Turkey proposes a Middle Eastern ''Schengen area''

Article published on Nov. 26, 2010
Article published on Nov. 26, 2010
Turkish PM Erdogan proposed a ''Schengen area''' for the Middle Eastern countries, following the paradigm of Europe. According to the Turkish newspaper ''Sabah'', Erdogan proposed the plan during an official speech in Lebanon when he was awarded for his leadership skills, while at the same time he stated that Turkey has a visa waiver program for Suria, Libya, Lebanon and Jordan.
It seems that Turkey is really heading forward to become a regional superpower, however, proposing a 'Schengen'' area for the Middle East is a bit easy but the question is how such an area can be found and which states will participate.

Furthermore, for the Arabs, Turkey is not regarded as an ''orthodox muslim'' country both politically and culturally.

But is culture a matter? Well, for the Arabs yes, since how can you call for a ''muslim axis'' when you are not a proper muslim state? Turkish people do not follow the alcohol restriction according to Islam. Also, their religious practises are a bit strange, since they include previous commodities, inherited by the Eastern Christian traditions. He banished the chalifate, he transfered the capital from Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) to Ankara and switched the alphabet from arabic to latin.

Politically speaking, since 1923, when Ataturk proclaimed the Turkish Republic, he actually wanted to separate himself of the islamic Ottoman tradition.

Furthermore, in Turkey a big issue is the restriction over hijab, another law introduced by Ataturk in the mid-1920's.

All the above mentioned may look trivial in an extent to a European, but certainly in the Middle East these moves are regarded as ''hostile'' to the islamic tradition.

As a result Turkey doesnt seem to have the credentials to lead such an initiative despite the fact that Erdogan is a Prime Minister, who is a political islamist...

The question is where is Turkey actually looking..westwards,eastwards or both?