Saturday, August 9, 2008

Amsterdam bi-lingual?

According Jan Paternotte, member of the Amsterdam city council representing D66, next to Dutch the English language must be the second official language of the city of Amsterdam thus Amsterdam must become bi-lingual.
More than 10% of the people speak only English, which is not a problem in shops and restaurants.
The Netherlands has two official languages already: Dutch and West Frisian.
Personally I think it will be a good idea to introduce in business hubs such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague English as a second official language.

Turkey is confused

When people in Turkey are accusing the EU to be a Christian club I can reply on two ways: why not? Turkey and its OIC is an Islamic club. Or I can be more direct: 'you're nuts', European Muslims already outnumber the Dutch. And nobody doubt that predominantly Muslim Albania and Bosnia might one day be members of the EU. They clearly reside inside Europe's "borders". Europe's history and identity has included Islam for hundreds of years.

More important for me is: Europe is an association of free people, with a common identity shaped by the principles of a liberal democracy. As an EU member, Turkey would help Europe fulfill its own promise. And Europe would continue to be democratic, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic as it always was and will be.
But Turkey is not a country of free people with a liberal democracy, and an open economy. There is not even freedom of religion!
So, when Turks are accusing me that the EU is a Christian club, they must first learn what Europe is and where the EU stands for. Not what it can grant them but they have to adapt first to the EU standards on all segments of the open society.
It became clear the last year that the former President of Turkey, the staunch secular Sezer, vetoed almost every reform to regulate the Turkish system according EU standards away - even the law on the Ombudsman was not good enough for Sezer.
At the same time the Turkish seculars thinks that their world view of statism, nationalism, militarism etc. is something what the Europeans longs for...forget it! They are confused.

But there is another argument to be carefully with a Turkey into the EU: Turkey might be ready for the EU, but the EU is not ready for Turkey. With 70 million Turks, the EU would collapse under a severe case of system overload if Turkey joined.
The lessons of Greek, Portuguese, and Irish accession do not apply today. With its system of redistribution of wealth via structural funds and market access, the EU helped these countries to modernize rapidly in the past. But the countries were small and had small economies. Meanwhile, the European Community at the time enjoyed enormous growth rates. Taking on the extra load of integrating the small new members didn't pose a problem. The governing mechanisms of the Community worked. None of that is true today. The EU had promised to reform its governing structure before it would accept new members from Central and Eastern Europe. It hasn't happened. Nevertheless, 12 mainly Central and Eastern European countries joined the last years, creating huge migrant, economical and social problems.

Next to that, if Turkey join the EU it will import instability instead of exporting stability. And what about the powerful role of the Turkish military, Turkish most prestigious institute.
I remember the many voices who simple said: 'we don't want Turkish generals in European politics'. As we can see today, the Turkish military has an enormous impact on Turkish politics, on the Cyprus issue and Turkish international relations. That Turkey choose this system is their good right, but it goes in against the Copenhagen Criteria and the mindset of the Europeans who or suffered under the nationalism of Nazi Germany or under the tyranny of Soviet Russia.
Ask people on the street in Prague or Budapest about the repressed uprisings in respectively 1968 and 1956. The EU is above all a non-nationalistic movement, and that is what Turkey, which is ultra-nationalist by standard.

So when Turks are telling that the EU is a Christian club, they simple don't understand where the EU stands for; its principles, norm, values and limits.
And Turkey didn't learn from their aggresive oliphant tactics of the last 3 years: with each attemp to get a feet between the door, more windows are closed. Yes, Turkey is confused about the multi cultural and multi ethnic Europe and its EU.

Day opening - August 9

Entrance National Gallery, Sofia, Bulgaria