Turkey can consider itself lucky not to be part of the European Union

– that’s one of the statements Tariq Ali made at his talk last friday at SALT

Tariq Ali kleinTariq Ali, british author, filmmaker and historian, was born in Lahore,  Pakistan, almost 70 years ago. While he was a student at the University of Punjab he organzied public demonstrations against Pakistan’s military dictatorship. He emigrated to Great Britain In order to avoid being sent to prison. He was active in the „New Left“ party, took part in the british student riots during the Vietnam war and later joined the International Marxist Group. This party dissolved in 1981 and he entered the Labour party.

Tariq published many, also critical, books for example on the Iraq war or 9/11, he is directing movies and he is giving talks. For example in 2005 in the World Social Forum in Brazil or last friday at SALT Galata. There he talked about Turkey, the NATO, the European Union and world politics today. The occasion for his talk is the exhibition 1+8 showing artistic films about Turkey, the borders to its eight neighbour states and the kurdish people who live there.


Tariq Ali starts off his talk criticizing the detachment of context and its transfer to spatially or temporally distant relations by the media, often refered to as Decontextualization.


For Tariq Ali especially the US government follows their interests everywhere and intervene or support wars, most prominently in the Middle East. In his opinion the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, is „openly and nakedly an instrument of US foreign policy.“


And what about Turkey?


Tariq thinks that the NATO-membership wasn’t a good thing for Turkey as a state, because they „had to“ send troups to Afganistan „to help the NATO keeping peace“. But he situation in Afganistan got worse and Tariq ironically knows one reason: „Afghans have a „weird“ characteristic: They don’t like to be occupied.“


Another topic of his talk is the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Tariq Ali asks for rights of minorities in the Turkish constitution because for him the physical creation of an indepentend Kurdish state is not the solution:


He compares the kurdish situation to Palestine and poses the question: „Why don’t people say we are citizens of where we live?“. The demand for autonomy within a large state would be a big step forward in his opinion.


Tariq Ali also talkes about „the most interesting political experiment“ which is taking place in South America:


In his opinion these states that use the wealth of their state for their people should be a model for the Arab world.


After Tariq Ali finishes his talk, there is time for questions and a discussion. Of course the European Union is also a subject. „The European Union is in a complete mess economically,“ says Tariq and he thinks that Turkey can somehow consider itself lucky not to be part of the European Union. But he notes that „not being in the EU is not sufficient, a country has to learn to be indepentent.“ The future is uncertain and Tariq Ali isn’t sure how long the EU, in its present shape and structure, will last. „Maybe ten years?“

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