When I was growing up in Turkey, Europe was omni-present in school text books, on TV, in the media and the daily social life conversations within my family or with friends. Europe was often associated with dreams and Europe meant hope. Dreams for peace, for good economic standards, for social progress. A dream which was already becoming reality. A best practice for the rest of the world.
Later on when I started to learn more about Europe, the European integration process and international relations, Europe became an even more glorious idea. This was after the fall of the Berlin wall but before the global crisis, 9/11 and other agonies of Western democracies. Europe was for us a powerful dream in a time when we were admiring Vaclav Havel’s article entitled “The Power of the Powerless”. And the power of Europe was relied on as a great example of transnational solidaridity and democratic values as well as the tangible social and economic achievements. Probably the most impressive episode of human civilisations’ short history on a planet which is 4.5 billion years old.
Europe’s 21st century did not start well. Globalisation has meant more competition from a re-emerging Asia, collapsing ecological system, troubled security contexts and the impressive rise of transformational technologies. Europe and its international environment have changed a lot since the 20th century. One of the few elements which has not changed since then is the almost 40 years old “candidacy of Turkey to EU membership”. For the majority of the Turkish people, Europe is still a good dream. Please note that in Turkish culture we believe that a stubborn dream always comes true. However there is a problem. The dream of Europe, like here in European Union societies, is also losing its power in Turkey. Corollary, Europe’s dream of being a global power is vanishing.
This is not a dream to make our nights comfortable and our days more hopeful. This is about fundamental realities and aspirations which have met this European dream. This is about the very essence of European values. Democracy, rule of law, women rights as well as more daily life issues such as food security, clean air or transparent public procurement. In the 21 century, this European dream can not survive with loose leadership, fearful politicians, superficial media reporting, uncommunicative Commissioners and parliamentarians who are unable to be rational or poetic vis-à-vis the challenges of our century. These challenges require the European Union to become a stronger political system and a larger geography promoting membership of countries like Turkey, courageously and rationally. This will mean that candidate countries, driven by the transformational force of the European dream, will become a real European democracy and within Europe’s socioeconomic system. Europe ought to reenergise the power of the dream for its citizens and for the citizens of the world. I wish that we will have a 21 century marked by a renewed European dream for a better 22th century.
I would like share with you a few verses from a collective work of poetry in which I had the pleasure to participate. It is a book by several European poets published by Passaporta and entitled “The European Constitution in Verses”.
Here are some of my verses from this book:
“Feel the others’ rhythm
Get these crinoids and few nettle
Comb the Aegean’s hair with your melodies
Caress the North Sea’s salty skin
Remember me Europa!!“