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Prof. Emre Kongar

Yıldız Techincal University-Daily Cumhuriyet. Istanbul, Turkey

Abstract of the paper presented at the Conference on "More Europe: National and Foreign Cultural Policies in and Beyond Europe"

8-11 October, 20003 Warsaw


The history of mankind has been shaped by two fundamental revolutions:

Agricultural revolution hand in hand with the monotheistic religions and industrial revolution flourishing the ideology of nation-state brought us today's political and cultural formations of the world.

Both revolutions have witnessed bloodshed along the lines of religious and nationalistic antagonisms.

In this sense, the formation of EU, after the two World Wars, is a project to overcome those antagonistic feelings and relations along the lines of religion and nationalism.

The "Cold War" Period

"The European Common Market" project started during the fierce years of East-West rivalry. Thus it was geared toward the integration of Europe which was placed in between the U.S.A. and Soviet Union.

During this period, remarkable developments have been achieved in economic integration as well as in the political one.

But after the demise of the Soviet Union a completely new picture came to the fore: The rivalry between East and West has ended a new era, called "Globalization" started.

EU in the era of globalization

After the "Cold War" ended, EU has entered a new phase: The integration of the "Larger Europe". This integration is now of course included previous "East European States" which were under the Soviet influence during the "Cold War".

This new phase has started within the member states of EU, with the unification of Germany and this development has paved the way for the extension of the borders of Europe.

Since the new cultural and political frontiers of globalization cut across the religious and nationalistic differences, the "New Europe" has emerged as a futuristic project not only for Europe, but for the humanity as a whole.

Globalization has two contradictory aspects with regard to culture:

It surpasses nationalistic cultures and puts all of them in the melting pot of a "global market" whereas at the same time underlines and puts special emphasis on local cultures especially the ones that are under the threat of extinction.

A new image for EU

Thus an utopia of an international entity which cuts across the boundaries of religion and nationality, denies any one track religious or racial policy as a cultural axis for EU.

This of course is an open challenge to the concept of "The Christian Europe" of the Christian Democrats of Germany as well as that of Giscard d'Estaing which unfortunately seemed to be supported by Poland, Spain and Italy in the recent Rome Conference on the new constitution of EU.

The concept of "Western civilization" based on Catholic and Protestant sects in Western Europe, America and Australia, as opposed to Orthodox Christian, Catholic Latin, Islamic and Sind civilizations has allegedly created by Samuel P. Huntington in his last study of "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the New World Order".

According to his theory, Huntington argues that the "Western civilization, based on Catholic and Protestant values" is unique, and cannot be imitated or catch up with by any other civilization at all.

The false assumption of such an argument is evident: It denies all kinds of interactions among the human societies aş well as among the different cultures of the world.

Such an assumption which treats the cultures as isolated entities can not acceptable especially in the era of "globalization" which intensifies not only economic and technological but also ideological and political interactions among the different nations and the cultures of the world.

Thus if EU is a project which enlightens the future of human society, it is evident that it should cut across the cultures, religions and nationalities.

I should say that the inclusion of Turkey in EU is the best instrument to achieve such a multi-religious, multi-cultural image of EU.

What EU Can Do?

First of all, EU should stress its secular values as opposed to the values of any religion, sect or denomination which would play the role of "another Berlin wall" among the various beliefs of the European population.

Second, as I have already stated above, inclusion of Turkey would serve as the factor for the strengthening of the secular character of the EU value system.

Third, the cultural activities which would be supported and sponsored by EU should be cross religious, as well as cross cultural.

What Turkey Can Do?

In this respect, there as of course a lot of things Turkey can do.

First of all, Turkey should strengthen her commitment in a multi-cultural society along the lines of her secular and democratic constitution.

Second, the NGOs should be encouraged in their efforts to participate in the decision making process of the government with regard the democratization process of the society and the legal system.

Third, the NGOs should also be encouraged in their efforts toward an integrated multi-cultural Europe.

Fourth, more than 3.000.000 Turks living in European countries should be supported in their efforts for an integrated, multi-cultural Europe.

Fifth, Turkey should intensively express these views of multi-religious, multi-cultural EU image to the member countries as well as the candidates.

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