefficiencies of contemporary governance. Climate change presents not only the greatest and most impending planetary threat, but also the greatest opportunity and reason to establish a new structure of planetary governance.

Finally, it is vital to frame the climate change debate within a security framework and eliminate the barrier between environmental, economic and social issues on the one side, and peace and security and conflict prevention on the other. This requires reorganisation at the r

egulatory and policy level of the state, of the integrated and integrating regions and of the planet, and most importantly the synthesis of climate change and security within foreign policy. Such convergence is already happening within NATO, though not always by design and the military has a central role to play in conflict prevention, border disputes and humanitarian efforts linked to climate change. The military is also a significant political lobby in most countries, particularly the USA and could do more to alert its governments to the security implications of climate change. To do this, agreement on how global insecurity is accentuated by climate change is vital, along with a clear agenda on how this may be tackled. Although the response requires far more than ‘hard security’ responses to tackle climate change is not only a battle; it is as stated by Ban Ki-moon, ‘The defining challenge of our age’.

There is however hope on the horizon, although it is already too late to reverse the immediate effects of current adverse effects of human activity on the world’s climate and the melting of glaciers around the world and the polar icecaps, global policy in the short term will have to mitigate these effects by forward planning for the global security implications, limiting the suffering of affected populations and creating new forums of dialogue to ensure that the impending state based competition over hydrocarbon resources does not lead the world back into an age of war between nations.

The glimmer of hope that does present itself is the capacity of human ingenuity when faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem. We must remember that to date there has not been a war over water since Sumerian times and that when looking at the Middle East and water scarce regions of the world, the fact that water is such a precious resource essential for the survival of life impels states and powers to come to cooperative arrangements rather than fight over them. This offers a potential future of cooperation and dialogue as the hydrocarbon resources deplete.

Likewise the seemingly insurmountable problem of the city wide public health crisis of nineteenth century London was solved by a centralised solution: the construction of a modern city wide sewerage system under centralised authority. The depletion of the Ozone layer that absorbs 97-99% of the sun’s high frequency ultraviolet light that is damaging to life on earth and human DNA was caused by proliferation of Chlorofluorocarbons, (CFCs) finally, after the negotiation of the international treaty: the Montreal Protocol, and enlightened action by the major polluters, CFC production was sharply limited beginning in 1987 and phased out completely by 1996. Today scientists have verified that the Ozone layer is recovering even though it will take a further one hundred years to fully recover from the damage that was wrought.

Although it would not be wise to blindly hope for technological solutions to the climate crisis and the world’s energy needs, it is not idealistic to place hope in the capacity of human ingenuity to develop solutions to problems when faced with a crisis. It is the responsibility of this generation to devise the technological and political solutions that will see humanity and the planet survive the end of the Hydrocarbon age and progress through the next thousand years of history. The challenge for global governance will be to create the structural forums that will allow for the expression of the ideas and the solutions and most importantly for their effective implementation at the global level.

 

Jan Mortier, Civitatis

 

 


[Footnotes]

[1]Like the 1952 European Parliament the ‘Global Common Assembly’ or ‘World Senate’ would have no legislative power, but would be an independent forum to represent peoples at the global level in addition to the existing world powers. However like the European Parliament, the World Senate would overtime, gradually acquire a moral authority and eventually accrue a legislative capacity. Similarly emulating the 1952 European Parliament, the World Senate would be comprised of elected and appointed national parliamentarians, and go further to include former heads of state and government from all the world’s states serving as independent World Senators thus putting to good practical use the wealth of collective experience that currently only finds an outlet in occasional and already established global governance fora.

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Beyond the State: The Sovereign Citizen and the Omega Point of Global Politics. By Jan Mortier

A previous version of this article was first published by Jan Mortier in The Federalist Debate. Year XVI, Number 3, November 2003

There has been a gradual evolution in the history of international society. It has always strived toward the same Omega point. At times this evolution has accelerated at exponential rates caused by epoch changing bifurcation points that redefine and reorder the international system. We are witnessing the most recent reordering of this system at the beginning of the new millennium. The tragic events in New York and Washington (911) have propelled states toward each through a rediscovery of commonality in outlook and shared interest.

With government’s strengthened resolve and the galvanising of the common identity, the evolution of the international system will accelerate as a result. Although not yet entirely apparent, the evolution toward the Omega point of global politics, namely a new world order based on the philosophy of the brotherhood of man and the universality of the fundamental human rights, will be driven ever closer by society’s promotion of universal human rights values if that is the true virtuous purpose of civilisation.

These universal values must form the philosophical basis for a benign global society. Values that industrialised society has derived from the philosophical evolution of natural law and values that other societies also embrace through similarities that prove this universal rights ethic.

For instance murder and deceit are universally accepted as wrong. Likewise charity, honesty, altruism and compassion have a trans-societal universality as being desirable good values. A system of world governance based on a philosophy of the brotherhood of mankind and a universal rights ethic would be a Promethean catalyst that would enlighten citizens within all states and instigate a global renaissance of human rights by welcoming all humans to the Realm of Peace.

A movement for a global realm of rights consciousness would enable every individual to realise that they have rights derived from their personal and individual human sovereignty by way of their very existence as sovereign beings rather than by way of artificial rights conferred upon them by states or powers. Some states have already evolved to derive their just authority from the consent of the sovereign citizen and are coalescing to integrate into an international realm of peace. The question is how to expand and solidify this realm and which states will codify it? Moreover the question remains to be answered as to how to restore virtue to the modus operandi of national governance both in domestic politics and foreign policy.

Sovereignty is a mercurial social construct and has always necessitated some form of legitimation. Today sovereignty and the authority of the state are derived from the two pillars of legitimacy in the international system, the rightful authority to use force internally and the renunciation of using force externally except in self defence. The world mist return to a world of balanced order, respect for mutual coexistence and the protection of fundamental human rights. Sovereignty has become responsible authority and it must return to protecting the sovereign citizen.

However large sectors of the global public are ignorant of the rights that they possess by way of their own inherent individual sovereignty through the deliberative processes of right reason and jurisprudence. They, therefore are in some instances, unaware that their own rights are being abused by their communities in some states as these states attempt to restrict the advance of the globalization process of universal values and the march toward the the realm of peace.

The rise of human security issues and the concern of the global public for human rights protection offer unique opportunities for integrationist organisations to capture the imagination of the global public and argue the case for a system of governance that would protect all people from gross state sanctioned human rights abuses. Initially by regulating states through the rule of legal human rights norms, establishing preventative institutions and if need be enforcing human rights norms militarily where necessary. An empowered independent international peacemaking authority could end all atrocity, and in tandem with an authority responsible for universal jurisdiction could end impunity and ensure that the evil have no refuge.

In this system no state would any longer be able to justify the abuse of their own citizen’s rights as those residing within a particular state territory would be sovereign citizens first and state residents second. The citizenry will come to redefine the way they understand the concept of what it is to be a citizen. It is the task then of the Federalist to redefine the concept of what it means to be a citizen and ignite the spark in the global public of their own emancipation and draft the new international covenant, a new global social contract. In this process the state would be the interim guarantor of the sovereign citizen’s rights until such time as regional devolution and a global representative government is enabled in the form of the International Sovereignty once advocated by Lionel Curtis. A system of world goverance modelled on the European Union with the appropriate separation of powers and multi-dimensional layers of governance.

In today’s international politics a federalist future seems very far away despite encouraging advances like the International Criminal Court and the birth of the European Communites and Union. One could even argue that these last few years we have seen a return to Realpolitik and the resurgence of state power that seems to have stemmed the gradual salience of human rights norms over those of state sovereignty. With security justifiably so high on the agenda one would be forgiven for thinking that a global federation is unrealistic. However if the best way to deal with security threats from non-state actors is to pool our security efforts then wouldn’t this logically entail a pooling of sovereignty?

Indeed, this pooling of sovereignty for security, economic and other reasons is occurring and will continue to do so exponentially in certain regions. These ‘zones of peace’ are regions of cooperative states that do not wage war on each other but rather look for lawful settlement of dispute. They are relatively well integrated through trade while exhibiting shared values and systems of governance. Herein lays the answer to global peace and prosperity and the establishment of the Universal Realm of Peace.

A pooling of sovereignty is necessary with many other issues that affect all states and their citizens that none in isolation can resolve. Issues such as; the environment, resource management, energy production, legislative oversight of corporate governance, world heritage protection, human rights protection, good governance, pollution, disease, poverty, economic growth, wealth creation and even classical security will all require states to pool their sovereignty to deal effectively with these issues or at least manage them more effectively.

For supra-national issues affecting and concerning the global public, the public needs to be co-opted into the integrationist process or current international organisations and those of the future based on state authority of variant legitimacy risk losing the confidence of the global public and in turn the legitimacy derived by its assent.

World unity cannot be sustainably achieved by the current interstate treaty system. Nor can the mere drafting of a constitution as has been tried in the past, achieve this, as it would cause a backlash driven by misconceptions of disenfranchisement by the global public. We need to reroute this discourse and change people’s perceptions of what certain terminology means; sovereignty as responsibility, authority as legitimacy, and community as shared consciousness. Likewise new systems of representation in all international organisations need to be devised that will still allow for an affirmation of state power but also for the representation of the global public that will legitimate the integrationist process. An interim system of integrated and representational global governance needs to be constructed before states ratify a constitution and union. A World Parliament.

Such a system of representation could take the form of a global parliament based on a mathematical representative index that accrues a points value to the power of a state economically at a given time, and likewise accrues a points value to population size of a state of comparable significance. This would produce a system of workable interim global governance that will both address the concerns of the developing world while still providing an incentive to currently powerful states to remain involved. With this World Parliament Index it would be possible for an affluent state to have an equal say and votes in a legislature as that of a populous but poor state. Such a chamber could then elect or by way of ‘aggregate state index value’ appoint states to be the executive of the legislature. This system could be based on the current framework of the UN General Assembly and Security Council and would facilitate further global integration. Developing states within regions that have little or no say in a global legislature or in other International Organizations may see regional political integration with neighbouring states as advantageous to increasing the ‘population points value’ and therefore the ‘aggregate state Index value’ by amalgamating states into regional unions.

Likewise affluent states with small populations may see regional political / economic integration as advantages to increasing combined ‘aggregate Index value’ by amalgamating ‘economic points value’. States holding an even balance of economic points and population points would gain the highest aggregate index value in this system and form the core group of the executive. According to this theory the United States of America, Russia and China should retain the dominant position in the international system and thus their roles as guarantors of the international balance.

This will ensure any governing executive does not become a threat to the established order of the great powers. Such a system of governance based on this Index would keep states onboard in the process of integration while allowing democratization of the international architecture. It would be a large step on the way to the realisation of the Omega point. We are more likely to see regional unions sooner than we are a world federation simply because states in regions comprising comparable trading systems and shared commonalities, human rights values and systems of governance are likely to see the benefits of regional unification before they see those of global unification.

This is not to say global unity is not possible in the foreseeable future. Possible and desirable it is. But rather it will come about as the formation of zones of peace that will enlarge and eventually coalesce to include all likeminded states and encourage others to reform and seek to join in the prosperity and security afforded by thier system of unity. At this point states will be willing to take the next step toward the Omega point and ratify a Treaty of Global Union and a World Constitution. Regional integration projects based on the values of free trade and globalism and governed by the eternal quest for virtue offer the best hope of attaining the Omega Point.

Civilised society and federalists should lead the way and set the standard of this project and continue to advocate the universalism of the individual’s sovereign inviolable rights under a system governed by the rule of law. If this remains the primary purpose of the endeavour then the prospects for the realisation of the Omega point remain bright. For once the International Sovereignty is realised the history of mankind can begin.

Jan Mortier, Civitatis

Notes:

(1.) The Phenomenon of Man (Le Phénomène Humain, 1955) by the paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Turkey and the European Union, a Union of Civilizations? By Jan Mortier

On May 13th 2007, the World Political Forum convened the seminar: Borders: Europe and Turkey at the Turin International Book Fair. Discussants included: Giulietto Chiesa Member of the European Parliament, Bernard Guetta, Journalist, France, Gianni Vernetti, Under-Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs for Italy, Mesut Yilmaz, Former Prime Minister of Turkey, Feridun Zaimoglu, Journalist, Turkey and Vittorio Emanuele Parsi, Professor, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan.

The author took the opportunity to revisit the city of Turin and attend the seminar to observe.

The opinion of this blog post, like that of all others, is solely that of the author and does not purport to represent the views of any aforementioned speaker.

Turkey and the European Union, a Union of Civilizations

By Jan Mortier

The future relationship between Turkey and the European Union has been one of the most controversial themes in the modern history of the European peace system. The potential admission of Turkey and its eighty million Muslim people to our union of five hundred million raises a number of fundamental questions as to the very nature and purpose of the great European work, its future composition, functionality, character, direction and destiny.

Since the early 1960s we have envisaged the potential of the inclusion of Turkey in to the European Union and in 2005 the member states started negotiations with Turkey to that effect, even though these negotiations may take ten to fifteen years due to the required reforms to bring Turkey to a level acceptable to the Copenhagen Criteria, by addressing its social problems and by evolving its legislation. When Turkey does eventually meet the Copenhagen Criteria, the EU member states will be faced with an unavoidable historic choice: to either allow Turkey to join the Union or to turn it away. A decision either way will be irrevocable.

Possible Turkish accession to the European Union must be set in the context of the recent failures to obtain democratic legitimacy for the EU institutional and directional reforms from the people. The rejections of the referendums on the Constitutional Treaty was an expression by the peoples of Europe of their concern at the disconnect between the will of the policymakers and the will of the people. This disconnect in part, had a lot to do with the question of Turkish admission. European public opinion is worried about the entrance of the Turks, about a low-wage job market and about disproportionate job flexibility. Policymakers have a great responsibility in making sure that whatever decision is eventually taken on Turkey’s EU status, that it is one that is based on the needs, interests and security of the Union’s five hundred million citizens as paramount.

Inter-civilizational Questions

In France the debate preceding the rejection of the treaty surrounded such questions as how big must Europe become? How far can it expand geographically, politically and economically? Can Europe really integrate a country as large as Turkey: how many populations and how many cultures must be included in our union?

Even though Turkey has been a good Western country during the Cold War the questions remain: is Turkey European? Is the European Union capable of absorbing eighty million people whose values do not yet correspond to ours? Could the bid for Turkish accession be too premature by decades or a century even? Is Russia not a more European country than Turkey, so should we not bring the Russians in before the Turks? Could the Turkish bid be a wholly unrealistic bid considering the historical acrimonious relationship of Christendom and Islam?

We know that Turkey has a population that is 99 per cent Muslim, so we know their values, but if Europe is a post-Christendom, enlightenment project, should we not properly define our own values first, lest we have others defining them for us, or is it best to continue without doing so and instead adhering to functionalism so as to be sure to never exclude the hopes of the external one day becoming the internal?

Earliest printed example of a classical T and O map (by Guntherus Ziner, Augsburg, 1472)

Earliest printed example of a classical T and O map (by Guntherus Ziner, Augsburg, 1472)

Is Europe the intellectual heir of Christendom or of the Enlightenment or both? And if it is the heir to one or a fusion of both, can the EU really absorb eighty million Muslims? Do the peoples of Europe want their elites to do this on their behalf; was this not a reason for the rejection of the Constitutional and Lisbon treaties? Do we want a European Union that borders Iran, Iraq and Syria, and will it ever be possible for them to accede or stabilize? Is our normative value of the freedom of movement of peoples within the Union applicable and suited also to the implications arising from Turkish accession?

Would Turkey’s accession open the door to an influx into Europe of the poor and huddled masses of the Middle East? Will we have a more secure European Union or a more insecure European Union after a Turkish accession? 

What is the current example of integration and assimilation of Muslims that we already have within Europe? Do Muslims consider themselves as European or as a separate internal civilization benefiting from our hospitality? How well or not, have the current examples of integration faired and to what extent can the already existing internal models be extrapolated and multiplied to model scenarios for potential futures?

Lastly, should we allow the politics of the present, ourselves and inter-civilizational relations to be defined by our historical past and the politics of our ancestors or do we wish to stand on fresh newly tilled ground and strive to look toward a future that is not preordained and a vista of infinite possibilities?

The New European Diplomacy

To decide where we want to go, we have to understand where we have come from. The European Union is as an evolving ever-changing multidimensional metaphysical construct. Europa was incarnated by the European Economic Community in order to stabilize the Franco-German border, to transform a bloody border into something completely different. War and nationalism have been the scourge of Europe and have killed: 184,000 people in the Franco Prussian war, 9 million in the First World War and 40 million in the Second World War. Our systems that were based on nationalism, states and war nearly destroyed European civilization, ravaged our markets and our people and have sucked the rest of the world into our tribal and territorial conflicts. With such destruction it was clear that the old European system was inadequate and that it would only be a matter of time before history would be repeated and with new technology that guaranteed an unimaginable scale of destruction. So a new system based on peace and supranationalism was envisaged and the institutions of Europe were created to put an end to war and herald a new age of peace and prosperity for our people.

In 1957, with the signing of the treaties on the European Economic Community (EEC) and on EURATOM, it was still not possible to foresee in which direction Europe would develop, yet the guiding ethos was always there: world peace. The preamble of the EEC says that Europe should “ensure harmonious development by reducing the differences existing between the various regions and the backwardness of the less-favoured regions”. The intention to let all levels, including the masses, take part in the economic growth of the EEC was the foundation of the rapid development of Europe.

Today no Frenchman regards a German like the French intellectuals used to view their German counterparts in the nineteen twenties and vice-versa. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification Europe reinvented itself and won a great victory in demonstrating that Europe again was a profoundly effective force for stabilization. This was possible because enlargement corresponded to the strategic aim of the need to stabilize central Europe. German reunification was therefore an internal border issue, not an external one. So in looking at Turkey perhaps we should consider it as an internal border issue rather than an external one?

The Founding Fathers of Europe had been very wise in not proclaiming the limits of the European Community neither towards the east nor towards the west. The borderlines of the member states and thus the Union were lines appropriate for the political and economic moment. Europe was and is an evolving and unfolding process of creation, a work in progress. The European Community demonstrated its strength in the conviction that the division of its resources would, at the same time, bring a growth of the resources themselves. In this way Portugal, Spain and Greece had the opportunity that allowed them to recover much faster from the aftermath of their dictatorships. Europe extended exactly the same function to the eastern states that were unshackled from communism – only as a result of this was a growing atmosphere of steady enthusiasm and peace created between Latvia and Hungary.

Borders are inventions and, just like all human inventions, they are extremely real and produce many more consequences than natural things do. Do we want to put a border on the past or on the future? Do we want to close the door to the future, considering the relationship between Turkey and Europe during the past centuries? Do we wish to remain in the mindset of defining what Europe is according to its past and what Turkey is according to its past?

Or instead, do we want to be open to the future and to try to understand what Europe is according to what it can become and what Turkey is according to what it can become? Furthermore, what would the world be like if in relations between civilizations and states, diplomacy could genuinely put aside historical animosity and cultural memory and focus purely on the issues at hand with a view to working toward attaining an improved future for all? This surely is the example of the new European diplomacy and the new post-modern European multilateralism and an example that the world can learn from.

From the Atlantic to the Riphean Mountains, the Home of the European Spirit

St Istvan I Church, Budapest. Former frontline between Christendom & Islam.

St Stephen I Church, Budapest. Former frontline between Christendom & Islam. (Photo taken by author 2007)

Charles de Gaulle once spoke of a Europe as a continent that stretched “from the Atlantic to the Urals”. Geographically, one may observe where the true borders of the continent of Europe lie, not of the Union, but of the landmass, the natural borders of the continent excepting the North Pole, are the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The question then arises about whether the Eastern geographical border of Europe is in fact the Urals, known as the Riphean Mountains in Greco-Roman antiquity, or indeed the Pacific Ocean, assuming that Siberia will remain Russian and that Russia is a country desirent of one day returning to its common European political home.

It was Valery Giscard d’Estaing who once said that “Turkey does not correspond to the European Spirit” much like Charles de Gaulle said when vetoing Britain’s application to join the European Community in 1967: Britain “is not a European country”. Charles de Gaulle was no lover of supranationalism nor a loyalist to his British liberators. His political vision failed to transcend the short term national interest and look to the longer term enlightened interest of the bigger picture. His second veto was inflicted at a unique British political moment: Harold Wilson had the support of British public opinion, his Cabinet in government and of the three main political parties in Parliament. The damage that was wrought by de Gaulle’s two vetoes for Britain’s two applications to join the European Community was, according to Sir Steven Wall; “a huge national humiliation.” The opportunity to welcome an enthusiastic Britain to the European Community was squandered, and the humiliating rejection turned the people of Britain away from the big European idea, the repercussions of which are still evident in the British public mind today towards Europe and are likely to remain for some time, unless the parliamentarians muster the backbone to have a real conversation with the people about the European Union.

If Turkey is now experiencing a British 1966 moment of public hope and warmth toward the European idea, what will be the future implications of EU –Turkish and Western-Muslim relations of turning away eighty million hopeful Turks from the world’s most significant political peace project?

If Valery Giscard d’Estaing is correct about Turkey not corresponding to the European spirit, then we must look to where this ‘European Spirit’ originates. The philosopher Remi Brague said that “Europe was built on something that was already there”, Assuming that ancient Greece is the intellectual and spiritual root of European Civilization, then the European character of Turkey is confirmed as the personifications of the educated sprit: Democritus, Diogenes, Hereclitus and Taletes, were all born in the territory of Asia Minor which is today part of Turkey. Even in considering Europe’s heritage as that being derived from Christendom, we must acknowledge that it was the mediation of Anatolia that allowed the Christian religion to spread westward to the land that is now the territory of the European Union.

Cold Turkey, Western or European?

Turkey was a good Western country during the Cold War and stood on the frontlines of freedom against communism. The Turkish role in the defence of freedom is acknowledged in the annals of history and the West will always be thankful to Turkey and considers Turkey as one of its own. Turkey has become increasingly integrated with the West through membership in organisations such as the Council of Europe (1949), NATO (1952), OECD (1961), OSCE (1973) and the G20 industrial nations (1999). Turkey began full membership negotiations with the European Union in 2005, having been an associate member since 1963, and having reached a customs union agreement in 1995.

The reason for this decision in the 1960s even before Europeans had begun to discuss this with Turkey was because of Turkey’s status in the Atlantic alliance. It is of great political importance that Turkey is a NATO ally, a military political alliance that has been transformed from its Cold War function into stabilizing crisis regions and increasingly becoming the armed wing of the United Nations, now able to realise UN resolutions as in the case of Afghanistan.

Geographically Turkey is not an Atlantic country, so the term Atlantic must be understood in the context of “Atlantic values”, a common value system of the western democracies united against the Soviet Union. Thus Atlantic values transcended Atlantic geography. Post Cold War there is no ideological conflict with a soviet bloc, but there is a virtual schism between the West and fundamentalist Islam, and Turkey will most likely be the crucible where the future relations of the Western and Islamic civilizations are determined.

The question then arises is there a compatibility between Islam and universal values propounded by the West? It would be a mistake of historical proportions were we Europeans as defenders of universal norms to believe that there is no compatibility between Islam and our values, by rejecting Turkey because it is a Muslim state. This would do irreparable damage in the eyes of Muslims the world over for centuries to come and create a global fault line between two great civilizations.

America is a strong supporter of Turkish accession to the European Union, not least for Turkey’s role during the Cold War. But the question of potential Turkish accession is one that should be decided and negotiated by Europeans alone, as this momentous decision, either way, will permanently affect the future of Europe, and will be irrevocable. Europe has a common heritage with the USA, having been the parent of the American civilization and being helped by its child in the rebuilding of post WWII Europe. But Europe needs to ask: Does US support for Turkish accession to the EU stem from a genuine enthusiasm to see Europa expand her realm of peace and take her rightful seat at the world table to guide human civilization to a more enlightened state of reason and common destiny? Or, is it based on using the EU as a subservient tool of US foreign policy that might create a divided Europe? From a country that allowed Donald Rumsfeld to attempt to divide through discourse a loyal Europe that had invoked Article V of the NATO Treaty to help the USA, into ‘Old’ and ‘New Europe’ should we Europeans ponder a scenario in which Turkish accession to the EU might cause such fundamental internal problems and divisions for Europe that she might be prevented from looking out to the world stage by being constantly preoccupied with the internal and, thereby not being ever able to challenge the other world powers? Moreover, why should not Europe one day be in a position to challenge any world power? Europe is, after all the leading model for peace.

Whatever the answer, it is clear that the decision to either integrate Turkey into the European Union or not, is a question for the Europeans and Turkey alone to negotiate and decide.

From the External to the Internal – Europa’s Post-modern Path to Peace

The attempt to impose democracy on Iraq has resulted in conflagration, over 600, 000 people killed, the destabilisation of the global order, a new global political crisis and arms racing by insecure states exceeding even the levels of expenditure at the height of the Cold War.

Europe can offer the world a better model and one that works. True and sustainabldevelopment can only be achieved through the Venusian post-modern European method based on dialogue, inclusion and peaceful co-existence, not through a primitive mindset that advocates only the use of force. It is because the European Union is not a state that it is able to promote democracy through its post-modern multilayered complex constructs. The EU sets such a good working example of a working peace system that others are willing to totally change their societies and legal systems to come up to par with ours through emulation, and thereby qualify for accession to the EU.

This revolutionary post-modern way of change through emulation is impossible for America to do, as America is a state that has become an empire. It is therefore tethered to statist and imperial structures and thinking. The paradox is that because America is a state empire it is only able to govern in a statist imperial way that necessitates the preservation of its power and its state. This explains why the American model of exporting democracy in its neighbourhood and around the world is neither workable nor permanent. America is unable to evolve to the post-modern system.

The EU method however, offers a new workable ideal for others to aspire to, and creates a gravitational well, where states and peoples are freely drawn to become like us and unite with us. The external thus wills itself to become the internal, so that the internal continuously expands to include the external, by no other force except desire. Europa thus offers the possibility of an infinite internal dimension and the universal end of the external. It is no wonder that the emerging multipolarities of the world are turning away from the American model and looking toward the European post-modern model, with the hope of one day becoming our internal.

From the Ottomans to Atatürk and Today

Turkey is our external, but is increasingly becoming our internal. Since the mid-nineteenth century yearnings of the Ottoman Empire towards Europe, to be integrated into Europe and to incorporate European values, to Mustafa Kemel (Atatürk)’s revolution and the end of the Ottoman Empire, post war Turkey and the Turkey of the last fifteen years have not diminished the will of the Turkish mind to be European.

The Battle of Mohacs (1526) by Bertalan Székely. The Ottoman conquest of Hungary.

The Battle of Mohacs (1526) by Bertalan Székely. The Ottoman conquest of Hungary.

During the nineteenth century when the great European nations spent their time making war on each other, Turkey was then known as the “sick man of Europe”, not of Asia. Turkey at that time, was synonymous with the Ottoman Empire. An empire that stretched from Central Asia to Algeria and which included Tunisia, Egypt and the whole of the near-east region.

In the XIX century and in the 1856 Paris Treaty, the Ottoman king was explicitly acknowledged as a European superpower and moreover had the legal duty to protect his Christian subjects. Following in a similar normative vein Turkey was also one of the first countries to join the European Convention on Human Rights.

Modern Turkey is the country which was born in 1923 with Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk)’s Republic. It is a civic, unitary and secular state. Being Turkish after Atatürk’s Republic means believing in the political project of Atatürk; it does not mean being born in Anatolia, being Muslim or being heirs of the Ottoman Empire. Atatürk dissolved the Caliphate and by giving Turkey secular institutions, he broke with the past to open the way to the modern Turkey.

Within Turkish political life there have been a number of positive developments. Over the last few years, there has been great progress in the field of human rights and democracy. There has been adherence to the Copenhagen Criteria – the European standards of political, civil an market freedoms, a fundamental requirement in order to continue dialogue with the EU. Turkey has abolished capital punishment, initiated a stronger control of the power of the army, and radically modified the rights of the Kurdish people.

A recent visit to Italy by the President of Iraq, the Leader of the Iraqi Kurds and the President of the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, confirmed the improvement of relations between the Kurdish nation and Turkey, which is indicative of Turkey’s overwhelming desire to be integrated completely into Europe.

Money

The juridical and technical adaptations to the European common market has cost Turkey fifty milliard euro while the financial support that was promised from Brussels was reduced to one eighth of what was originally promised. Half of all Turkish foreign commerce is with EU states; the Turkish public’s purchasing power has at its disposal more than thirty milliard euro per year. The medium economic growth of Turkey is also 8 per cent, surpassing many EU states, although forecast by the World Bank to decline. Turkey’s population of eight million has a 10.3 per cent rate of unemployment.

People

A poll within Turkey ten days before the World Political Forum seminar, said that 80 per cent of Turkish people interviewed in that poll believed that entrance into the European Union is of fundamental importance to their country, 75 per cent felt that the EU is a model project of civilization, and 75 per cent feel that democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and the market economy is the path that the country should follow.

According to a 2008 report prepared for the National Security Council of Turkey by academics of three Turkish universities in eastern Anatolia, Turkey’s population includes: approximately 50 to 55 million ethnic Turks, 12,5 million Kurds (including 3 million Zazas), 2,5 million Circassians (Adige), 2 million Bosniaks, 1,3 million Albanians, 1 million Georgians, 870,000 Arabs, 700,000 Roma, 600,000 Pomaks, 80,000 Laz, 60,000 Armenians, 20,000 Jews, 15,000 Greeks and 13,000 Hemshins living in Turkey. Nominally, 99 per cent of the Turkish population is Muslim of whom over 75 per cent belong to the Sunni branch of Islam and 20 per cent to the Shi’a Alevi branch.

Secularism

According to Wikipedia, there is a strong tradition of secularism in Turkey, which is essentially similar to the French model of laïcité. The state has no official religion nor promotes any, and actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitution recognises the freedom of religion for individuals, whereas religious communities are placed under the protection of the state; but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party, for instance) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious head cover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities; this law was upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as “legitimate” in the Leyla Şahin v. Turkey case on November 10, 2005.

Military and Civil Power

Since Atatürk’s revolution, the Turkish system has been upheld by two pillars: institutional secularism and the role of the armed forces. Today these pillars are threatened by two phenomena that are external to the internal Turkish political culture. One is radical Islamism that menaces institutional secularism. The other pillar is the prospect of entering the European Union, which threatens the role of the army because one of the basic principles of democracy is that the civil power has control and oversight of the military power.

It is inconceivable that a member state of the European Union should have a military power greater than the civil power. Yet it may be that the current secular nature of Turkey is being preserved only by the power of the military (one million men at arms) that threatens to remove any radical religious government, or one that does not conform to the military’s interpretation of Atatürk’s secular principles. If the power of the Turkish military is to become properly subservient to the civil power as is a requirement of European norms, than we may risk the rise of a radical Islamist state within the European Union. We may suppose that Turkey, like the former Soviet Union and the Former Yugoslavia is merely a structure of force that suppresses frozen conflicts and tension that will inevitably unravel and explode.

It would be safest for all were Turkey to undergo its total societal change and then co-exist with the EU through a period of prolonged and proven stability to see if secularism holds before EU accession. For as to allow either a Turkey governed by the military or a Turkey governed by radical Islamic parties to enter or exist within the European Union would be contrary to all our fundamental principles, norms and values. Turkey should not also falsely hope that joining the European Union will be a panacea for its radical Islamist problem. Secularism and the means or will to preserve it, or not, is not a question for the EU to ordain, it is one that the Turkish people must decide.

With this in mind the sophisticated experimental attempt of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abdullah Gül in imposing ‘a moderate Islam’ on the country, emulating the previous Italian model of a ‘Christian Democracy’ as a means to propose some values in politics by which to transcend the authoritarian secularism and avoid the fundamentalism. Is a positive step on the right direction and should be encouraged by the European Union.

If the Turkish Muslim moderates are genuinely moderate and the secularisation process is positive, we would have for the first time the possibility of building an international coalition of the moderate Islamic parties within the European Union – just like the socialist or the popular ones – and it would have a positive influence on the moderate Islamic parties that, step by step, will probably rise in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.

EU Expansion and Contraction: Europa Breathing

The author recalls a seminar on Europe at a bank in Germany where the chairman of the bank called for a respite in the expansion of Europe so that Europe “could be consolidated”. Such a process might be likened to the natural breathing of the lungs, or beating of the heart, where each time Europe expands she must then afterward, look inward to consolidate before taking the next breath to expand once again. When looking at the long term future of Europe, the rejections of the Constitutional and Lisbon Treaties are not of that great a concern. True, there are urgent internal functional matters that need addressing, – not least the strata needed to deal with climate change – and some institutional functionalities that need modernising for a Europe of twenty-seven. But most of these could be implemented if agreed at the Ministerial level, in single issue based agreements, the institutional dressing and peacocking of Europe is not so important as the quality of her work. A Europe that now looks like it is not to expand again for some time may be a good thing.

Europa must take a breath between expansions, she must consolidate her realm, there is much work to be done in addressing the poverty within the European Union and building proper bridges between the people – both horizontally and vertically – that are at present quite tenuous, before racing ahead to include others still, who will no doubt come to Europa’s Common European House in good time, one day. But patience and faith in time, as well as a period of self-introspection and self-improvement not only for Europa, but for those wishing to suckle from her breast, might also prove a virtuous respite during the great exhalation that will ultimately produce a fresher air from which all can breathe.

The Future: Turkey a Mediator between Civilizations?

It is the authors conjecture that a new thinking is required in the question of Turkish accession to the EU, as this is more than an issue of just economics, intergovernmental relations and peoples. It is a question of the most historic proportions, the peaceful and permanent integration of two of the world’s great civilizations into one new civilization that has the potential to alter the course of world history for the greater good. If the European Union is among other things, a regional security community, and if expanding the Union to include Turkey would create European borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria, then Turkey will become either the crucible or the fault line of the two civilizations, moreso than it is today where it serves as a secularist buffer, keeping chaos at bay from our Union. If we do not want to draw the next border of the European Civilization through Rumelia or the Bosphorus but wish to extend it to include Mount Ararat and edge closer to Jerusalem, does that mean that there forever our borders must fall, for to internalize the conflicts of the Middle East may be too much for Europa, even with all her benign generosity, to absorb? Or, should we prepare for an even grander and bolder vision of the future, that of bringing Monnet’s vision of peace to our neighbours in the Middle East?

Does the answer then lie in creating a grand security community for the Middle East, a Middle Eastern Security Community (MESC), with a Single Currency, a Parliamentary Assembly, a Commission for policy, and a Council for states? Turkey has played a significant role in the NATO-Euro Mediterranean partnership with Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Israel, Mauritania and Jordan which demonstrates the positive results of adherence to the values of the European Union and the leading role Turkey can play in the region and in a future Middle Eastern Security Community. Turkey would be a full member of a MESC and continue in its 1963 associated membership of the European Union, but with increased privileges and trade freedoms with the EU.

Turkey would become the grand mediator between the two civilizations, with a new supranational institution like the Council of Europe composed of parliamentarians and representatives from Europe and the Middle East established on its territory, the conjunction also of the great continents, that would fulfil a role in facilitating dialogue between and the bringing together of the two civilizations, establishing a permanent seat for the discourse between the peoples of Europe and of the Middle East, to promote human rights, peace and the rule of law.

The Turkish and European political projects

If we set out from the assumption that Turkey is a political project, just like the European Union is, logically then, the difficulties that we face now do not come from cultural or religious questions, but from a very precise question: How can Turkey’s political project enter into the European political project? How can the new Turkey become a European civic nation, just like Portugal or Greece did?

In making this small cognitive leap, we realise that the ideas we have on what Turkey is and what Europe is are misconceptions. The European Union is a civic nation at least at the organisational level. We belong to the European Union as a political body, just as much as the Romans belonged to Rome. It is a political choice, not a biological or cultural question.

Nicolas Sarkozy’s opinion and comments with regard to Turkey being an “Asian country and not European” are unhelpful and are damaging the bonds between Turkey and the European Union and consequentially: Islam and the West. His recent alterations to the French constitution, requiring a French parliamentary majority for approval of new accession states to the European Union might also be interpreted as a further attempt to thwart future Turkish accession.

Fear blinds people to nuances and differences. And the fear of Islam should not blind us to the intricacies of the historical implications that a decision either way to accession will entail for the future of the Union and indeed, the new world civilization. We must remember that Turkey is not an Arab country, its relations with the Arab world are defined by its history of colonial domination of the Arabs for a century and there is deep resentment and distrust between Arab-Turkish relations. Turkey has also been an officially secular country for nearly ninety years.

Perhaps our relations with Turkey are also blinded by our own insecurities, those with regard to global Islam and the challenge it presents to us, to our internal insecurities: Namely, that of how are we going to govern ourselves in our Union and our planet: are we going to govern ourselves supranationally, in constructs and complex multidimensional dynamics yet to emerge, or are we going to remain with the nation state method which the people are still quite psychologically attached too? Perhaps our hardening toward Turkey is that we fear newcomers, as newcomers force us to look closely at ourselves and examine our own faults as we react to them.

We should continue to lay the foundation for cooperative and integrative mechanisms with Turkey that will prevent us from once again shutting out Turkey. We must continue the work to harmonize the European and Turkish political projects. We must remember that the reason that Turkey is reforming and improving is the prospect (held out by us) of eventual EU accession, so we must ask ourselves what possible interest we might have in slapping the face of the Turkish people and humiliating them as de Gaulle did to Britain when all that Turkey is asking from us is that our values may also become theirs?

Conclusion: A Union of Two Civilizations of Global Consequence?

If we look at the European Union as a functional project, the aim of which, is to promote stability and peace and remove the clouded spectacles of inter-civilizational distinctions along the lines of religion and race and accept people as equal worth the world over, then observing the reverse outcome of the so called ‘clash of civilizations’, a permanent union between the Western and Islamic civilizations through Turkish accession to the European Union would be: potentially all Muslims the world over looking to the example of a prosperous and peaceful democratic Muslim state that has been welcomed and accepted into the bosom of the most advanced and enlightened working peace system in the world, the European Union.

The advantages of a decision to welcome Turkey would be avoiding giving the impression that Europe is a white Christian fortress, demonstrating that a real multicultural civilization exists within our Union, which is founded on common political values. Having a Turkey that accepts these political points – a Turkey which is secular but also democratic – would be an advantage for us.

We must never forget that borders – no matter how mechanised and technically controlled they may be – become permeable. Hiding behind them to enjoy in solitude the comfort and security from others is not a good position. Sooner or later Europe will have to make up its mind and use part of its wealth for building and sustaining areas of steady peace beyond its borders. Only in this way will Europa succeed in developing herself further and steadily in the future.

One might argue that it is in our interest to answer Turkish expectations, to deny to the Islamists the wood for their fire of hate, and to transform Turkey into a beacon for democratic and liberal values by transcending the mindset that chooses to perceive religious borders and clashes of civilizations. It would prove to the Islamists that they are not right, that the rule of just law and values are universal and can transcend religious difference.

The implications for such an epoch altering historical event are clear; this union of civilizations would chart a new course for world history and would alter the mindset of the Ummah that so far sees the West as the enemy. The thought would be seeded in billions of Muslim minds that perhaps they too can one day live in peace as we do in the West as they look to a European Union that includes Turkey, a West that includes Islam not as a minority population but as a member state, as the example of the possibility for the benevolence of governance and the unassailable virtue of Europa who extends the hand of peace and promise of prosperity to those who join with her in her historic world destiny in the pursuit of ever growing peace.

Jan Mortier, Civitatis