Tag Archives: Frau Merkel

“Χριστός Ανέστη” — Christ Has Risen — and I’m so damn PROUD…

25 Jan

I swear to God those were the first words — the two most totemic in the Greek language — that instinctively leapt out of my mouth when a very loved cousin of mine in Athens answered her mobile today.

Anastasis_fresco_(Chora_Church)The Resurrection fresco in the church of the Chora in Constantinople (click)

I don’t know what will happen.  Tomorrow, me…and Greeks all over the world will wake up sober — or hungover — and have to figure out how this thing is actually going to work.

But one thing all of us need to understand is the power of language and discourse.  By “discourse” I mean the idea and interpretations that people give and ascribe to the phenomena in the world around them; that discourse is “poetic” and a process of “poiesis”— not poetic like Byron or Baudelaire — but poetic in the original Greek sense of “making” or “creating.”  What that means is that DISCOURSE: what people say about things, how people talk about and interpret reality, the opinions and analyses of that reality, are not an either accurate or inaccurate view of that reality but a code and a language that create that reality.  This is simple stuff.  Intro to Deconstruction.  Foucault 101.  And nowhere is it truer than in the “game of chicken” played in the arena of political economics.

So, like I said in GREEK ELECTIONS,” if a critical mass believes a hypothesis is true — or just possible — then it becomes true; then actions and gestures on the ground, and praxeis in the “real,” physical world will create that reality, poetically.  And if we continue to bolster — worse, think we deserve — the Troika’s Neo-Liberal discourse of exploitation, then it will continue.  If we support a discourse, if we believe that an alternative to that reality is possible, then it will emerge.  It only took some workers in a Gdańsk shipyard to say: “I’m not gonna pretend that I believe this shit anymore”; it only took a heroic Gorbachev to say: “This isn’t working”, for the most horrific political economic system that has ever been inflicted on humanity, and that seemed as eternal and as immoveable as Everest, to come crashing down like a house of cards from one day to the next.

This will work, if we let it.  They’ll feed us a language of fear, which if we swallow, will ruin us.  If we simply keep in mind: “That’s what you think — and want us to think — but we won’t,” change will come.

ALSO, we, as ROMANS, should be immensely proud that so many other left-leaning, anti-austerity parties from the rest of the European periphery: Spain, Portugal — and even from Prussia itself and other parts of Merkelstan — came to be part of these elections.  If it gives them only a tiny drop of optimism, if it makes them feel like: “Yes, we can say ‘No!’ too”, it will be a by far greater gift to them than anything else we supposedly gave the West in the past.



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“It’s Turkey’s Time” — NYT

28 Jun

May 23, 2012, 8:49 am 14 Comments

(Murad Sezer/Associated Press)

ISTANBUL — If patience is a virtue, then Turkey’s place among the angels is secure. The country’s efforts to become a member of the European Union has been dragging on for some 50 years, and while Ankara has not always been free from blame, since 2005 — when negotiations began in earnest — it has been trying hard to climb over the wall of Europe’s prejudices.

Yet now there is hope at last that the process may accelerate. Voter disenchantment in the euro zone recently claimed the head of President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the leader of the die-hard Turko-skeptics. France had been refusing to even discuss with Turkey important provisions of the accession document known as the acquis communautaire, including those about budgetary affairs and agriculture. Along with his ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel — who has also been answering to constituencies that regard Turkey as not European enough to join the European club — Sarkozy favored granting Turkey a form of association that would stop well short of full membership.

News from the latest NATO summit in Chicago is that Sarkozy’s successor, François Hollande, is trying to turn the page. German attitudes may also be changing. Last week Merkel’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, a member of the Liberal Democrats — partners of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union in the governing coalition — delivered to Ankara a message very different from hers. “What is important is to seize the opportunity that emerged after the latest elections in Europe and restart E.U.-Turkey ties,” he said.

Turkey itself must seize the moment. Making the E.U. a priority again would quiet growing criticism that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming more autocratic as its traditional opponents (including the military) become weaker. But doing so will not be an easy matter. If Europeans may be said to suffer from enlargement fatigue, in the case of the Turks, it’s more like narcolepsy. The Turkish government is understandably tired of banging its head against a wall.

Turkey first approached Brussels in 1959. In 1963 it signed the Ankara Agreement, which set out a path for its joining what was then the European Communities. As Europe’s economic integration became political, too, sharing sovereignty with Turkey started to look like a more elaborate project. Still, in 2004, after an intense period of reform, Turkey was declared a full candidate for E.U. membership. Enthusiasm for joining Europe among Turks shot up, with 73 percent of respondents to a survey by the German Marshall Fund saying they thought accession would be a good thing.

But then Europe’s leaders slowed down negotiations, and the Turkish public started to look on the E.U. as a club that did not want them as members. By 2010, support for E.U. membership among Turks had dropped to 38 percent.

Europe wasn’t the only guilty party. My own jaundiced take is that Ankara was more interested in becoming a full candidate for E.U. membership than in becoming a full member of the E.U. Candidacy was an advertisement that Turkey was on a stable course, and it was instrumental in attracting much-needed foreign direct investment. Actual progress toward membership, on the other hand, would have meant implementing more reforms — environmental policies, greater transparency for government tenders — all at a steep economic and political cost. Turkey also refused to recognize the E.U. member Cyprus, or even open its ports to Cypriot vessels.

Turkish attitudes may change again, though. Over the past few years, Turks had begun to flirt with the notion that the Middle East was Ankara’s natural backyard. But they’ve started to realize that the Arab Spring has brought some stormy weather. Turkey’s relations with Iraq, Iran and Syria are at a low, and its export opportunities in Libya and Egypt have taken a hit. Despite the economic crisis in Europe, Turkey still carries out about 43 percent of its trade with the E.U.

Now is just the time when Turkey should want to join the union. With Europe more skeptical about itself these days, it may be less skeptical about admitting Turkey. While Europe staggers under austerity measures, Turkey is experiencing a boom. In the last two years its G.D.P. grew by 9.2 percent and 8.5 percent. The figure for this year will likely be lower, but Turkey can present itself as an engine of Europe’s recovery; it already is the E.U.’s fifth-largest export market. And though incorporating such a big country is still a major challenge, the task may seem less daunting if a “two-tier” Europe — with political integration occurring at different rates for different countries — emerges from the current crisis.

Turkey should spin Europe’s economic problems to its advantage and revive talks for E.U. membership. To its credit, the government has begun to speak about a “new era” and a “clean page.” At a time when Turkey is trying to adopt a more liberal constitution and better enforce the civil rights of the minorities like the Kurds, progress toward E.U. membership would strengthen democracy here. That would be good for Turkey, Europe and for Turkey’s neighborhood.

Andrew Finkel has been a foreign correspondent in Istanbul for over 20 years, as well as a columnist for Turkish-language newspapers. He is the author of the book “Turkey: What Everyone Needs to Know.”


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