Outside Closed Doors
Turkish lawyers are very busy people. Even veteran attorneys have been ordering takeout and spending late nights at the office the past couple of years as they pour over stacks of new laws that have snowed the judiciary under. This blizzard of new legislation has filled the legal system with numerous new courts, hundreds of new laws and changes to one third of the constitution. The heavy-handed state security court has been abolished along with the death penalty in favor of more Western-style intellectual property, consumer, juvenile and family courts. Law enforcement powers have been limited, and laws concerning everything from police brutality to the press to industrial pollution to commercial transactions have been revamped. The definitions of treason and crimes concerning dissent against the state, along with the associated criminal penalties, have been relaxed, allowing for more democratic free speech.
Why all these changes? Turkey’s legal enlightenment is an entire nation bending over backward trying to add a European Union membership card to its wallet.
It’s surprising Turkey’s back hasn’t long since snapped—it’s been bending for decades. In the first part of the 20th century, Aratürk, the founder of the Turkish republic, instituted a blitz of reforms virtually unmatched in history as he swayed the Turkish people to “turn toward Europe,” to quote one of his most famous admonitions. He replaced the sultanate with the presidency and modernized and secularized the nation, removing Islam as the state religion and westernizing everything from law to dress to the calendar to the alphabet.
More recently, Turkey has reined in some of its human-rights problems, which have lingered for decades. The carrot of EU membership has been enough to take a country that was home to political killings, torture and executions only a decade ago and bring it to the point where, on Oct. 6, 2004, the European Commission declared Turkey had “sufficiently fulfilled the political criteria” to open accession talks with the EU.
There’s a reason this way-station nation halfway between the West and the Middle East has had to do so much bending. For as long as Turkey has knocked on the European door, the Continentals have turned a deaf ear.
For over a century, Turkey has been called “Europe’s sick man.” In spite of its growth potential, this crossroads country has a per capita income still hovering at only $6,700. Many Europeans fear that taking on a nation of 69 million Turks with an exploding population and demands for member subsidies will strain the Union’s finances.
Critics of Turkish membership add that the 3 million Turks who work in Europe have not integrated with their surrogate countries. They also point out that Turkey is uncomfortably close to one of the most unstable regions in the world and might expose Europe to weapons and drug trafficking.
The real snag, however, is religion. Turkey is almost completely Islamic. And many Europeans have not forgotten the Ottoman Empire, referred to by some history books as the “scourge of Christendom.”
“The fundamental issue,” says Franck Fregosi of the Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg, France, “is whether a Muslim country has a place in Europe. Everybody is trying to sidestep this” (Washington Times, Dec. 5, 2004).
Everybody has been. German opposition leaders Edmund Stoiber of the Christian Social Union party and Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union drafted a letter to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in an attempt to prevent negotiations with Turkey, and have spoken out strongly against the EU taking on a Muslim member state. The EU’s presidency, currently in the hands of the Netherlands, has deliberately avoided serious discussion about it. Jonathan Davidson, senior adviser for political and academic affairs at the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States, estimated that the earliest Turkey could hope to join the Union would be 2014. Chancellor Schröder, who favors Turkish membership but walks a fine line with his constituents, said in December that the nation should be ready to accept 10 to 15 years of talks with an “open outcome.”
French President Jacques Chirac bluntly outlined three stipulations before the EU could dance with Turkey: Turkey must understand that the negotiations could end in less than full membership (the aforementioned “open outcome”), the French people have the right to reject Turkish membership by referendum, and talks could not begin until after the French referendum on the European constitution. He said that if Turkey does not meet all the conditions in the French interest, negotiations will come to a halt.
So goes the saga of this awkward association: Turkey toiling to make it work, and the Continent embracing it only at arm’s length. In essence, the relationship is setting Turkey up to fulfill a role in future events just as Bible prophecy suggests it will.
A “Third Way”
Although this Islamic nation will not be a part of the united European superpower that will rise out of the EU under the banner of Catholicism (Daniel 2; Revelation 6:1-2; chapters 17, 18 and many others), God says this concerning Edom (or Esau—see Genesis 36:8—whose descendents comprise Turkey), in the context of European prophesied assault on Israel (the United States and Britain): “In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers [Europe] carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them” (Obadiah 11). At some point, Turkey will align itself with Europe.
As brought out in our booklet The King of the South, Psalms 83 provides additional proof of a unique alliance between Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Assur (modern Germany). The Bible also indicates in Daniel 11:40-41 that Turkey and these other nations will be spared the wrath and the bullets of the German/European war machine. This too would suggest that some kind of agreement will soon be struck.
Lo and behold, recent and somewhat surprising headlines corroborate the Bible’s stance.
President Chirac altered his tune in early December by calling for a third way for Turkey. According to the EU Observer’s website, Chirac called for a “privileged partnership” with Ankara (Dec. 3, 2004). Turkey objects to the idea of anything less than full membership, since its legislators, attorneys, judges, policemen, teachers, traders, tailors and virtually everybody else have made continent-size changes to their lifestyles—but the concept is accumulating support among the Eurocracy, especially in Germany, Austria and France.
Europe’s “third way” for Turkey looks to be the headwaters of the fulfillment of biblical news-before-it-happens prophecy. The Bible indicates that Muslim Turkey will never be a fellow of the European Union, and certainly not a full member of the coming Catholic beast power that will cover the ground with Israelite blood—but, in service to its European bedfellows, it will commit a horrendous back-stab of its Israelite cousins!
Through the Prophet Obadiah, God tells the Turks, “Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress” (verse 14). The Plain Truth wrote about this prophecy nearly 40 years ago: “[A]s staggering and unbelievable as it sounds, one of the major events God points out that will bring His wrath down upon Turkey will be the delivering of thousands of British, American and possibly Israeli refugees into the hands of the ‘beast’ power in central Europe when the military takeover of [Israel] occurs” (June 1966).
Today, Turkey is being set up to carry out this prophetic double-cross. Expect it to continue cozying up to Europe. Right up to the bitter end.