The major role that Turkey took in the flotilla bound for Gaza has highlighted the fact that this nation is standing squarely between east and west, geographically, culturally, and politically. The dividing line between Asia and Europe literally runs right through the city of Istanbul. In recent years, Turkey has been trying to get admitted into the European Union. Being no admirer of the EU, I have often asked my Turkish acquaintances why they would want to bother being admitted to a bureaucratic mess that has continually imposed one condition after another on them. Right now, it doesn't look like a good idea for the EU to admit Turkey.
I have visited Turkey on two occasions (Ankara and Istanbul on both visits. ) At that time, I was on official business with DEA (working drug cases with the Turkish National Police). I enjoyed the country, liked the people and valued by relationship with the head of the Turkish National Police drug department in Ankara (Attila Aytek). He was an honest and dedicated cop, who worked closely with his international colleagues.
In addition, Turkey is a beautiful country with friendly (and tough) people, fantastic food and world-class beer. Though Muslims, the Turks had been secular since the rule of Kemal Ataturk, who changed the Turkish alphabet from Arabic into Latin and generally reduced the Islamic influence over Turkish life. Turks are unabashed drinkers, who love their Raki and as stated, one of the world's great beers.
In recent years, with the breakup of the ex-USSR, Turkey established links with the Turkic-speaking, newly independent states of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.
Now, with world events being what they are, Turkey is changing. The hijab is coming back and Turkey, under the pro-Islamist rule of Recep Erdogan, is moving farther and farther away from Europe and the West in general. Turkey, heretofore, Israel's only Muslim ally, is now close to breaking that bond. Rather than integrate into Europe, many are harking back to the old Ottoman Empire.
Turks mourning flotilla dead
The question for Europe is now whether they want Turkey, in its current makeup, as part of the European Union. Far be it from me to advise the Europeans, but it seems that now even more time is needed to assess what the advantages and disadvantages would be to admitting Turkey. Right now, with the prospect of the country drifting in the direction of Islamic influence, it looks problematical. It would be with much sadness to watch the west lose its friendship with Turkey.