For centuries the Ottoman Empire posed a serious threat to Europe. The powerful caliphate ruled from Istanbul was only halted at the gates of Vienna by Catholic forces that did not want to be conquered by Islam.
In the nineteenth century, the Europeans were able to push the Ottomans back, freeing countries in south-east Europe that had been ruled for centuries by the Ottoman Sultan. At the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, after more than six centuries, collapsed and was replaced by the Turkish Republic.
Now Europe is granting visa-free travel to the 80 million citizens of Turkey, meaning that the descendants of the Ottoman conquerors will be allowed into Europe whenever and wherever they want.
Another interesting development at the other end of Europe is the election of the first Muslim mayor of a major European capital. In London, Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, is taking over from conservative Boris Johnson, presiding over one of the world’s greatest financial centers.
By the looks of things, Europe is not going to put up a fight against the latest Muslim invasion.
At the same time, the London Stock Exchange is coming under German control. Even if the UK votes to leave the EU, that won’t change – the country will still lose a great deal of its independence.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, in calling for Britain to remain in the EU, expressed the opinion today that whenever Britain withdraws from Europe, it leads to war. This is a perverse interpretation of British history. As one commentator put it on the BBC World Service this morning, “He’s got it the wrong way round.”
Britain maintained its distance from Europe after the country broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. The country chose the open sea over the neighboring continental land-mass and only got involved in European affairs when a dictator arose trying to conquer the continent. Wars were fought against Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler.
It wasn’t until 1973 that this policy changed, when the country entered what became the EU and turned its back on the Commonwealth it had built up over centuries.
Meanwhile, on the mainland, changes are taking place.
The Austrian Chancellor (prime minister) resigned today, as he no longer enjoyed the support of his party, the Social Democrats.
His resignation follows on the partial victory of the right-wing Freedom Party’s candidate for the role of president, largely a ceremonial role. There is to be a second round of voting which is expected to assure his assuming office.
Austria, like a number of European countries, is in a state of turmoil following the arrival of well over a million “refugees” from Syria and other countries. There is a growing fear of Islamization. Extremist parties are gaining momentum, promising to do something to stop the invasion and to ensure the preservation of their national way of life.
It’s definitely a year of change for Europe.
A Brexit (British exit from the EU) could trigger off changes across the continent. The EU itself may fall apart; the unity of the United Kingdom could be threatened; David Cameron would likely have to resign; other countries might want to vote on withdrawing from the European Union.
A final amusing note comes from Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the Governor-General (Queen Elizabeth’s representative in the country) to disband parliament before an election in two months. Two months of campaigning will be a record for Australia – and people are complaining.
They should take note that their American allies have been going through an election for almost a year now and still have six months to go.