Professor Tasin Gemil
Institute of Turkology, “Babeș-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca
Member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Levant Culture and Civilization
Nearly three decades ago, I gave an address in the Auditorium of the Romanian Academy on The global political system from the perspective of history, in which I presented the historical models and landmarks that underpin current initiatives and actions. Among them, I referred to the Res Publica Christiana, an initiative of Pope Sylvester II and Holy Roman Emperor Otto III a thousand years ago. In my opinion, therein lies the nascent idea of a European Union (combined with NATO) which, either by accident or by design, was put forward by a French thinker and supported by a German leader.
Indeed, the European Union was conceived from the outset as a “Christian club”, as president Valery Giscard d’Estaing himself openly stated on multiple occasions. Only Europe, today, is a far cry from the (Catholic) Europe of the Middle Ages, and indeed even from Europe as it stood at the European Union’s inception. Several Orthodox countries have been admitted to the select club of the European Union, albeit with some difficulty; yet decisive weight is still held by the Catholic (including in this designation the Reformed and Protestant) spirit. Although not ostentatiously affirmed, this spirit permeates the thinking of European decision-makers. I believe herein lies the European Union’s proverbial Achilles’ heel, and not in the ever-louder and increasingly numerous presence of Muslim, Indian, African or other communities in our societies and in the political, economic and cultural structures of EU member states. Above all, I believe we would do well to keep in mind the great influence of China, followed closely thereafter by that of India. The Catholic European spirit must adapt to these challenges, that could very well undermine it from within if – as is rumoured – China will allow Protestant Christianity as a state religion. In any case, China’s apparent docility should not lull European prudence. The United States have never, I believe, lost sight of these global factors; yet, to the best of my knowledge, the European Union is still not awarding Asia the attention it deserves.
Whether we like it or not, Asia now comes upon Europe, I claimed in 1991 during a session of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly. The current situation in Europe is, in large part, similar to that in the late Roman Empire on the eve of the Great Migrations. The migrating peoples only dared cross the Roman frontier once the Romans’ spiritual and moral crisis was apparent to all, a time when Christianity had not yet secured its dominance and was more interested in subverting all things Roman. I am convinced that history could well hold valuable lessons for our politicians, were it only afforded the attention it deserves.