Prior to the start date of Turkey’s accession negotiations (3.10.2005), there had been much discussion as to whether Turkey should or could have a place in the EU.

The main exponent of the view that Turkey cannot have a place in the EU, was the former President of France Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Costas Simitis contradicted D’Estaing’s view with an article in the prominent French newspaper Le Monde. It was the time of the last prime ministerial term of Costas Simitis, during which a loud Greek support of the “European course of Turkey” was inaugurated. This policy continued with the next governments to reach the beginning of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the consent of Greece without any substantial consideration. Thus, the infamous casus belli, i.e. the Turkish threat of war in the event of the expansion of our maritime space from six to twelve miles, persists. A right that derives from the law of the sea and which we have not yet dared to use.

Here are the key points of Simitis’ article in the newspaper Le Monde: “Turkey has been a great European power since the 16th century and the Ottoman Empire played a role in the creation of Europe that exists today (…). Francis I made an alliance with Suleiman, there was a Franco-Ottoman axis against the Hapsburgs. Mr. Giscard d’Estaing therefore forgot that it was France that introduced Turkey to Europe. In any case, Turkey can be a member of the EU.” (To Vima 19.1.2003 translated by Th. Pangalos).

The question that arises is how the Ottoman Empire played a role “in the creation of Europe that exists today”, as Costas Simitis states. Simply in the tried and tested way of invading, slaughtering and enslaving peoples.

The Ottoman Empire was indeed present in central Europe in the 16th century. The Ottomans had invaded Hungary with Suleiman in 1526, after exterminating the entire Hungarian infantry and cavalry at the Battle of Mahatsa. They remained a bitter conqueror in Hungary for 174 years, with the result that the country lost 50% of its population. “Millions of people were starved to death or sold in slave markets in North Africa“, says the famous Hungarian writer Steven Vizinsey. Does the current Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbron, know this, who is all sweet with Erdogan? Has he realized Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams? Does he know that his friend envies Suleiman’s trophies? Orbron and Erdogan are linked by the fact that they both have similar authoritarian tendencies. The like always comes close to the like.

Three years later (1529) after the conquest of Hungary (1525), the Turks unsuccessfully besieged Vienna. Therefore, it is not “France that introduced Turkey to Europe” through Francis I, as Costas Simitis argues. Turkey was already present in Central Europe when Francis I did indeed form an alliance with Suleiman. Being in a multi-year war with the Hapsburgs, at some point he found himself so cramped that he would ally event with the devil. The Ottoman Empire invaded Europe continuing its well-known conquest tactics. This, of course, does not give it a European identity according to Simitis logic. By the same logic, Turkestan, from the steppes of which the Huns of Attila started in the 4th century and flooded Europe, should also claim Europeanism!

Costas Simitis, in order to support the Europeanism of Turkey, did not hesitate to clash with a tried and tested friend. It is well known how much Giscard d’Estaing supported our country before and throughout the accession negotiations. It was then that Costas Simitis had opposed membership, following the well-known anti-accession policy of PASOK. This is shown in his article in the prestigious magazine “Political Issues” entitled “Why we are against” (issue number 335 – 336, 2.9.1980).

The above referred article by Costas Simitis in the newspaper Le Monde concludes: “In any case, Turkey can be a member of the EU“. However, recent developments in Turkey with the persecution of all dissidents and the neo-Ottoman declarations of the Turkish leadership show that there is a geopolitical incompatibility of Turkey with Europe.


Angelos Zacharopoulos

Honorary Director of the European Commission

Former Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, member of the Central Negotiating Committee for the accession of Greece to the EEC (the last survivor).