French President Nicolas Sarkozy came to Turkey on February 25 for a 6 hour visit as the current chairman of the G-20 Group. The Turkish government gave him the lowest level of reception ever given to any head of state visiting the country by having the mayor of Ankara and an undersecretary of state welcome him at the airport. The mayor was indifferently chewing on a bubble gum when he greeted the unwanted visitor.
Turkish press reports that the President of the Turkish Republic unofficially asked Sarkozy not to bother for such a short visit, but the Napoleon wannabe shamelessly insisted upon coming. His purpose for the visit was not quite evident, as the short man with the gigantic ego brazenly repeated his anti-Turkish tirade in front of reporters claiming that Turkey is not part of Europe and passionately objecting to Turkish accession to the EU. Sarkozy also caused Turkish officials to chuckle when he brought up the subject of economic cooperation, including the “limitless support France is ready to give to Turkey in the nuclear domain.” Given Turkey’s stellar economic growth and the amount of investment it plans to make in nuclear energy, Sarkozy appeared to be salivating like Pavlov’s drooling dogs.
No matter what Sarkozy says, Turkey’s European identity is undeniable. Turkey is neither Switzerland nor France, but it constitutes Europe’s eastern border. It occupies the eastern territories of the Roman Empire and is home to dozens of ancient civilizations from which the modern European civilization sprang up. Turkey ruled Southeastern Europe for a good four centuries and has left an indelible imprint on the European culture, from coffee tradition to Mozart’s music. Europe’s border runs along the southern border of Turkey with Syria, and not across the Aegean.
While Sarkozy’s evident hatred of Turkey, and of Muslims in general, won’t change the hard facts, including Turkey’s presence in and increasing importance for Europe, it is a testimony to the shortsightedness and abject lack of leadership which plagues the French republic.