CLOSE
Loading...
22° Nicosia,
19 June, 2019
 
Home  /  Comment  /  Opinion

Erdogan’s mosques in the Balkans

A growing Turkish presence via the seemingly benevolent path of religion

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

Just about everyone knows that there is more than one dimension to the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

There is the geopolitical tension between the West and Russia, but there is also the role of Turkey and its continued penetration in the Balkans – using religion as a way in – which should be of particular concern to Western powers.

The construction by Ankara of the Balkans’ biggest mosque in downtown Tirana is the latest example of this approach by Turkey in the region.

The project is moving ahead fast and is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The Namazgah Mosque aspires to be a major religious center that can host more than 5,000 people at a time, while also comprising a library, a cultural center and a conference hall. Apart from the Quran, people will also be taught the Turkish language.

There is no doubt that funding Muslim schools and organizations, as well as building mosques, are all part of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman agenda.

The Turkish president attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Tirana mosque in 2015, calling it a “unique symbol of brotherhood between our nations.” The mosque may be located in Albania, but architecturally it resembles those in Istanbul.

In neighboring Kosovo, meanwhile, Turkey has funded the restoration of dozens of religious buildings from the Ottoman period and the construction of more than 20 mosques in the past few years. It is also planning another huge edifice similar to that in Tirana for Pristina.

These initiatives are not merely a sign of Erdogan’s religious sensibilities. They are at the core of an ambitious, long-term plan for promoting Turkey’s role as the champion and protector of all the Muslims in the Balkans, possibly even of all of “our brothers” in the rest of Europe as well.

It is in this context that Erdogan inaugurated a new mosque in Cologne just a few months ago.

Hence the question arises how the Albanians and the other peoples of the Balkans feel about this growing Turkish presence in their countries via the seemingly benevolent path of religion.

Do they welcome it? Are they indifferent? Or are they worried? And in the same context, how do Greece and the European Union as a whole plan to deal with this policy of Turkey?

TAGS
Turkey  |  Erdogan  |  Balkans  |  Middle  |  East  |  Religion

Opinion: Latest Articles

Prudence and moderation

Prudence and moderation

Greece is going through one of the most toxic pre-election periods it has experienced in decades
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
President Anastasiades visiting Nicosia General Hospital on the 7th of June 2019 following the implementation of the General Healthcare System

Anastasiadescare

When it comes to policy making, politicians should be judged based on the results of their actions not their intentions
Yiannis Kafkarides
 |  OPINION
The silent vote

The silent vote

“It’s better if the result exceeds your expectations”
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Marina Economides keeps things straight as politics of hope clash with populism and fear

They are not Europe

Hope will save the day, not populist rhetoric that flirts with racism and fear
Marina Economides
 |  OPINION
President Nikos Anastasiades shakes hands with Niyazi Kızılyürek on election day

Against all odds

Cyprus elects first ever Turkish Cypriot MEP, shuns nationalists
Yiannis Kafkarides
 |  OPINION
Eleni Xenou asks how much longer until anger over old politics turns rage into action

How much longer?

Old fashioned politics not up to task, but reaction has yet to boil over
Eleni Xenou
 |  OPINION
Andreas Paraschos writes about the overburdened voters as he sees trouble ahead on the Old Continent

Monnet or Orban?

Putting national power above the greater good for Europe spells out a bigger problem
Andreas Paraschos
 |  OPINION
Eleni Xenou sifts through the mud of dirty politics to see a cleaner picture ahead of European elections

Did someone say Europe?

Cheap shots in Cypriot politics rule the day as party leaders choose bickering over substance
Eleni Xenou
 |  OPINION
Andreas Paraschos connects the dots as multiple cases fail to deliver justice, one after the other

The yellow lake

Lady justice fails to prevail as politicians hop from one case to the next
Andreas Paraschos
 |  OPINION
Marina Economides is fed up with petty politics that do irreparable damage, Kızılyurek’s candidacy a case in point

Toxic environment

Short term memory loss strikes around election season, but at what cost?
Marina Economides
 |  OPINION
Eleni Xenou looks closely at the racist question and discovers hidden undertones

So are we racists?

Walls go up as the dreadful question about racism fails to hit a nerve
Eleni Xenou
 |  OPINION
Cry havoc!

Cry havoc!

The decision by the President to call the Turkish incursion into the Cyprus EEZ an invasion has raised eyebrows both at ...
Yiannis Kafkarides
 |  OPINION
Kathimerini Cyprus writes a letter of apology in the wake of the horrific serial killer murders

Sorry

An apology in the wake of the horrific serial killer murders
 |  OPINION
A tear for Notre Dame

A tear for Notre Dame

Andreas Paraschos writes about the wilderness of a society that does not seek accountability
Andreas Paraschos
 |  OPINION
X