In a note on the meaning of the flag of the European Union, I have a brief reference to Coudenhove-Kalergi’s proposal for the inclusion of the Crescent into the flag. Is Kalergi’s proposal something gravely irresponsible but unique, considered in the light of his thinking in general? The text of the two scholars that follows can help us gain a better understanding. Unless Kalergi changed his principles (“The movement rejects the conception that Europe must unite at any price – even at the price of its culture…”), it seems that he started to believe that Turkey will stop being an Islamic country to become really European!, which of course made the inclusion of the Crescent in the European flag even more absurd!, being also in itself a proof that this man of the Greek Sun and of the Christian Love was not always in touch with reality, or, even worse, that his reality did not have a true place for culture.
D. Barlas, S. Guevenc
Turkey And The Idea Of Regional Integration In Europe
The Interwar Experience, 1923-1939
Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 45, 2009 / 3.
Paragraphs here arranged by ELLOPOSnet.
In the 1930s, the new Turkish state was gradually brought into the European fold through participation in two significant European Union projects of the time. The first was Coudenhove-Kalergi’s project, the second one was Briand’s.
Coming from a cosmopolitan family of an Austrian father and a Japanese mother, Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi was born in a multi-national and multi-ethnic empire, Austria-Hungary. His ideas inspired influential political leaders of the time such as Aristide Briand who attempted to launch a European Union with the framework of the League of Nations. Moreover, Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan- Europe, although left Turkey out initially, was subsequently revised to include it.
In fact, it was the weakness of the League of Nations that had already led Coudenhove-Kalergi to focus on the ideal of the United States of Europe in the early 1920s. His united Europe was defined politically rather than geographically or culturally.
Geographically there was no European continent; there was only a European peninsula of the Eurasian continent. For him, Europe was a political concept which embraced all the non-Soviet states of continental Europe, including Iceland (united to Denmark by a personal union). What remained of European Turkey belonged politically to Asia. “To the political concept Europe, as distinguished from its geographical counterpart, I give the name: Pan-Europe,”1 he said.
As for Briand, in 1927, French Foreign Minister became the honorary president of Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Pan-Europe movement. Briand had been in the office since 1925 and retained the foreign affairs portfolio even after he became Prime Minister in 1929.
Briand’s interest in a European federation can be linked to a number of factors. First and foremost, as a realist, he was concerned about the French security. Like most of his compatriots he believed that French security could be jeopardized by German revival. He, therefore, was convinced that the French security interests would be served best if Germany could be linked to a European framework. In May 1930, Briand published a memorandum concerning his ideas on European Union.
1 Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, Pan-europe (NY: Alfred.A. Knopf, 1926), p. 31-32.