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Is Turkey European? Will Turkey be accepted as part of the European Union? This question, which has been lingering for a good twenty (if not fifty) years, gets very little attention outside of Turkey and to a much lesser extent in western Europe. Yet, it is one of the more important geopolitical issues of the coming decades. An intelligent answer to this question has to start in the sixteenth century, when the Ottoman Empire was at its peak of glory and importance under Suleiman the Magnificent. At that time, the Ottoman Empire seemed to be the anti-Europe - a Muslim empire expanding everywhere, including into Christian Europe. It not only controlled most of what we now think of as the Arab world, but it was conquering all of southeastern Europe. This culminated in the seventeenth century, in the so-called Türkenjahr, when the Habsburg emperor successfully resisted the second Ottoman siege of Vienna, in the very center of Europe. After this, the Ottoman Empire began to recede slowly, until in the nineteenth century, it was considered the "sick man of Europe." Yet, note, it was called the sick man "of Europe." The Ottoman Empire finally collapsed in the wake of the First World War. The military hero of the battle of the Dardanelles in 1915, Mustafa Kemal (later to be called Atatürk, father of the Turkish people), founded in 1919 a national liberation movement that was dedicated to the creation of a Turkish republic, nationalist and secular. By 1922, the Ottoman Sultanate was abolished. In 1923, the Turkish Republic was proclaimed, with Atatürk as President. And in 1924, the caliphate, that is, the religious authority that the Ottoman Sultan had incarnated, was abolished as well. (When in 2001, Osama bin Laden, referred to 80 years of Muslim humiliation, he specifically traced it to the abolition of the caliphate.) The program of Atatürk was resolutely "Westernizing" - transformation of the legal system, liberation of women, abolition of religious symbols (such as the wearing of the fez), and above all "Etatism" - the central role of the state in the life of the citizens. Westernizing, but not pro-European, in the sense that
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course GEO 262 at Rutgers.

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