While the European Union falls... - ÖZLEM ALBAYRAK

While the European Union falls...

As I write this article today, the United Kingdom (UK) went to referendum to vote to stay in or exit the European Union (EU). No matter what the result (even if the UK, which has no land border with Europe and has not accepted the currency stays or leaves), faith in the EU will continue to decline.

This means Turkey might not have to wait until the year 3000, which UK Prime Minister David Cameron projected was when Turkey would enter the EU. In other words, the EU most probably will not make it to the next millennium and instead might only last a few decades.

It has not even been 30 years since the Union was established and the Euro has only been in use for 15 to 16 years. At the point we have reached, it seems that irreparable cracks have formed in the Union. We have not forgotten the attitude they adopted against Greece, a country that has been treated as if it were the soul of and a gift to Europe. At this point, whatever the result of the referendum, the opposition within the EU will start to activate.

I believe one of the most important things that caused the EU to start cracking is the economic disparity among the member countries. Even if the EU provides security to the more disadvantaged countries, the fact that the richer countries provide unreturned financial aid to the disadvantaged countries engenders resentment in the public opinion of these richer countries.

Therefore, the EU which was initially founded to stand against fascism and the notion of nation-states, actually ends up producing more fascism and discrimination than democracy. The reality of disadvantaged refugees swarming into Europe obviously has exacerbated this discrimination. Islamophobia, which has increased drastically in recent years, is also an effective factor.

But the reality does not change just because this is the case: The EU has transformed from a global and democratic structure to a more introvert and fascistic one.

I had previously stated in an article I wrote on Greece that the idea of a European union was shaped with geographic as well as religious foundations. The economic differences among the countries were overlooked and they actually thought that the more powerful countries would overlook the poorer ones. Yet, after the 2008 crisis they realized that this was not the case. As a matter of fact, the EU met its need from being an attempt to overcome the nation-state model. However, things took a 360-degree turn: Member countries started to make comments such as, “Why do we have to open our border to refugees? and “Why do we have to conform to laws made by Brussels?”

The European Union idea was born in the second half of the 20th century as an alternative to nation-state/racist/nationalist ideas, since they were perceived as contagious. Neither the city-states from the ancient periods nor the empire models from the medieval period meet the requirements of our age. Yes, there were supra-national structures like the United Nations (UN) that were not confined to a certain geography. But the UN became a structure that enabled the world powers to roam around easily and also cover up the inequalities they caused.

Therefore, the fact that the EU was a supra-national model was exciting for nearby countries like us. Yet, Europe chose religion as a common denominator besides geography, which then led to discrimination within and beyond its boundaries. As the refugees wanted to enter Europe, Islamophobia, discrimination and fascism increased. Which then meant that a Muslim country like Turkey was not allowed entry into the EU.

However, the EU had started to overcome the disadvantages a nation-state would create. It could not succeed in a mutual ideal or overcome these disadvantages. This created antagonism toward refugees and foreigners. While traveling from one EU country to another was easy and visa-free for citizens of member countries, visa requirements hindered the “foreigners.”

In conclusion, the idea of an EU, that came about after the French Revolution's “nation-state” idea, was not successful in overcoming a nation-state model.

No matter how the referendum concludes, it is clear that the result will encourage those member countries that oppose solidarity.


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