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Turkey - Middle East or Europe?


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  • Added on: June 21st, 2004
Do you consider Turkey part of the Middle East or part of Europe?

I am curious what most members think?


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  • Added on: June 22nd, 2004
Hmm, I'm sure there are some geographers here who can give a better account of their opinion, but here's my two cents.

First, if someone asked me what region it belonged to, I'd say Asia Minor, but I guess that's not an option ;-)

In a sense, I think of it as European, possibly because of its NATO membership. Not sure about its relationship to the EU, but that might clarify it a bit, too.

I'm not familiar with the ethnicity of the peoples of Turkey. That might be the clincher. I'll be interested to see what others think


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  • Added on: June 24th, 2004
interesting question donovan..
i think that it is considered european since eastern thrace is turkish.

However eastern thrace is 1% percentage of turkey, so i cant really say..

Dont forget that israel is considered european as well, therefore i am not sure that the "european" term is related with geographic characteristics.


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  • Added on: July 19th, 2004
i'm living there at the moment, and have been grappling with this question since the last time i was here (3 years ago). if you check out magazines like the economist, they stick turkey in the europe section, but most people consider it part of the middle east.
culturally, it's the most mixed-up i've ever witnessed. the best example i can think of is the 2 women i saw several years back in full black burkas (still a rarity here though) walking out of a bikini store in a super-modern part of town. i don't think turks know who they are, either.



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  • Added on: July 25th, 2004
Both..and neither. It depends on what your criteria are. Geographically; both. Politically; both. Linguistically; neither. Culturally; well, that depends.

This ambiguity is what makes Turkey one of my favorite countries to visit. Istanbul and the Aegean coast are definitely european-leaning. Diyarbakir is more middle eastern.

We (the big cultural we) have this strange compulsion to have everything neatly classified. But there are always things (like fungus or the duck-billed platypus) that defy our pre-determined niches. Turkey is thankfully one of these.


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  • Added on: July 26th, 2004
I agree with everyone on this point: what makes Turkey such an endlessly fascinating place is the mix-up of West versus East. In Istanbul, if you are in Levent or Taksim, you could be in any city in the West (until you hit the bazaar...) Cross over to Uskudar, a more strongly Muslim area, and the 'scarfies', as they are called in Turkey, are much more apparent. Turkey has a complicated social and political structure born out of Ataturk's strong desire to de-Ottomanise Turkey and keep it as secular a state as possible - to the extent of romanising their script, for example. Since then, the urban Turks, especially the intelligentsia, have been keen for Turkey to be a member of the West, and therefore to be considered part of Europe. The problems Turkey face to be accepted in Europe are many; swathes of the countryside are far less 'advanced' than the cities, even less so than those countries in Eastern and Central Europe who recently joined the Union. They still haven't got rid of rampant inflation, (they used to call it sustainable inflation,) though this is coming down, earthquakes have put the economy back a few years, and, more importantly,as far as Europe is concerned, political problems (who are the real strong people in Turkey; who really run the show in spite of its appearance of democracy? Answer: the military, still, though there are some who argue that its influence is weakening, especially since Erdogan's government has been in power.) And of course there is Cyprus and the old Greek-Turkish hostilities. One thing is for sure, whatever their political and economic problems, the Turks are among the most urbane and nicest people I know. Confused about the European-Asian issue, certainly, but who wouldn't be in their position?

Another Joe

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  • Added on: July 27th, 2004
In a weeks time, I'll be in Istanbul, starting a trip around eastern Europe. For that reason, I think of Turkey as part of Europe. I'd probably think diferently if I was staring in Istanbul and travelling east. This is something I'll have a better understanding of in a couple of months when I arrive home.

Robin and Matt

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  • Added on: August 10th, 2004
without having been there (yet) I would say Europe, since they are trying to get included as part of the EU.....and politically, by being an ally with the US regarding the war, Gulf II, they won't have many friends in the Middle East to go to....


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  • Added on: August 11th, 2004
Well, Europe is a continent, while the Middle East is a region. Turkey is one of the few countries that straddles two continents- Asia and Europe. I think what you meant was is it more European or more Arabic influenced. It's probably both, but I'm guessing since I've never been there yet.


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  • Added on: September 13th, 2004
Ever seen the authentic turkish delight???

Thats the way the middle eastern culture has blended with the european to come up with their own unique blend!!!

Its the best country in the world!!!! (and I'm not even a local!)
"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

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