28 September 2005

Turkey and the EU: the ongoing drama

The European Parliament has placed an unanticipated hurdle in the way of Turkey's membership in the European Union, just days before accession talks are to begin next monday. The sticking points? Cyprus, of course. But also recognition of the Armenian genocide of 1915, which Turkey has thus far refused to own up to.

Later: This is even more intriguing: Swiss scholars want famous church returned before Turkey joins EU.

Swiss scholars have petitioned the European Parliament to ask that Istanbul's sixth-century Church of Hagia Sophia, now a museum, be restored for Christian worship before Turkey joins the European Union. . . .

"Turkey has long severed its ties with darker aspects of its Ottoman past. It aspires to join the European Union. The time has come to restore Hagia Sophia's spirituality as a place of Christian worship," the Swiss scholars said.

Given that Aghia Sophia was turned into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks way back in 1453, I rather think the statute of limitations has run out on this one. The likelihood of Turkey returning the building is only slightly less than that of the EU making it a condition for that country's membership. The old cliché about an infernal snowball would seem to have some relevance here.

Here is the HagiaSophiaBlog, which is spearheading a petition to "force the European Union to consider" their proposal "that Turkey should not be admitted to the EU before restoring justice to Hagia Sophia."

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