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Monday, February 7, 2011

Egemen Bağış's decidedly unhelpful remarks

It's election season in Turkey, and it is perhaps this we see in some recent statements by leaders from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Their rhetoric on the stalled EU negotiations has been turned up quite a few notches. I have previously commented on Prime Minister Erdoğan's feisty Op. Ed. in Newsweek as well as his deputy Ali Babacan's warning that the EU is turning into a Christian club.

The location of Mr. Bağış's speech: Auschwitz.
The most recent addition to the AKP chorus of frustration is a speech by Turkey's EU minister and top negotiator, Egemen Bağış, given during a commemorative visit to Auschwitz last week. Bağış took the occasion to expand on his colleagues’ criticism against what they perceive as the increasingly parochial attitudes within several EU countries toward enlargement and their respective Turkish minorities.

One can think of few better places to raise the topic of the dangers of European parochialism, and the EU minister went on to emphasize the important point that
we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism and racism in any form.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bağış did not end his remarks there, but went on to offer an analysis of the growing presence of racism in today's Europe by reference to the continent's dark past:
It is unfortunate that the EU, founded in order to eliminate the threats of that period to peace, is today under the risk of conquest by a racist mentality that cannot internalize its own values and emulates the fascist methods of 1930s.
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