Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote in his autobiography:
“The most important step toward such a new understanding between Europe and the Near East has been accomplished by Modern Turkey, that recently under its leader Kemal Atatürk, embraced without any European pressure all vital elements of Western civilization. This Turkish Revolution is paving the way for a complete reconciliation between Europe and the Near East.”18
Moreover, Coudenhove-Kalergi was convinced that Turkey was an integral part of Pan-Europe. He maintained his positive view on Turkey and Greece years later. For instance, he pointed out: “Since then I had often thought of the inspiring example Greece and Turkey had given their sister nations by securing national peace and prosperity at the price of a generous compromise. I thought of them now. I compared their attitude with that of France and Germany.”19 In this comparison, contrary to Turkey and Greece, he was more pessimistic vis-à-vis France and Germany. He said: “If France … recognizes that it cannot destroy Germany without putting itself in danger of death, it must … resolutely take the path of reconciliation”.20
Coudenhove-Kalergi was right in his analysis of Turkish-Greek and French- German relations in the interwar period. The former countries were successful to form an entente and also able to convince other Balkan countries to be part of it. However, French-German reconciliation could not be achieved in this decade.
The main difference between the two parties was the way how they had intended to deal with uncertainties. Regional cooperation for countries such as Turkey was determinant for stability in their own regions under the world economic crisis. Even in the case of a united Europe, Balkan countries felt the need to be in solidarity since they were facing similar economic problems.
But for countries such as France and Germany, economic and political rivalry was above all. In fact, the great power rivalry in Europe secured Turkey a seat in the Europe of institutions in the interwar period.
Ankara’s success in breaking its international isolation and securing an invitation for Commission of Enquiry for European Union was certainly linked to political rivalries in Europe and mostly to the acts of balancing on the part of Italy and Germany against France in the continent.
In this context, the Italian insistence on the Soviet and Turkish inclusion in the works of the Commission of Enquiry for European Union point to a continuity and consistency in Italian thinking. Both Italy and France tried to modify the proposed schemes to suit their political interests in the region.
The Turkish leaders and public could relate more effectively and easily to Briand’s European Union than Coudenhove-Kalergi’s Paneuropa for two reasons. First, Briand’s proposal called for an intergovernmental setting which was acceptable for the sovereignty-conscientious Turks.
18 Coudenhove-Kalergi, Crusade for Pan-Europe…, p. 280.
20 Stirk, Building European Union…, p. 8.