Chomsky: "Racism is behind EU resistance to Turkey"
The key reason for European Union resistance to Turkey's membership bid is racism, said US linguist and political scientist Noam Chomsky over the weekend. Citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent statement that German culture is based on Christian and Jewish values and Muslims in the country should accept this, Chomsky called it "a pretty extreme and racist statement from a major political figure in Europe." According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, Germany is only one of the European countries where one can see a "right-wing backlash against Muslim immigrants," and he called racism "the background reason why Turkey is unlikely to be accepted into the EU, even if it meets all the human rights standards." According to Chomsky, who arrived in Istanbul on Friday to attend an international gathering on freedom of expression, the European Court of Human Rights is justified in insisting on better Turkish compliance with human rights standards, yet there are worse violators among EU countries, such as Britain, which participated in the invasion of Iraq. "Has Turkey done anything like that?" he asked. "On the contrary, it refused to participate in the invasion. That's a much higher level of observance of human rights and even international law." According to Chomsky, the stalemate in Turkey's EU membership bid is one of the tensions hampering the reconciliatory role that Ankara wants to play between the Middle East and the West. "Turkey is trying to play an intermediary role between Europe and the Middle East, which is a good position to maintain, but it's difficult. And it's particularly difficult because the US wants to make sure that it remains difficult," he said, citing as an example the US reaction to a compromise deal on Iran's nuclear enrichment brokered by Turkey and Brazil, after which the US obtained more sanctions at the UN Security Council against Iran. "Turkey is playing its role in this (issue) in a very crucial region (the Mideast), which has the world's major energy resources," he said. "I think Turkey can proceed on a path that is constructive and helpful for reconciliation, remedying some of the many internal problems of the region. It's not easy, but is possible." On the May 31 Israeli raid on an aid flotilla which killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American, Chomsky said, "This is clearly a serious criminal attack," adding, "It is hijacking in international waters and there were quite brutal murders."