sexta-feira, junho 06, 2014

Ali: "Maybe in ten years European Union is not going to exist anymore"

Sometimes making an EVS means a huge intercultural immersion which changes completely our vision of the world. Ali has changed his reality in Turkey for a very different lifestyle in Portugal. We talked with him about how Turkey and Europe are linked and what they can give to each other.

- What is your vision of Europe? Has anything changed after your EVS experience?
Before the project I had already travelled a lot around Europe, so I knew a bit about it. But travelling is not the same as living in a place for a long time, because you know that there is a moment to go back home. When you live like a local you get used to the country and the culture, especially if it is different from yours. So my general idea about Europe didn't change a lot during my EVS. I think that Europe is much more advanced in terms of development, so it is very good for me to be here.

- What are the similarities and the differences between Turkish and European identity?
Well, I think it is quite hard to speak about an European identity, because there are many differences between the North and the South of Europe. From my point of view, there are more similarities than differences between Turkey and Portugal, starting from the climate, but not only, of course. The way people think and enjoy life, the way of living is very similar. Even some meals are almost the same! But here the standard of living is higher, the media are freer and human rights are much more respected, and this is very important. Living in Portugal you don't need to care about many things, you can feel the freedom, while in Turkey the political situation is more unstable, the government has a big power in a lot of fields and many things are hidden from the citizens. If you are not part of any minority you can have a normal life in Turkey, but if you are not, you can feel that lack of freedom.

- Regarding the way how the Western media are showing Islam, what is your point of view about that?
After the terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York, the way of looking to the islamic countries has really changed and I think people started to feel Islamophobia. Of course, the media affected a lot to people to be much more afraid. Arabic countries have a lot of problems related with terrorism or even war, so people tend to think that they are more dangerous, but not all the countries are like that. What makes people think like that are the Islamic fundamentalists, because they don't respect the difference. Even if they are Muslims, not all Muslims are radical, but European media are more focus on the fundamentalists, they exaggerate their presence.

- Do you think it is necessary to create links between Turkey and Europe? 
We already have a lot of links, in fact we applied to become members of the European Union many years ago. At this moment, we have a lot of cooperation in a lot of fields, like justice and youth programmes, for instance, otherwise I couldn't come here with an EVS project. So I think it is important to create and maintain these links, and to make them stronger, because we have based the improvements in our country for the last eight years in the Western standards, so for us it is very important to make this Western ideology and standard of life possible in Turkey.

- What is your position about Turkey joining European Union?
I wish Turkey becomes a member of the Union in the future in order to improve our quality of life, but I am a bit skeptic. There are many countries in Europe thinking that we are not real Europeans, because of our different religion and culture, so it would be important to have more Turkish people around Europe to try to change the stereotypes. There are also many guidelines to become a member and we still have a lot of work to do, so it is difficult. I also don't know if it going to exist an European Union in ten years.

- What do you think are the weakest points of the EU?
I like European standards and the flexibility to go everywhere without borders, but I also see countries that are not happy after joining the Union and I don't want the same disappointment in Turkey. And, of course, I don't like some of the European rules deciding about national production. In some cases, like with the agriculture in Portugal, it can be bad for some of the members, making their economies weaker if they can't protect their own production. Regarding the euro, I think that not all the countries should have the same currency if their standards of living are different. There are huge differences between Northern and Southern countries, and in Turkey we can see that in the media. Maybe that's why Turkish people are starting to think that it is not worth to join the EU, because the economic situation is hard and we are better than some of the current members. Anyway, from my point of view it shouldn't be everything about the money and we also should take into account the benefits in the social and political fields.

- And concerning your cultural taste, what book, film and song would you like us to get to know?
A book: Zorba, by Nikos Kazantzakis.
A film: Los lunes al sol, by Fernando León de Aranoa.
A song: Djurdjevdan, by Bijelo Dugme.



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