The French have a tradition in which a nation is invited to devote a six month period in which cultural aspects of their society are presented to the French public, a “country season” as it is commonly termed. The Turkish government in 2006 arranged with France to have 2008 be the year in which a “Turkish season” would display Turkish fashions, literary works, culinary expositions and many other facets of Turkish culture to the people of France. They have now been informed the season will never get going because Turkey has been bumped from the parade. The denial comes on the heels of President Sarkozy’s efforts to block Turkish entry into the European Union. According to a Turkish diplomat, “We think the real reason behind France’s request to postpone the Turkish season is the fact that it just comes ahead of Euro elections” to the European Parliament. Last year, the season featured Armenia, a nation with whom Turkey has poor relations.
It becomes increasingly evident that President Sarkozy is determined to block Turkey’s entry into the European Union. This latest manifestation of hostility was bound to infuriate the Turkish government and people, particularly since Turkey was scheduled to present its culture the year after Armenia had the opportunity. It is a slap in the face that accomplishes little except to widen differences between a Muslim nation which attempts to serve as a bridge between the world and more fundamentalist groups in Arab nations. Sarkozy may feel pleased at his inept attempt at diplomacy, but Europe and the world will suffer.