The Emergence of Turkey as a European Country in light of Ottoman-Habsburg Relations, Vienna, 23 November 1999


in light of


                                                                      Vienna, 23 November 1999


            The Ottoman State played a major role in the shaping of the history of Europe and especially of the Balkans throughout the last six centuries. Habsburg Austria has a special place in the relations of the Ottomans with Europe, because Austria is the country with whom the Ottomans had the most intensive interaction.

 In the first part of my lecture, I will briefly discuss selected events in the Ottoman-Habsburg relations. In the second part, I will discuss the other parameters that contributed to the emergence of Turkey as a European country.

 Turkey’s relations with Europe were not, of course, confined to its relations with Austria. Other countries, such as France, Britain, Venice, Spain and the Holy See, had also an important place in the foreign relations of the Ottoman State and in its drive towards modernization. But in view of the fact that this lecture is delivered in Austria, I thought that expanding on Ottomans’ relations with all European countries could be boring for the audience.  Therefore, I confined the scope of the first part of my lecture to a summary of selected events in the Ottoman-Habsburg relations.


The Battle of Kossovo (1389)

Austria was not involved directly in the Battle of Kossovo. This battle was fought between the Ottomans on the one side, and the Serbs, Bosnians, Herzegovinians and Albanians on the other. Therefore, the consequences of the battle affected directly the belligerent countries, but it also affected Austria, though to a lesser extent, because the battle changed fundamentally the balance of power in the Balkans. Before the battle, the predominant power in the Balkans was Serbia. After the battle, Ottomans became predominant for five centuries to come.

The Battle of Niğbolu (Nicopolis) (1396)

The very first reference to the presence of Austrian soldiers in a war against the Ottomans is in the Battle of Nicopolis. This battle was fought in 1396 between the

Ottoman Sultan Bayazit I and King Sigismund of Hungary. Sigismund was supported in this war by a big coalition of various countries including France, Britain, Wallachia, Nürnberg, Styria and other small princedoms. The Styrian knights participated in the battle under the command of Count Hermann von Cilly. Hammer mentions in his monumental book on the history of Ottoman State that “All of the Bavarian knights and majority of Austrian knights died honourably while defending their banners”.[1]

            Among the reasons for the victory of the Ottoman army in the Battle of Nicopolis is also the betrayal of some commanders on the Hungarian side. Stephan Lascowitz who was commanding a Hungarian detachment and Prince Mintze who was commanding the Wallachian army changed the side in the middle of the battle and joined the Ottoman army when they saw that the French legions were beaten. It is worth noting that a Hungarian commander is betraying his own King in a war against the Ottomans.

            Another factor contributing to the victory of the Ottoman army was the support provided by the new King of Serbia. Actually, the fate of the battle changed in favour of the Ottomans when the new King of Serbia who had signed an alliance with Bayazit, arrived in time to help the Ottomans.[2] This same Serbian army had fought and lost a ferocious battle against the Ottomans seven years earlier in Kossovo.

These two details indicate that, as usual, the direct interests of Kings or Princes prevailed sometimes over the broader ideals of defending Christianity and the Ottomans benefited from time to time from the support of one or other Christian State in the region in their fight against another Christian State. One may even say that an important factor that facilitated the Ottoman expansion in the Balkans was the inter-sectarian conflicts among Christian Kings.

The number of prisoners captured during the Battle of Nicopolis was above 10,000. Count of Nevers, the cousin of King Charles VI of France, and 300 members of French and German nobility were among the prisoners. The noble prisoners were taken to Bursa in order to be released in exchange of big sums of money. Remaining 10,000 were either sent to serve in various Ottoman castles or sold in slave markets or sent as a gift to various friendly Heads of States.[3]   Both Ottomans and Austrians used to treat their prisoners as slaves.[4]

            Another set of prisoners was captured in Styria. Because, after the victory, the Ottoman army walked to Styria and brought back 16,000 prisoners taken from the civilian population. Hammer says that there is not mention of these prisoners in the Styrian annals.[5] Nevertheless, if we suppose that such an incident has actually taken place, this constitutes the first mixture of Turkish and Austrian population. I have no information about the fate of these 16,000 Austrians. Since they seem to be civilian population, it is less likely that they were killed. A most likely scenario is that they were brought either to Istanbul or to other provinces of the Ottoman State and sold as slaves. They may also have been  given as  slaves  to Ottoman  notables. Some of them may have been bought back either in exchange of a ransom or as a result of negotiations and returned home.

No matter which scenario is true, we may assume that at least several thousands Austrians may have mixed with the Ottoman population as a result of the Battle of Nicopolis.

During the subsequent wars or skirmishes, both sides resorted extensively to this practice of capturing prisoners.

            I will mention later in this lecture other cases of prisoners captured by Ottomans or Austrians during various military campaigns, because this is a factor which contributed to the racial mixing of Ottomans with Balkan peoples and Austrians.

       3. The Conquest of Istanbul (1453)

The conquest of Istanbul by the Turks in 1453 is another major milestone in the history of the Ottoman Empire, perhaps the most important one. This is an epoch making event that puts an end to Byzance and to the Middle Ages.

But since this important event has only indirect impact on the Ottoman-Habsburg relations I will not dwell on it.

       4. The Second Siege of Belgrade (1456)

I woul like to say a few words about the Second Siege of Belgrade because of its importance for Austria.

There is a statue at Stephansplatz commemorating this event. The inquisitor Dominican monk Giovanni Capistrano who was sent to Austria to root out heresy, changed his task and found out that his preaching talents could be more useful to recruit soldiers against Turks.[6] This statue of Capistrano on the outer wall of the Stephandsdom depicts Capistrano tramping Turkish soldiers under his feet. This is the place where Capistrano used to preach in 1451.[7] He participated personally in the battle of Belgrade at the head of a small auxiliary army composed of Austrian fidels that he was able to recruit at the Stephansplatz preaching in Latin (!). Capistrano made a valuable contribution to force the Ottoman army to lift the siege of Belgrade, when, barefooted and with a cross in his hand, convinced his untrained soldiers not to give up against the Ottoman army.[8]

   This withdrawal of the Ottomans was received at that time by the Christian world as such a big victory that Capistrano was later canonized because of his valiancy in Belgrade and Pope Calixtus III issued in 1456 a papal decree ordering the Christian world to toll the bells of churches for an extended period on 22 July of every in commemoration of this important event. This practice is maintained until today.

The Second Siege of Belgrade, which is so veneered in the Christian world, is referred to in the Ottoman annals as a setback of minor importance that delayed the conquest of Belgrade only for 65 years.

            The Battle of Mohacs

The battle of Mohacs is a very important event both in the history of Ottomans and Habsburgs. The battle put an end to the 637 years old Hungarian Kingdom. “There is no other battle in the history, except Mohacs, where the independence of a nation is suspended for several centuries as a result of one single battle.”[9]   Hammer makes an exaggerated estimate and says that 200,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed in Mohacs.[10]

Among other consequences, this military victory of the Ottomans had also brought, paradoxically, territorial gains to Austria. Because when King Loyos (Louis) II of Hungary was killed during the battle, Archduke Ferdinand claimed the Hungarian territories in accordance with the agreements that he signed in 1521 and 1522 with Karl V, which provided that Karl V was desisting from his rights on the Hungarian and Austrian thrones in favour of Ferdinand.[11]

The Hungarian territories that were not occupied by the Ottomans after Mohacs were Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.

The history of Ottoman-Habsburg relations after Mohacs is rich in territorial claims and counter-claims in the remaining three quarters of the 16th century. Because the Ottomans believed that when they defeated the Hungarian King Loyos in Mohacs, all territories that belonged to Loyos became automatically Ottoman territory. Whereas Archduke Ferdinand thought that, with the passing away of King Loyos, Hungarian territories should go to him in his capacity as the vassal of the late King.

Hammer mentions that the number of prisoners brought back by the Ottoman army from the Mohacs expedition was close to 100,000. They included men and women of all ages and Jews expelled from Ofen (Buda).[12]

  6.       The First Siege of Vienna (1529)

The first Siege of Vienna by Turks is the very first unsuccessful military engagement undertaken by Suleiman the Magnificent. Austrians draw a well-deserved pride of this event. Turkish historians refer to this siege only as an expedition of minor importance.

A letter sent on the day of the lifting of the siege by Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha to the military commander of Vienna, reads as follows:

            “…We did not come here to capture your city. We came to defeat your Archduke. Not finding him here, we wasted several days. Yesterday, we released three of your prisoners. As you have informed us through your messenger, we expect you to reciprocate in a similar manner. You may send an official with a view to counting the prisoners that we are holding…

            Done in front of the walls of Vienna in mid-September (1529)”.[13]

The subsequent year, in 1530, Archduke Ferdinand sent a big delegation to Istanbul to negotiate peace. Grand Vizier Ibrahim repeated the reasons of the siege in similar words. He said:

“The Sultan started the military expedition in order to search for Ferdinand. Since he could not find him in Budin (Budapest), he went to the beautiful city of Vienna that deserves to be a capital more than Budin. But Ferdinand has always escaped in front of the victorious Ottoman armies.

The Sultan decided to send raiders to Germany in order to teach Ferdinand who the Emperor is. To prove that he did not go to conquer the country but for a walk, he caused minor damages to the fortresses in order to leave traces of his visit.

Since Ferdinand has no other title any longer apart from being the Governor of Vienna of the Spanish King and that he does not have any right on Hungary, the Sultan decided to crown his servant Yanos as King of Hungary.”[14]

I would like to mention here again the number of prisoners. Hammer says that  “ Johann Kazianer, Paul Bakitch, Sigismund and Weixelberger attacked the rearguards of  the retreating Ottoman army and captured certain number of prisoners, horses and camels.”

The contemporary historians point out that the number of prisoners captured by the Austrians in this military clash was more than 10,000.[15]

Regarding the number of prisoners captured by the Ottomans, Hammer says that “the Christians suffered a loss of 20,000 people as dead or prisoners”.[16]Since the causalities were not very high, one may assume that the majority of these 20,000 people were civilians.

        7. The Period of Minor Conflicts and Renewed Truces

The period of 77 years from the First Siege of Vienna to the signing of the Zsitvatorok Treaty in 1606 is a period of minor clashes and renewed truces. I will not dwell on every single one of these eight conflicts and seven renewed truces or peace accords. I will not even mention their date. Because, short analyses of these conflicts will not make meaningful contribution to the purpose of this lecture. A long analysis of each of them will exceed the scope of my lecture.

I will, therefore, confine my remarks to point out that these minor clashes caused varying degrees of military and territorial losses to both sides, but contributed, on the other hand, to a better acquaintance between the two sides. They learned merits and weaknesses of the other side. They both captured prisoners and these prisoners must have become, later, part of the population of the country where they ultimately settled down. The number of prisoners captured during this period of 77 years must have amounted to several hundreds of thousands.

The Ottomans exchanged several delegations with the Habsburgs to negotiate peace accords.

This period is, at the same time, a period when the strength of the Ottoman State reached its zenith.

       8.  Zsitvatorok Treaty (1606)

The last decade of the 16th century and the early years of the 17th century could be described, in the Ottoman-Habsburg relations, as a period of protracted clashes and peace negotiations. In most of these clashes, Ottomans achieved several military gains, but because of the fact that they needed peace in order to focus their military efforts on the Persian front, they insinuated their readiness to sign a peace treaty with Austria.

The negotiations were conducted between the Ottoman Governor of Budin and the envoys of the Emperor Rudolf II.  The Treaty is signed in Zsitvatorok in 1606. It put an end to the state of war that prevailed between the Ottomans and the Austrians since 13 years. It was going to remain in force for 20 years. It also put an end to the payment of the yearly tribute by Austria. The Emperor Rudolf was insistent on doing away with these provisions that were agreed in 1547 truce. It was giving the impression that Austria was a vassal of the Ottoman Empire. These provisions were annoying the Emperor more than ceding to Turks one part of his territories.[17]

            The Sultan recognized with this treaty that the Austrian Emperor was in equal status with him. This was a recognition denied for more than 150 years. The Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II used to claim that the holder of the crown of the Roman Empire was the Byzantine Emperor. The conquest of Istanbul by Turks put an end to Byzance and transferred the right to the Byzantine (Roman) crown to the Ottoman Sultans. This reasoning was also adopted even with further emphasis by Sultan Suleiman II the Magnificent. As a result of this, Charles Quint was the only person regarded as a King, and Ferdinand was referred to as “Charles Quint’s Governor of Vienna”. In the Ottoman State protocol, the Austrian Emperor was considered as equal to the Grand Vizier and not to the Sultan.  The Zsitvatorok Treaty was putting an end to this practice.

            After the signature of the Zsitvatorok Treaty in 1606, the relations between Ottomans and Habsburgs remained comparatively peaceful for about 60 years, because Ottomans were militarily more active in the East, towards Persia, and Austria was engaged in the War of Thirty Years  (1618-1648). This time, the Ottomans did not seek to take advantage of the conflicts among European countries.[18]

This Treaty, together with two other agreements signed later in Vienna and in Komarom, was renewed on 13 September 1627 for another 25 years.[19]

       9 . The Second Siege Of Vienna (1683)

The most important milestone in the Ottoman-Habsburg relations is, of course, the Second Siege of Vienna.

At the time of the siege, Austria was not yet the big empire that it has become later. One historian says that “because of certain geostrategic and political reasons, Austria could not rise to the stature of an average European power until the close of the 17th century”.[20]

a) The Prelude to the Siege

The study of the period preceding the Second Siege of Vienna indicates that Austria had problems not only with Turks but also with Hungary, France and to a lesser degree with Poland.

The problem with Hungary was that Count Imre Thököly was leading, since 1678, a popular uprising in Hungary against Austria. In 1680s, Thököly thought that the most sustained support to his fight against Austria could come from the Ottomans.

He, therefore, sent on 9 January 1682 an envoy to Istanbul to inform the Sultan that he did not want any longer to recognize the Austrian rule and that he wanted to be supported by the Ottoman State. In his letter to the Sultan, he wrote:

    “… the aggression perpetrated by the Austrians exceeded all limits. They used female members of our families     as     prostitutes in frontof our eyes, forcing us to hold their head. We prefer to die rather than witnessing this. So, you should move right away by informing us as soon as possible.”[21] 

 The Sultan agreed to fulfill the wish of Thököly and proclaimed him as “King of middle Hungary” in exchange of 500,000 forints to be paid by Thököly every year as a tribute to the Ottoman State.

Thököly got engraved in Turkish, in his official seal the following verses that rhyme in their Turkish version:

     I am an appointee of the Sublime Ottoman (State) and ready to take order (from it)

    I am King of Middle Hungary and my name is “Imre Thököly”.[22]

The problem with France was the support that it was extending to Count Thököly. Furthermore, Emperor Leopold did not trust that his cousin Louis XIV would support him in case of a clash with the Ottomans.

Actually, upon the pressure by the Pope, France had to agree, at a later stage, to support Austria with soldiers and money. But Emperor Leopold I thought that receiving assistance from France would undermine the prestige of the Holy Roman Empire. However, this gesture was sufficient for Austria to regard France as a neutral country in case of a military confrontation with the Ottomans.

In August 1682, the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha received the French Resident in Istanbul. Several historians believe that it was during this meeting that the Ottoman Grand Vizier was convinced to launch the Austrian compaign. Because, the French Resident pointed out to Kara Mustafa Pasha that France had a commitment only to Poland in case of an Ottoman attack against this country (insinuating that, if Ottomans attacked Austria, it had no commitment to support the Holy Roman Empire).[23]

 The problem with Poland was not with the Kingdom itself. On the contrary, the King was very much in favour of military assistance to be provided to Austria. The problem was with a group in the Polish parliament (Diet) that was against an alliance with Austria. The reason for this opposition was a French lobby in Poland which regarded Austria as a potential enemy of France.

The count down for the siege of Vienna started with the appointment of the Count Thölköly as the King of the Middle Hungary. It was the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha who convinced the Sultan to this appointment.[24]Kara Mustafa Pasha was aware of the possible consequence of such an action by the Ottomans, because the Emperor used to regard Hungary as a part of the territory of the Holy Roman Empire.

Kara Mustafa Pasha did not stop there. He sent an army to Kosice (Kaschau), in the east of the present Slovak Republic, and occupied the town. He knew that Emperor Leopold would not admit such an incursion, but he seems to have taken this step as a calculated risk.

 The occupation of Kosice meant that the Ottomans refused the peace terms proposed by Austria for the extension for 20 years of the truce signed in 1664.

These developments indicated that a war between the Ottomans and Austria was looming ahead. Count Caprara, Austrian Resident in Istanbul, wrote to his capital that the following year, the Ottomans intended to attack Habsburg territory.

Despite this warning, the War Council in Vienna was still giving priority to the threat coming from France. In fact, the very first agreement signed in this period was not directed to the Ottomans but to France. It was signed in January 1683 with Duke Ernst August von Braunscweig-Luneburg and the Duke was promising by this agreement to make available to the Austrian Emperor 20,000 soldiers in exchange of 50,000 talers per month, in case of a war with France.

Count Schwarzenberg, President of the Reichshofrat, had difficulties to convince the other members of the Hofkriegsrat that the Ottoman threat was more real and imminent than any other threat.

  The first agreement signed by Austria against the Ottomans was signed with the vassals of Austria within the Holy Roman Empire. It was signed on 26 January with the Bavarian Kurfürst (elector) Maximilian II Emanuel. The agreement provided that Bavaria would enter the war against the Ottomans with 10,000 soldiers in exchange of 400,000 gulden to be paid annually by Leopold I.

Pope Innocent XI made strenuous efforts to mobilize the European countries to extend financial assistance to the Christian countries threatened by the Ottomans. But the response was not as generous as expected. Only a limited number of countries responded Pope’s appeals.[25] They include Spain, Portugal and a few Italian States. Anti-Ottoman feelings do not seem to be widespread in Europe towards the end of the 17th century.

            The only generous assistance came from the Pope. By August 1683, Jan III Sobieski received 500,000 gulden and Emperor Leopold 1,000,000 gulden.[26]

            Pope wanted to mobilize as well Shiite Persia to wage war against the Sunni Ottomans. Persia did not show any interest in antagonizing the Ottomans.

            Furthermore, Austria did not take initiavite to look outside the Holy Roman Empire. It was King Jan III Sobieski who proposed to Austria to make an alliance against the Ottomans while the most imminent threat by the Ottomans was directed at that time to Austria and not to Poland.

            Austria was more inclined to remain in defensive posture rahter than becoming the party that actually started the war with Ottomans. This is the expression of a feeling that prevailed in many European capitals that, unless attacked by the Ottomans, It would be preferable not to provoke any military action by them which was generally difficult to win against the mighty Ottoman army.

            b) The Siege

            The Ottoman army moved on 1 April 1683 from Edirne to Belgrade. The Sultan stayed in Belgrade and continued his favoured pastime, hunting. King Louis XIV of France, having guessed that the Ottoman army was heading towards Vienna, stopped immediately the clashes on the Rhein front with Austria and informed the Emperor Rudolf II that he may recall his armies from the Rhein front to be used against the Ottomans. He even promised the Emperor that if the Ottomans go further west than Raab (Györ), he would be sending French armies to help the Austrians.

            The Ottoman army arrived on 26 June 1683 in Szekesfehervar (Stuhlweissenburg) North-East of lake Balaton. The decision to besiege Vienna was taken on 27 June 1683 in the War Council held in this city. Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha and Reis-ül küttab (Minister of Foreign Affairs) were in favour of the Siege. The other members were either reluctant or opposed to the siege. The Grand Vizier made the decision to besiege Vienna by antagonizing the Khan of Crimean Tatars who took revenge of this attitude on 10 September 1683, by letting deliberately the Polish and Bavarian forces cross the Danube bridge and join the Saxon and Austrians regiments.

            The Sultan was informed of this decision only on 18 July, that is to say 20 days after the decision was made. The Sultan reacted in resigned words: “If I had known it beforehand, I would not have allowed.”[27]

Count Thököly joined Ottoman armies on their way to Vienna. Transilvanian, Modovian and Wallachian troops also joined the Ottomans as well as the Crimean Tatar forces. At the beginning of July 1683, Ottoman forces had already reached the vicinity of Vienna, earlier than expected by Duke von Lotringen, Commander of the Imperial army. On 7 June, Crimean army defeated the advance guards of the Austrian army that was on its way to Vienna. When the news arrived in Vienna that the Ottoman army was advancing rapidly, this caused a big confusion in the capital. The Emperor left the command of the Vienna to Count Rüdiger von Starhemberg and moved to Linz with his family and entourage. Vienneses staying in the city shouted behind him: “Where are you going, leaving us behind here?”[28]

The siege lasted two months with minor successes and failures on both sides.

The Mayor of Vienna, Andreas von Liebenberg and the bigoted bishop (later cardinal) Count Kollonitsch, organized an excellent resistance by gathering the support of every capable person living in Vienna. Students were organized under their Rectors.

 Because of the betrayal of the Criemean Tatars and timely arrival of the military assistance from Poland under the command of King Jan III Sobieski, the Ottoman army suffered a defeat at the end of the 60th day of the siege and had to lift the siege and withdraw. This defeat constituted a turning point in the history of the Ottoman State and the history of Europe.

The number of the Austrian prisoners brought back by the Ottoman army is 81,000. The ones released after the defeat of the Ottoman army is not included in this figure. 6,000 of the prisoners were male teenagers, 14,000 female teenagers, 11,000 young women and the remaining 50,000 were men and women between 20 and 30 years old.[29] The total number of prisoners, including those who had to be released, is estimated to be well above 100,000.

c) The Aftermath of the Siege and the Battle of Zenta

The defeat of the Ottoman army in Vienna constituted the begininig of other defeats in buda (1686), Mohacs (1687) and more decisive defeat in Zenta (1695).

Prince Eugene de Savoy who had participated, as a young officer, in the defense of Vienna in 1683, won a brilliant military victory in Zenta in 1695. The Emperor had given a clear instruction to Prince Eugene to remain in a defensive position against the Ottomans and not to take initiative to attack them.

However, driven by his own military genius rather then the instructions of the Emperor, he attacked the Ottoman army when half of the army had already crossed a bridge on the river Zisza in Zenta (Senta, in the North of Voyvodina), while the other half was still on the eastern bank of the river and he inflicted a decisive defeat on the Ottoman army.

            One month after his victory in Zenta, Prince Eugene walked with his army on 17 October 1695 to Sarajevo that was not a fortified town because it was located deep in the Ottoman territory, far from the frontiers. Furthermore, the governor of the city had passed away and the new governor had not yet arrived. When, the day after his arrival, Prince Eugene received news that an Ottoman army was on its way towards Sarajevo, he withdrew, after having burned down in one day 120 mosques in Sarajevo out of 177 that existed in the town at that time.[30]

    10.   The Treaty of Karlowitz

            A treaty signed in Karlowitz in 1699 put an end to the state of war that prevailed between the Ottomans and Austria since 15 years, acutally since the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683. The Ottomans had to cede Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Transilvania to the Austrian Empire. This treaty has also put an end to the image of invincibility of Ottoman armies. It was now demonstrated that territories captured by the Ottomans could be taken back. Karlowitz is considered the begining of stagnation period in the Ottoman history.

            As a result of the hand over of Hungary to Austria, 1,400 families of Hungarian nobility decided to escape the Austrian rule and to settle down in Turkey. A palace is put at the disposal of Imre Thököly in Izmit, a small town near Istanbul.[31]

             One of the big losers in Karlowitz was Hungary. Because the provinces where Hungarians were in majority, were distributed to various States. As a result of this, in the subsequent decades and centuries, the population balance evolved in these places to the detriment of Hungarians. When a new political map was drawn in the Balkans and East Europe, historical Hungary was reduced to what it is at present and it is surrounded in all sides by territories belonging to other countries but inhabited by ethnic Hungarian minorities.

                                                                                                                                                                                     11. Petervaradin and Passarowitz (1718)

            When the tide turned against the Ottomans, the Austrian Commander in Chief, Prince Eugene, knew how to benefit from it. He defeated the Ottoman army on 5 August 1716, captured Timeshwar on 20 October 1716 and Belgrade on 17 August 1717. Austria kept Belgrade in its hands for 22 years.

            Prince Eugene thought that it would be preferable to sign a peace treaty with the Ottomans, now that Austria was in a position of strength rather than continuing its military expeditions and face the risks of setbacks.

The peace treaty is signed in 1718 in Passarowitz. The Treaty was leaving Belgrade and Timeshwar to Austria and first badge of Ottoman refugees started to flow towards Istanbul and inner provinces of the Ottoman State. This is the turning point of a tide of emigration that started in the early decades of the 14th century and that brought Turks from Anatolia towards the Balkans. This influx of Turks towards the Balkans lasted roughly 400 years. The counter-tide that started in 1718 with the Passarowitz treaty forced the Turks to go back towards Anatolia. It also forced to emigrate towards Turkey the indigenous peoples of the Balkans who had adopted Islam during the Ottoman rule. As we have seen in the case of the recent Bosnian crisis, this counter-tide is still going on since 250 years.

            The Passarowitz Treaty is also the begining of a more sound peace between the Ottomans and Austria. Because of various major and minor clashes in the previous decades and centuries, these two major powers came to know each other better and to appreciate each other both as an enemy and as a friend.

            One of the effects of this mutual respect is brought to our attention in the Jewish museum in Dorotheergasse 11 in Vienna. An explanatory plate in the museum says that, while the Ashkenazi (East European) Jews were being persecuted in Austria, the Sephardic Jews were able to avoid the persecution, because Sephardic Jews had preserved their Ottoman citizenship when the territories they used to live in the Balkans, were handed over by the Ottomans to Austria. And according to the Ottoman-Austrian Peace Treaty, each party was committing itself to protect the rights of the citizens of the other party living in its own territory. As a result of this provision in the peace treaty, Jews who were Ottoman citizens were spared while Jews who were Austrian citizens, were persecuted.[32]

             This incident indicates on the other hand, how the Austrian authorities at that time valued their commitments towards the Ottomans.

      12. Ottoman-Austrian War of 1737 and the Treaty of Belgrade

            When the Ottoman army defeated the Russians in the Turkish-Russian war of 1736, the Austrian army entered the armed conflict with the Ottomans by sending its armies to Bosnia, Serbia and Wallachia, according to the terms of an alliance signed between Austria and Russia. Ottoman armies defeated Austrian armies in Bosnia and in Belgrade and proved that Ottoman State was still powerful.

      13. Ottoman-Austrian War of 1788

            Five months after the Ottoman-Russian war of 1787 started, Austria declared war to the Ottomans. This was an unpleasant surprise for the Ottomans who believed that Austria would not dare declare war to the Ottomans while the Prussian threat was still on.

            The peace, which was established by the Belgrade Treaty, came thus to an end after almost half a century. This war that lasted three years in various fronts, became the last war fought between the Ottomans and the Austrians. Austria lost the war fought in 1788 in Karlsburg in Transilvania. The Ottoman army brought back to Istanbul 50,000 prisoners. But three years later, Austrian armies under the command of the Prince of Sachsen-Coburg, joined Russian armies that attacked Wallachia and defeated Ottoman armies before it was defeated nine months later in Yerköy near Ruscuk on the Danube. 1,000 of his soldiers were made prisoners by the Ottoman army.

            The Treaty of Zishtovi, signed in 1791, provided that all territories captured during these last battles were going to be returned to their original owners.

      14. The Treaty of Berlin (1878)

           The Treaty of Berlin is signed at the end of Ottoman-Russian War and Austria   was not a party to this war. However, Austria benefited from this Treaty since it provided that the sovereignty of Bosnia-Herzegovina be handed over to Austria but be administered by an Ottoman Governor. Because Serbs in Bosnia wanted to join Serbia and Bosnians wanted to remain part of the Ottoman State.

            In 1908, Austria declared that it annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ottoman State had no other choice but to accept this decision.

            In 1914, Ottomans and Austrians were part of an axis formed against the alliance of France, Britain and Russia.

      15. Interaction between the Ottomans and the Austrians

            The wars referred to in this chapter on a selective basis and innumerable other clashes, skirmishes, and trade or other types of human contacts which have taken place, together with other major and minor battles between the Ottomans and Austrians during the Ottoman presence in the Balkans, played an important role in the shaping of the history of the Balkans, of Austria, and, to a lesser extent, of the entire Europe.

            For instance the first battle of Kossovo fought in 1389 was not a battle between the Ottomans and the Austrians but it had determining effects on the histories of both of these two countries as well as on the history of the entire Balkan region.

This battle allowed the Ottomans to maintain a strong presence in the Balkans for the subsequent five centuries. During this relatively long period the Balkans lived under an alien (Ottoman) rule, that is true, but the peoples of the Balkans benefited also from the advantages of being the citizens of a powerful single State. This meant relative political stability.

            To better assess the value of this stability, we may compare the period of the Ottoman rule in the Balkans to the period of constant turmoil that prevails in the same region since the withdrawal of the Ottomans from the Balkans at the beginning of this century.

            Furthermore, the Ottoman rule bought together with it, economic advantages for the people of the region who could travel without passport and carry out commercial activities without border formalities in a vast territory that stretched from Budapast to Yemen and from Chechnya to Algeria. This geographical area corresponds roughly to one and half time the size of the present European Union.

            The religious freedom enjoyed by the Ottoman subjects also contributed to the preservation of the sects and religions of various communities in the Balkans.To better judge whether the Ottomans were tolerant on religious issues, one has to remember that if the Ottomans were to use force to convert their Christian subjects into Islam, they had the means to do it. It would have been difficult for an outside force to stop them from doing so, especially during the period when the Ottoman military might remained difficult to challenge for several centuries.

            A recent incident in Kossovo is an interesting reminder of this tolerance. When the Turkish military units moved into Kossovo in June 1999 within the framework of K-FOR, the bishop of one monastery near Pristine handed over to the commander of the Turkish unit the copy of an Ottoman firman (imperial decree) by which Sultan Fatih Mehmet II was granting to an orthodox community in Kossovo the freedom to practice their religion.

            If many communities in the Balkans, some of whom have now become indepentent States, could preserve their religion and language, the contribution of the Ottoman administration to this preservation should be recognized in all fairness. This is another point that has to be taken into consideration when we refer to the Ottoman contribution to the shaping of the present-day-Europe.

            Second important effect of the wars between the Ottomans and the Austrians is the question of prisoners. Taking prisoners in a war has always been a widely practiced tradition since times immemorial. During innumerable battles and skirmishes that took place between the Ottomans and the Austrians, both sides captured prisoners. I do not know whether there are scholarly researches carried out to make more sound estimates regarding the number of the fate of civilian and military prisoners captured by both sides during the centuries-old history of wars between Ottomans and Austrians. I mentioned, in this lecture, only the figures that I came across during my readings on the Ottoman-Habsburg relations.

What did these civilian and military people become? Many may have perished, because we may presume that they were not provided with even a minimum of comfort. Harold says that “The plight of the Turkish Muslim prisoners was not different from the plight of Christian prisoners captured by the Ottomans”.[33]

The diary of Osman Aga, which has become almost a classical book in this field, gives a first-hand information of the treatment that the prisoners were subjected to.[34]

Despite their plight we may also presume that many of them, most probably hundreds of thousands, survived and became part of the population of the capturing country.

Harold believes that “many Austrian families are not aware of the fact that their roots are to be found not in Austria but in a small village of former Ottoman territories or in a wide Anatolian valley”.[35]

      He then gives a revealing account of a few such families:

                 “Many Turkish prisoners had to stay in the Imperial (Austrian) army.  Many others were forced to convert into Christianity as the Ottomans used to do and they were baptized with German names. The reason for this was that they would be alienated if they were to keep their original names. Between 1683 and 1699, only in Vienna, 650 Muslims had to change their religion and name.

                     The population of Ofen (Budapest), Weissenburg (Belgrade), Leopoldstadt, Neuchrist (Bessermann), Kreuzberg, Herthelberg, Möhrenberg and a major part of the population of Weixelberg are descendants of Turks. Some of the people who acted as godfather during the baptism of converted Ottoman prisoners were also of the Turkish descent. Many of them became artisans, artists, or traders.  There are among them those who succeeded to enter the “bourgeoisie”. For instance, a Turkish lady by the name of Fatma Kariman, succeeded to become, for years, the favourite mistress of the Kings of Saxony and Poland. The children that she had from both of them were named Count Rutowski. Her daughter was married to Count Bilinnski in exchange of a considerable amount of money.

                        Leopold Joseph Balthasar von Zungaberg, who fought as commander of hussar units during the succession war at the Rhein front comes from a Turkish family. In 1686, Csonkaberg (alias Mehmed Çolak  Beg) was the last defender of the city of Ofen (Buda). He was taken prisoner by the Austrians together with his wife Fatma and their

small children. They were kept under custody for 10 years in Neustadt    Municipality. In 1696, they adopted Christianity. Imperial couple, Leopold and Eleonora Magdalena and their children King Joseph and Princess Elisabeth, assisted personally the Baptism of this family.

                  Çolak Beg (Csonkaberg) received as a gift of baptism a golden decoration, 1,000 talers, some real estate and a nobility title equivalent to “Sir”. His name became Leopold and was appointed commander of Zungaberg. He died in 1704 as the commander of hussards. Leopold Joseph Balthasar von Zungaberg who was promoted to the grade of Marshall as a reward for his success in the Rhein front, was the son of   this Mehmed Çolak Beg. The Çolak Beg family had become faithful servans of the Emperor. They selected Neustadt as their residence. They undertook to cover the expenses of the Leopold Church.

                    35-40 years later, a magnificent baptism was celebrated. The baptism was going to be carried out by the King Karl VI  and Prince  Eugene. The person who was going to be baptized was an Ottoman Imam (Muslim clerical) Mehmed Efendi who was not made prisoner, but was an asylum seeker. It is not known why he wanted to change side. The only      thing that is known is that he had sought asylum in the Carmelite Church in Leopoldstadt. His teachers in Christianity were a Turkish bishop who was baptized beforehand and an Armenian Archbishop.

                       Imam Mehmed changed his religion and became Christian on 24 December 1715. His name became Karl Eugen Leopoldstatter. He started his profession as the first coffee grinder of Vienna…

                                             …(It was decided to melt the cannons abandoned by the retreating Ottoman armies after the second siege of Vienna and to manufacture a bell for the Stephansdom). “The tender to melt the cannons was won by a melting master called Johann Achammer who was the best caster available. The master was well known personally by the King. But the people in the court did not know him. Because he was a Turk. He was baptized as Johann Achammer in St.Leopold Church in 1693…”.[36]

            One may assume that there were tens or hundreds of thousands of other Turks who were integrated into the Austrian population throughout centuries of wars or   other types of contacts.

            As to the Austrians who mixed with Turkish population, their number must perhaps be counted by millions, because even if the number of prisoners were only a few hundreds of thousands in 15th to 18th centuries, the number of their descendants could easily reach several millions in more than a dozen of generations.

            The interaction between the Ottomans and Austrians is not confined to the mixture of population only. It also covered a variety of areas. In almost every district of Vienna one may come across with traces of Turks.

When Turks ceased to constitute a threat, the Austrians have developed a taste for many things that came from Turkey. At the 18th century, the Austrians started to embellish their gardens with minarets and Turkish-style teahouses. It became fashionable for well-off Austrians to decorate one room of their house as a “Turkish corner.” Turkish tobacco, Turkish bath, the Turkish tiles were introduced to the Hofburg Palace and in the Geymuller Palace in Pötzlein. Empress Maria Theresa posed for the painter Jean-Etienne Liotard dressed according to Turkish fashion.[37] Austrians were using as an ornament everything that was Turkish, including the bones of Turks that they killed and skinned. In a card game played in Austria, the Turkish card was always regarded as the strongest card. Turkish coffee was introduced in Austria after the Second Siege of Vienna. Ottoman military music served as a source of inspiration for the “à la Turca” of Mozart and “Turkish March” of Beethoven and Turkish musical motives lured Mozart to compose “The Kidnapping in the Seraglio”. Empress Maria Theresa established in 1754 the present Vienna Diplomatic Academy with a view to teaching Turkish language to Austrian diplomats to be appointed to Istanbul.[38]


The foregoing summary of Turkey’s relations with Austria indicates to what extent Turkey’s and Austria’s histories are interwoven. This observation is valid for the Balkan countries and, to a lesser degree, for other European countries.

            In the present chapter, I will discuss the other parameters that make Turkey a European country. This issue is sometimes confused with the question of Turkey’s application to become a member of the European Union (EU). Turkey’s application to the EU is a highly political issue and it is not directly related to the subject we are discussing here.

            To be a European country is one thing, to be become a member of the European Union is something else. One does not entail necessarily the other. Switzerland and Norway are, for instance, very much European countries, but they are not members of the EU. The EU is a political grouping which is free to set rules for countries that would like to join it.

            What I will discuss here, are geographical, geopolitical, social, historical and cultural factors that link Turkey to Europe.           

Geographical Parameter

The first parameter that makes Turkey a European country is of course the geographical parameter. Turkey spans Europe and Asia. 24,000 square km. of its territory and arround 10 million of its population are in the European continent.

      2.   Geopolitics

Geopolitics is defined as the geography of a country combined with a set of other parameters such as power focuses in the region, sea and land routes, natural resources, demographic stength, constants in the traditional policies followed by the governments, military power, etc..

 I will not dwell on each and every parameter of the geopolitical importance of Turkey for Europe. The titles speak for themselves and all of them link Turkey inextricably to Europe. But one may elaborate a little further on two of these parameters. They are demography and defense.

Demographic dynamism is one of the important parameters of the geopolitics. Turkey has a younger population as compared to other European countries. The population at the age group 0-14 constitutes 16 % of the total population of the country in Germany, 19 % in Austria, and 34.9 % in Turkey.[39] The World Bank estimates that these figures will continue to evolve in favour of Turkey in the coming decades, because of the higher rate of fertility in the younger population. This comparison indicates that there is a high degree of complementarity between dynamically increasing population of Turkey and the stagnating population of other European countries. Because a young population is important for a sustainable economic activity.

Defense is another important parameter of the geopolitics. Turkey is located in a geographical area which nieghbours three major regions of unstability that affects negatively the stability of Europe. These are the Balkans, the Middle East and the Caucasus. One way or another, Turkey is more directly linked to these regions than any other European country. In view of the size of Turkey’s military force, geographical closeness and historical and other links of Turkey to the countries of these three regions, Turkey’s contribution to the of European interests in these    regions cannot be easily substituted by another country.

       3.  Demographic Structure of the Ottoman State

A closer examination of the demographic structure Ottoman State will show that there are several historical links between the population of Ottoman State and Europe.

The population of the Ottoman State has always been a mosaic of races, religions and cultures, not only in the Balkans or Middle Eastern territories of the State, but also in Anatolia that is regarded as the heartland of the State.

The present population of Turkey is composed of four main components:

  • Pre-Seljuk and Pre-Ottoman populations of Anatolia
  • Turks who came to Anatolia in various waves of migrations
  • Descendants of devşirme’s (children of Christian families raised according        Islam tradition)
  • Population of Balkan countries who adopted Islam under the Ottoman rule and who immigrated to Anatolia after the territories where they were living was lost by the Ottoman State.

Turkish being the official language of the country since 1215 in Seljuk times, the population of Anatolia, and later the population of territories occupied by the Ottomans started to speak Turkish. As a result of this, a cultural affinity evolved throughout centuries in territories that were part of the Ottoman State.

For the foregoing reasons, there is a bigger similarity between the Turks and the peoples of the Balkan countries than between Balkan peoples and the peoples of other European countries.

Historical Links of Turkey with Europe

This subject was discussed in a more detailed manner in the first part of this lecture. Because of the title of the lecture, it was only natural to put the Ottoman-Habsburg relations at the beginning of the text. On the other hand, since the historical links of Turkey with Europe is one of the essential parameters that make Turkey a European country, I kept this title here as well.

Herold summarizes the effects of these wars in an excellent manner with the following few words: “(As a result of these wars) Territories, cultures, traditions, languages and finally the population mixed with each other.”[40]

Modernization Efforts in Turkey since Ottoman Times

The modernization efforts in (the Ottoman) Turkey date back to the 18th century. The contacts with Western societies ushered in the need for a modernization in all fields.

There is a tendency to believe that the need for modernization in the Ottoman State started in the military field. This is true to great extent. When the expansion of the Empire started to falter first and to decline later, progressist high officials

pondered on the reasons for this decline and they thought that Ottoman army needed to be modernized. But the fact that very first tangible achievements in the modernization efforts surfaced in the civilian (social) life indicate that, not only the army but the entire civilian society was eager to modernize itself.

a)      The “Tulip Era” (Lale Devri)

The so-called “Tulip Era”, for instance, is an attempt to introduce the sophisticated Western way of life into the Turkish society with music, literature, architecture, poetry, and other fields of art. There is no doubt that Viennese way of life, among others, might have constituted a source of inspiration. Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha, who is the principal figure providing incentive and support to this new way of life was in touch with Austrians when he was serving in the Ottoman army in Petervaradin during the war against the Austrian army under the command of Prince Eugene of Savoy.

“Tulip Era” shows that the need for modernization was not confined to military field and did not stem from military requirements only. As we will see later, subsequent modernization efforts covered civilian fields in addition to military field.

b)      Nizam-i Cedid (The New -Military- Order)

If the modernization efforts in the military field gained importance, it was due to the fact that outdated military establishment of janissaries constituted an impediment for modernization initiatives. Therefore, the Ottoman modernists were led to the conclusion that the reforms should start from the military establishment.

In fact, towards the end of the XVIII century, Sultan Selim III, himself a refined music-lover and composer, introduced Nizam-ı Cedid (the New Order) in the army to counterbalance the inadequacies of the janissary establishment. This was not only the creation of a new class of soldiers. It was also meant to substitute the janissaries and thus remove a major obstacle for future reforms. The importance of the establishment of “Nizam-ı Cedid” is that it is the very first reformist movement carried out outside Europe, inspired by the European institutions. One of the reformist viziers who suggested the Sultan to carry out the “Nizam-ı Cedid” reform was the Foreign Minister Ratib Efendi. He had served earlier as Ottoman Ambassador in Vienna and Baron Von Hammer provided many useful advices to the Ambassador in drawing up his suggestions to the Sultan.

c)      Abolition of the Institution of Janissaries

The modernization efforts continued in the XIX century, under Sultan Mahmud II, with the abolition of the institution of janissaries in 1826 and the introduction of several military social and administrative reforms. Halil Rifat Pasha who was appointed as Admiral of the Ottoman fleet, had served as Ambassador in Petersburg. Most probably having observed closely how Russia grew to become a

major power, he became also a dedicated reformer and told the Sultan that “If we do not make an effort to resemble Europe, we will have to withdraw to Asia”.[41]

            Sultan Mahmud’s reforms covered also administrative field. The Ministries are organized according to Western counterparts. The administration of the palace is also organized like the properly functioning Western models. The foundations of a modern Council of Ministers (Government) are laid. The elder brother of famous composer Donizetti is invited to Istanbul and entrusted with the task of establishing “The Imperial Musical School”. The turban was outlawed,  fez (tarbush) was made compulsory for public servants. European dress is introduced and people were encouraged to be dressed according to European fashion.

d)     Tanzimat (Reforms)

Tanzimat which, itself, means “reforms”, is the first comprehensive and radical reform in political, social and administrative fields in the Ottoman history. It was under preparation since several years but it was the Grand Vizier Mustafa Rashid Pasha, former Ottoman Ambassador to London, who gave the final touches to the Reforms. One may conclude therefore that it was inspired by Europe.

Tanzimat reform covered a multitude of fields, such as basic human rights, rule of law, administrative restructuring etc.

e)      Islahat

Another initiative taken in 1856 filled the gaps that were identified in the Tanzimat reform. It is called “Islahat” which means “improvement”. But what has been done is “refinement” rather than “improvement”. It was meant to gain the confidence of the European countries.

Citizens were to enjoy equal rights regardless their religion. Christians were allowed to enter schools attended until that time only by Muslim students. On the other hand, privileges accorded to Christians throughout previous centuries were abolished. In the administrative field, the Christians were going to be represented in the provincial city councils proportionally to the size of their community in that city.

It is after this step that (the Ottoman) Turkey was admitted, in 1856, into “concert européen”, that is to say into the community of European States. Turkey was trying to obtain this position since decades. This may be compared to the efforts made today by Turkey to join the European Union.

f)       Constitutional Monarchy

The reforms continued with the introduction of constitutional monarchy in 1876 and with more radical and comprehensive Kemalist reforms after the proclamation of the republic in 1923.

g)      Kemalist Reforms in the Republican Era

Kemalist reforms are the most radical initiatives that have been undertaken in the history of Turkish nation and perhaps in the entire world. The most important ones of these reforms include:

  • the abolition of the Sultanate and the proclamation of the Republic;
  • the abolition of caliphate which corresponded in the Islamic world to the role of the Pope in the Christian world;
  • the adoption of secularism as a constitutional order;
  • the adoption of Latin alphabet to substitute the Arabic alphabet which was used by Turks since more than one thousand years;
  • the adaptation to the Turkish legislation of the civil code of Switzerland, penal code of Italy, and trade law of Germany to substitute sharia law based on Quran;
  • legislative measures to encourange emancipation of women and to give them the right to vote and the right to be elected (There were 18 female deputies in the Turkish Parliament in 1930s)

h)      Ongoing Modernization Efforts

Though not at the scale of Kemalist reforms, the modernization process is still under way. It is only natural that this will remain as a continous process.

Parliamentary democracy, pluralistic society, rule of law, economic liberalism is already firmly established in Turkey. Both, the public opinion and the political parties are aware of the imperfections in the human rights records of Turkey and serious attempts are made to find a common ground among the programs of the political parties to eliminate these imperfections.

There is a widespread awareness in the public opinion that Turkey deserves nothing less than what the most sophisticated Western societies have today. This awareness is perhaps the most solid guarantee for the future of the Turkish society, because in a pluralistic parliamentary democracy no political party can turn a deaf ear to the expectation of the electorate.

State Institutions

The republican Turkey adopted European institutions in almost all areas of the public administration, such as judiciary, parliament, legislation, etc. Some European institutions such as French administrative high court (Conseil d’Etat) were introduced in Turkey already in the Ottoman era.


The republican Turkey is a secular country. Secularism, that is to say the separation of State affairs from the religion, is a constitutional principle. It is not an abstract principle enshrined in the Constitution. It is complemented with adequate laws and properly functioning recourse procedures. Furthermore, it is a principle that people in Turkey appropriate and use extensively the recourse procedures in case they believe that they are prevented from benefiting from these provisions. The Turkish Constitution provides that this principle

“…shall not be amended, nor shall its amendment be proposed”.[42]

“All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of … … religion and sect”.[43]

“Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religious belief and conviction.


“No one shall be compelled to worship, or to participate in religious ceremonies and rites, to reveal religious belief and convictions or to be blamed or accused because of his religious belief and convictions”.[44]

            Such a structured definition of secularism and mechanisms to protect it may not exist in any other country in the world.

Set of Values

The republican Turkey adopted Western set of values as a model in all fields. Turkey has arrived at this point after painstaking efforts made since centuries. Therefore, these values are now deeply rooted in the mind of Turkish people. There may be some nuances between Western values and Turkish values due to different historical and cultural background, but these nuances are not bigger than the difference between one European country as compared to another European country.

A recent phonemenon contributed to the narrowing of the gap between set of values of Turks and European countries. This phenomenon is the relatively high number of Turkish workers in various European countries, most of than being in Germany. The total number of Turkish workers (or migrant population) is estimated to be above 3 million at present. If we add to this number the Turkish workers who have now returned to Turkey after having stayed several years in the European countries, the number of the Turks who lived in European countries may reach 6 or 7 millions.

International Integration

Turkey is part of all major European international institutions, such as the Council of Europe, OECD, NATO, OSCE, and it has a customs’ union with the European Union. Turkey is party to a bigger number of European conventions than many other European countries.

It has recognized for its citizens the right to apply individually to the European Court of Human Rights.

10.  Turkish Demographic and Economic Presence in Europe

The presence of a sizeable Turkish community in various European countries constitute an additional link or bridge between Turkey and the other European countries.

The number of Turkish citizens in the European Union (EU) countries is estimated to be 2.9 million.[45] Together with 400,000 Turks who have become citizens of their country of residence, the total number of ethnic Turks goes up to 3.3 million.[46] 2.1 million of them live in Germany and 143,000 in Austria.[47]

The number of Turkish businessmen operating in EU countries was estimated to be 62,100 in 1997. If we presume that the trend in the increase of their number did not change, their number should be around 72,000 in 1999.

Of these 62,100 businesses, 47,000 (56,400 in 1999) are operating in Germany and 3,000 (3,090 in 1999) Austria.

Their investment in 1997 was 11.79 billion DM in all EU countries, 9.54 billion DM in Germany and 404,000 DM in Austria.

They created 256,900 jobs in all EU, 206,000 in Germany and 10,600 in Austria.[48]

Most of the members of the Turkish community in EU countries are second or third generation descendants of Turks who were brought to Germany in early 1960s. Majority of them came from remote provincial villages of Turkey. Most of them were barely able to read in Turkish. With few exceptions, they did not speak German at all. More than 60,000 businessmen who succeeded in establishing and operating businesses in highly competitive EU markets are the children or grandchildren of such families. Now that a constantly increasing proportion of them both speak the language of their country of residence and have better means to provide education to their children, one may assume that this dynamic population may achieve better success in future and contribute more to the welfare of the European countries.

            Majority of Turkish businesses in the European countries are small and medium scale businesses. However, there are, among them, bigger businesses employing several hundreds of people and recognized as important companies in the country of their residence[49]

             In view of the higher birth rate in the Turkish community in general, the proportion of the Turkish community, as a percentage of the entire population of their country of residence, is likely to increase in the coming decades.

11.  Vocation

One of the most important elements in this regard is Turkey’s vocation for modernization. This drive for modernization is not a recent occurrence. As early as in the 16th century, Turks in the Central Asian Turkish States “were feeling more and more distanced from the Ottomans and were blaming the Ottomans for becoming more European each passing day.”[50]

The systematic efforts made since the XVIII century to transform Turkey into a modern society is a reflection of this vocation on the deeds of the decision makers of the country. This is perhaps more important than the other elements, because it is a guarantee that decision makers in future will not be able to ignore this vocation as long as the people will persist in it.

Can we characterize Turkey as a European country against this historical background? The answer to this question depends on what is meant by being European. Several definitions were proposed throughout history for it.

Some are based on geographical parameters and characterize as “European” all countries whose territories are partly or entirely in the European continent. This definition includes Turkey in Europe, or we may say that it includes Turkey partly in Europe.

There are others who say that being European is adopting European set of values as one’s own values. If this set of values is based on parameters such as rule of law, functioning of democratic and pluralistic institutions, human rights, economic and social development, Turkey may qualify better than many European countries. If it is based on religion (Judeo-Christian values), as several influential European politicians are on the record for having said so, then Turkey will not be regarded as one of them.

There has even been, in the past, a fancy definition that considered as “European” only the countries that waged a war to Turks or that contributed to such a war. A village by the name of Faymonville near Malmedy in Belgium was referred to as a “Turkish village” because the inhabitants of this village refused in the past to give their young boys as soldiers in a war against the Turks. Of Course, there is no way of considering Turkey as a European country if such a fancy definition is taken as a basis.


To conclude my remarks I would like to point out that Turkey is a modern country that has inextricable geographic, geostrategic, historical, economic, social and cultural ties with Europe.

Turkey is proud of its achievements in its efforts of modernization. It is aware of its discrepancies and is dedicated to eliminate them. Whether the social scientists will characterize Turkey as a European country is, therefore, a question of semantics rather than a question of practical value.



[1] HAMMER-PURGSTALL, Baron Joseph von-, Büyük Osmanlı Tarihi (translation into Turkish),

Istanbul, 1992, Vol. I, p. 217

[2] Hammer I, p. 217

 [3] ÖZTUNA, Yılmaz, Büyük Osmanlı Tarihi, Ötüken Neşriyat, Istanbul, 1994, Vol. I, p. 113

 [4] HEROLD, Rubina Möhring, Turkisches Wien (translation into Turkish) Esra yayınları, Istanbul,

1993, p. 67

[5] Hammer I, p. 220

[6] WICKENBERG, Erik G., A Pocket History of Austria, Societats-Verlag, München, 1972, p. 35

[7] PARSONS, T. Nicholas, Vienna (Blue Guide), London, 1997, p. 62

[8] WICKENBERG, Erik G., op. cit, p. 35

[9] Lavisse-Ramband IV, 662, as quoted by ÖZTUNA, II., p.166

[10] Hammer III, p.52

[11] Hammer III, p.60

[12] Hammer III, p.52; However, ÖZTUNA says, in op.cit.II, p.167, that Sultan Suleiman has personally prohibited taking of civilian prisoners and booty and issued firm orders to this effect.

[13] Hammer III, p.76

[14] Hammer III, p.87

[15] Hammer III, p.77

[16] Hammer III, p.78

[17] ÖZTUNA, III, p. 410

[18] SUGAR, Peter F., South-Eastern Europe Under Ottoman Rule 1354-1804, Seattle and London, 1977. p. 196-197

[19] Hammer IV, p.

[20] PARVEV, Ivan, Habsburg and Ottomans between Vienna and Belgrade (1683-1739), Columbia University Press, New York, 1995, p. 21

[21]“Nemçe’nin tecavüzü hadden aştı; ehl-u iyalimizi gözümüz önünde fahişe gibi kullanıp, başların bize tutturur oldular; bunları görmekden ise ölmek yeğdir. Heman, bir tarafın haber verüp yürüyesiz”, quoted by ÖZTUNA IV, p. 257

[22]“Mu-in-i Ali Osmanım, itaat üzreyim emre

     Kral-ı Orta Macar’ım ki, namım “Tökeli İmre”

quoted by ÖZTUNA Yilmaz, op. cit. 258

 [23] JANKOVIC,  Branimir, The Characteristics of  Balkan Diplomacy in the 18th Century, East European Quarterly, 4(1975), p. 391; KÖPECZY, Bela, The Hungarian Wars of Independence in the 17th and the 18th Century in their European Context, war and society in the Eastern Europe, Volume III.

[24] In the 17th century, three persons had the right to appoint a King. They were the Pope, the Ottoman Sultan and Holy Roman Emperor.

[25] PARVEV, Ivan, op. cit. 32

[26] BARKER, M. Thomas, Double Eagle and Crescent. Vienna’s Second Turkish Siege and its Historical Background, New York 1967, p. 160

[27]Mukaddem bilseydim, rıza vermezdim”, ÖZTUNA, IV, p. 266

[28] Quoted from DANIŞMENT, İsmail Hami. İzahlı Osmanlı Tarih Kronolojisi. Cilt 3, sh. 452-453 by Müjdat KARAYERLİ, in the annex that he added to the translation of Rubina Möhring HEROLD’S “Türkisches Wien”, (Türk Viyana) Esra Yayınları, Istanbul, 1993, p.120

[29] ÖZTUNA IV. p. 268

[30] Hammer XII; p. 427-8, as quoted by Öztuna’s IV, p. 405

[31] ÖZTUNA IV, p. 425

[32] RABINOVICI, Doran, Viennese Views: Reflections on Lisl Ponger’s Photos, Newsletter published

by the Jewish Museum Vienna, Vol. 21, Spring 1999

[33] HAROLD, Rubina Möhring, Turkischeswien (translation into Turkish) Esra Yayınları, İstanbul, 1193, p. 67

[34] Gefangener der Giauren (Unglaubiger).  Die Abenteuerlichen Schicksale des Dolmetschers Osman Aga aus Tameschwar von Ihm sebst erzahlt. Übersetzt, eingeleitet und erklärt von R.F. Kreutel und  Otto Spies, Graz, Wien, Köln, 1962, 230 pp. As quoted by TOLASA, Prof. Dr. Harun, in Kendi Kalemiyle Temeşvarlı Osman Ağa, Selçuk Üniversitesi Yayınları. Konya, 1986, 212 pp.

[35] HEROLD, op.cit., p. 67

[36] HEROLD, p. 67-72

[37] Text of the lecture delivered by Mrs. Kerstin Tomenendal, on 26 April 1998, in the Vienna International Centre.

[38] Related to the author by late Ambassador Breycha-Vautier, former Director of the Vienna Diplomatic Academy.

[39] United Nations Demographic Yearbook 1997, New York, 1999, pp.168, 170, 172

[40] HEROLD, op. cit., p. 67

[41] ÖZTUNA V, p. 143

[42] Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of  Turkey

[43] Article 10 of the Costitution of the Republic of Turkey

[44] Article 24 of the Costitution of the Republic of Turkey

[45] SEN; Faruk: ULUSOY Yumis: ÖZ Günay; Avrupa Türkleri (Turks of Europe), Cumhuriyet Kitapları, İstanbul, 1999, p. 33

[46] Ibid, p. 32

[47] Ibid, p. 37

[48] Ibid, p. 101

[49] Ibid, p. 84

[50] ROUX. Jean Poul, Babur, Histoire des Grands Mongols. Fayards, Paris, 1986, p. 248

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