Patriotic Turks, Their Flag, and the EU

I was once asked to describe Turkish people and I had no hesitation in my answer; Turks are patriotic. The most obvious sign of their patriotism is the display of the Turkish flag, a red background with a white moon and star.

Teenage boys about to depart for compulsory military service will often, drape the flag over a car before riding around town, beeping the car horn loudly. They are proud to be embarking on training and survival techniques, should they need to join their fellow compatriots in protecting the borders of their country.

Public holidays also provide a colour festival of red and white, as flags cover both sides of main streets. However, as a foreigner, you do not have to wait for a special occasion or public holiday to see the Turk’s admiration for their flag.

Turks are Patriotic

Where do they display the flag? Let’s see!

Got yourself a pet camel? Stick a flag on it


Out walking in the middle of nowhere and you think that bridge looks boring. Hang a flag from it


Come across an old and derelict castle that is not used anymore. No worries, stick a flag up..


Bought yourself a little dinghy boat? Don’t forget the flag!


The best one of them all though; while driving in the east, I even spotted the symbols carved into the mountainside with the words Önce Vatan ( translates into “before homeland” but means “country first”)


Origins of the flag vary, depending on whom you speak to, diving the truth between a connection to Ottoman flags or a resemblance of a bloody battlefield with the reflection of the moon and a star shining down.

mount tahtali flag

Irrelevant of how the design came to be, one thing is certain and that is along with the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the flag has the highest respect of its people.

You will never see a proud Turk place the flag on the floor and as a foreigner, be sure to avoid any incident in which you damage the flag or a representation of  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Such actions are likely to see you kicked out of the country faster than a drunk atheist out of a church of god.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

What do I Think of the Turkish Flag Displays?

I have mixed feelings. It is heart-warming to see a nation with so much pride in its heart, however at the same time; I feel a spot of jealousy. My sense of patriotism for the UK and the British bulldog has long disappeared.

Growing up, I remember visiting seaside resorts in the UK and the union jack had been downgraded. Instead of flying our flag high, we took to wearing its design on our bikini bottoms, effectively covering our rear ends with the pride of our nation.

We did not realize at the time, the symbolic gesture of what we were doing.

I am fascinated with the fact that in Turkey, I have never seen the style of the Turkish flag on bikinis or underwear. I am  quite sure that if you wanted to buy such items, you would be hard press to find a stockist. I also blame my lack of patriotism on British politicians and their sell out to the EU.

If we still believed in witches, I suspect that the politicians of that tiny, little island in the sea would have  burned at the stake years ago.  While Greece and Italy seemed to openly flaunt every rule made by the EU, Britain instead enforced them with an iron fist.

My one benefit of being a British citizen, is  the passport that allows me free travel, for which I am eternally grateful.

Therefore, while I have no sense of pride in my home country, to witness such patriotism among Turks does bring a feeling of comfort to me. I have one concern for the future of Turkey though. Their connection to the EU

Will Turkey get into the EU?

I was delighted to read a recent news report that Turkish opinion has shifted on whether they should join the EU. Apparently, in 2004, an overwhelming 70% of the Turks wanted to join, but as each year progresses the number is slowly dropping, reaching an average of 30% in 2012. There is also the question of northern Cyprus and many argue that until Turkey gives it up, they will never enter the EU.

Will Turkey do that? Well, not in my lifetime.

However, Turkey has already received billions of euros from the EU in pre-accession funding so I doubt the ties between the two can be cut so easily.

Shopping centre

Do the people of Turkey need the EU?

You do not need the EU. You are a strong country and can exist on your own. While some EU countries are going down in flames, your economy is going from strength to strength.

Your people have a sense of  pride that I have never witnessed in a nation before. Yes, you have your faults and are far from perfect however, as a country; I believe you can organize your own affairs, without interference from the EU.

If you insist on following the path to join the backwards tribe of numpties at EU headquarters, do what all the other EU countries do. Take the money and then run for the hills. Ignore the silly rules and pathetic dramas.

Keep your sense of national pride and patriotism for the benefit of the future generations of Turkey.

Readers Question : What are your thoughts on the Turkish flag and Turkey joining the EU?

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    totally at odds with the nationalism thing – it is the cause of so many nasty attitudes and problems globally. Getting rid of artificial nation states/borders and the symbols does not mean a loss of cultural/ethnic identity. If its good for money and goods to move freely, why not people? Borders closed to free travel is such a recent thing, a little over 100 years.
    Those who think we’d be over run by hoards of foreigners should stop reading the Daily Mail and instead learn the facts. People need to take back their world.
    Alan wrote about..Akdamar – A Name Carved Into History

    • Chris says

      Alan, you don’t think we are already overrun by foreigners? Don’t you think half the world wants to come here because we are seen as such an easy touch?
      Maybe I’m exaggerating a little. But I’m not keen on open borders. As for the Turks being so proud of their country, why is it that everyone seems to think they want to come here?
      The government certainly does. It’s very difficult to get into the UK if you’re from a country outside of the EU. Even for just a holiday. The immediate assumption is that they won’t return home.
      I think I’ve wandered off the topic! I hate the EU. I voted no when we had the referendum when I was just a girl and my opinion hasn’t changed. I would advise the Turks to stay well clear.
      And no, I’m not a xenophobe. I love meeting all different nationalities. I just don’t like the idea of a one size fits all goverment and policies.
      Stay out of it Turkey! You don’t need it.

    • says

      Alan – yes, how ironic that money and goods can move freely but not people, I never thought of it like that.

      Still like the nations aspect though. I believe it is meant for us and has been shown all through time. We have had tribes, communities, towns, cities, and countries and from that comes strength in numbers.

      The aspect in itself is sound, it is the leaders that make the problems.
      Natalie wrote about..23 Landscape Photos of Turkey

  2. phil + Di marina gateway says

    when we joined the EU i was one of the people who said if were joining we should join 100% and not half heartley we should adopt the euro
    i have been proved very wrong on that one it would have been very bad for the uk if we had
    i agree that Turkey economy is going from strength to strength but that is because of all the EU money how good would the economy be without it becareful what you wish far

    • says

      Di – Is the economy only growing because of the EU? I believed it was for a multitude of other reasons. It was for my belief that the EU money was only used for pre-accession funding ie improving rights for disabled people etc

      What I wish for is for Turkey to stay as far away from the EU as possible. I don’t think I will get that wish though. I also do not think that the UK should have joined, even half heartedly like they did.
      Natalie wrote about..Memories Are Everything. Remembering Alacin River

    • says

      I would like to see the data whereby you draw the conclusion that the growth of the economy in Turkey is because of the “EU money.” Please document your sources as I would like to examine them. I was under the same impression as Natalie about what the funds were used for.

      Otherwise, if you have no sources, is it just an opinion?

  3. says

    I had many great chats with Turks about this very topic when I was there, and I have to agree with you Nicole, the younger people are definitely becoming more hesitant of joining the EU.
    They are rich and self sufficient in natural resources, have a massive military and unlike most of Europe who’s population is ageing, theirs is young and able to work, why would they risk taking orders on the size and shape of their bananas from Brussels?
    On the counter though, there is a big difference in the development and wealth of western and Eastern Turkey. One of the main motivations of more European leaning Turks of wanting to join the EU is that it would create a clear cut level of standards that would have to be applied across most aspects of the country ie building and construction standards…

    In an era where Europe produced Hitler, Stalin and Musolini, the Turks founding father and hero Attaturk rebuilt their national identity and kept them out of the second World War- a figure worthy of the admiration they give him. Im not Turkish but their patriotism definitely rubs off on you once you have been there for a few weeks!
    Ash wrote about..Two Days in Manila with Jason Bourne

  4. Robert says

    Rituals are vital for countries identity and survival. As far as that goes then flags are a wonderful symbol of a country’s cohesion and self-respect. I could not see that it would ever be proper and appropriate to burn a Turkish flag as we do here in the USA. In fact, I believe that it is patriotic to burn a flag here in the USA given the appropriate freedom of expression. I say that as a retired USA military office. But I don’t see how that would be an acceptable expression in Turkish culture. It is indeed admirable that such expression would be seen as a crime because of the level of respect they show. Having visited twice because of marriage to a Turkish lady, I have come to love the country of Turkey. In studying their history, I do worry about their role in the region as it becomes combustible. Then again, the region has always been one where survival requires great wit and intellect. On this front, I believe Turkey will set a course appropriate for their survival. That goes for the question of their entry into the EU. I have not informed myself on this topic and the role of the EU monies would seem to be a piddling of the topic. The more germane issue for Turkey in EU is its lose of cultural identify. That I would have to see. I am in the camp that does not really want Turkey to join EU if that is what they want to do. I am sure they are counting their lucky stars that the haters of Islam delayed the entire process.

    • says

      I did wonder while I was writing the article Robert, how the USA and Britain can be so relaxed over flag burning. It is after all, a symbol of the nation.

      I too, worry about the loss of cultural identity should Turkey join the EU. It happened in the UK so could easily happen here. I am quite sure they would have to change a number of rules which would upset those that believe strongly in the legacy that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk left behind.
      Natalie wrote about..The Friendly Locals of Ani Village

      • says

        Freedom of expression used to be guaranteed under the Constitution of the USA. Common Law in the UK was the basis for such freedoms. It is difficult to allow real freedom of political speech and ban certain expressions of it such as burning Bush in effigy or burning a flag as an expression of anti-war sentiment. The US Supreme Court ruled that, under certain circumstances, flag burning is freedom of expression. Otherwise it is against the law in the US.

  5. says

    Personally, I don’t think Turkey should join the EU, simply because 97% of the country is in Asia, and their human rights record is abysmal. There need to be drastic changes before it can be considered.

    In terms of patriotism however, I do find it refreshing (as a fellow Brit) that Turks have such a sense of pride. The British government (under Labour) made you feel guilty for loving your own country in case you offended others. Screw that. Turkey has the right idea, as does my current home of South Korea (also fiercely patriotic, and with a strong love for Turkey).
    Waegook Tom wrote about..Hallim Park, Or Adventures of a Non-Botanist

      • Harbiye says

        What percent of Cyprus is in Europe?

          • Harbiye says

            Get your facts straight Natalie. 100% of Cyprus is in Asia, which means 0% in Europe.


            Don’t get me wrong. I would be the last person who would want to see Turkey in the EU, but this christian hypocrisy disgusts me. Why don’t you just admit that Turkey will never get into the EU because they are muslims instead of making up dumb excuses?

            • says

              First of all, don’t come on my blog with an attitude because I will just block you. You want to have a discussion, that is fine. You want to vent your anger, do it elsewhere.

              Second – exactly the same website you quote as a source, list Cyprus under Geography of Europe.

              There are also three different versions of maps. Two of them have Cyprus in Asia and the other one in Europe.

              Also what does this mean? “Why don’t you just admit that Turkey will never get into the EU because they are muslims instead of making up dumb excuses?” No one else has approached the avenue of discussion. You are the first yet you say to me, why don’t you just admit it. How can I admit something which has not been discussed!!

              If you are the adult you make yourself out to be, you would say “actually Natalie, I think you are wrong. I think Turkey will not get into the EU because they are Muslim, what is your point of view?”

              Then guess what? We have an adult discussion happening. Like I said, next time your comments get edited, the third time, you get blocked.

              Now, if you want a real discussion. Yes, I believe that Germany and France do not want Turkey in the EU because they are Muslims. However there are plenty more countries in the EU than those two, so I don’t think it is the whole basis and only basis for rejection.

  6. harbiye says

    Comment removed by blog owner. Author is rude and has a paranoia complex

  7. harbiye says

    Note – Comment edited by blog author as not relevant to the discussion

    • Nat says

      Ha ha – Thought it was your last comment on the matter Harbiye. Why are you back? Told you. Be an adult and we can discuss this. Be rude and I will simply edit your comments every time.

  8. harbiye says

    When did I say it would be my last post? Can you show me the post in which I told that, because I can`t see it.

    • Nat says

      You can not see it because I have edited it, now have you got anything useful to add to the discussion or not?

  9. harbiye says

    I don`t need to add anything, but you need to answer my post, or admit that you can`t.

    • Nat says

      Answer your post about what?? You have come on here accusing me about Christian hypocrisy when I am not even a Christian. You have not read the whole post or my blog, otherwise you would know that I am living in a Muslim country. You start on about knowing that Christians hate Muslims and that is nothing to do with this article. What do you want the answer to?

  10. harbiye says

    I have never accused you personally of something, so don`t tell me you are not christian or not. You are all christians to me, just like we are all muslims to you. I don`t care what you are individually.
    You don`t know what you should answer? you can start with why you christians object to Turkey`s EU membership claiming it`s only 7% in Europe while you are totally ok with Cyprus` being in the EU although 100% of it is in Asia?

    • Nat says

      You say “you are all Christians to me”, what does this mean? Everyone from the west is a Christian to you? What about all the Muslims who were born and bred in the west. Are you now telling them they are Christian? What is your criteria for determining who is Christian and who is Muslim?

      Once again, you say “you can start with why you Christians”. I will repeat, I am not Christian. Perhaps you should find a blog written by a Christian to answer this question.

      Also I don’t think you read my article did you? I don’t want Turkey in the EU because it does not need the EU. Don’t you think your country is strong enough? Do you know feel that as a Turkish person, you need to gain the approval of Christians, because this is what you are sounding like.

      Who cares if people don’t want Turkey in the EU because it is only 7% in Europe. Read my article, an overwhelming amount of Turkish people do not want the EU and they don’t need it either.

  11. Nat says

    Harbiye – I will answer your reply tomorrow as it is now 9.15 at night and I want to spend time with my family. Your comments are on hold until I return tomorrow.

  12. harbiye says

    The muslims, jews, gypsies and all the others in the christian world are minorities which are not the subject of this discussion. You can`t answer my question about Cyprus because you realize it`s the proof of christian hypocrisy I mentioned.

    And why do you think I need the approval of christians while I hate your fascistic christianocentrism and moral absolutism which dehumanise anyone who doesn`t act think or wear like christians?

    • says

      1 – I answered your question further up the comments

      2 – This obsession of yours with Christians, makes it sound like you need their approval.

      3 – Get back on topic, otherwise I will not publish your comments

      4 – Reminder . Don’t be rude!

  13. harbiye says

    No you didn’t answer my question. Here is what I asked;
    “why you christians object to Turkey`s EU membership claiming it`s only 7% in Europe while you are totally ok with Cyprus` being in the EU although 100% of it is in Asia?”

    • says

      1 – I am not a Christian

      2 – I object to Turkeys bid for the EU on the basis that they do not need the EU. The EU needs them!

  14. harbiye says

    You still can’t answer my question. You said earlier;

    “Simply for fact that 97% is in Asia makes it a no brainer for me”

    So what do you think about Cyprus, which is 100% in Asia, being in the EU? And why don’t we ever see you christians oppose to Cyprus’ EU membership arguing it is not in Europe?

  15. says

    1 – I can not answer on behalf of Christians because I am not one. I told you this before. I don’t even speak to Christians on a daily basis, only Muslims so I can not tell what they think or say. I suggest you find a Christian blog and you might have more luck getting your questions answered.

    2 – Re Cyprus, see links before in which on some maps it is said to be part of Europe and others it is part of Asia.

    3 – Re Cyprus being in the EU. I really don’t care. They are not the country that I am living in and I have no concern for them. They can knock themselves out all they like with their EU perks. It affects me no one bit.

    I am hardly going to argue about the membership of Cyprus when what I really want is for Turkey not to go into the EU. My energy and time is better spent discussing reasons why Turkey should not go into the EU, rather than wondering why people are not against the membership of Cyprus.

    And yes, one of the reasons why I don’t think Turkey should be in the EU is because a majority of it is in Asia. This fact proves my support for Turkey not joining the EU, so why I am going to sit there and cry about Cyprus like you are?
    Natalie wrote about..St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul

  16. harbiye says

    It’s good to see you still can’t answer my question. hahaha

    • says

      Not good to see that you are not reading my replies otherwise you would have realised that I have answered your question umpteen amounts of time. :(( Tut Tut!!

  17. harbiye says

    You know very well that Cyprus is in Asia. I won’t waste my time trying to teach you obvious facts that can be reached through any atlas or encyclopedia.

    Cyprus (geographically part of Asia but considered European for historic and cultural reasons)

    Turkey (whilst most Turkish territory is geographically part of Asia, Turkey can be considered part of Europe for political and historical reasons; the region East Thrace is on the European continent)

    Maps that has Turkey in Europe;

    I’m not asking you to speak on behalf of christians. I’m just asking why we don’t ever see christians object to Cyprus’ getting into the EU?
    Is it so hard to admit it’s because of christian hypocrisy?

    Btw. one of your readers says that Turkey is not accepted into the EU because of Islam haters. What do you think about that?

    • says

      Finally, a decent comment from yourself well done. Now, if you just had that attitude at the beginning instead of being such an idiot about it all, we could have had a good discussion from the start. Although, I have to say that no, I don’t know very well that Cyprus is in Asia. Don’t presume to think that you know what I know, cause that is when you come unstuck.

      Re the Christians – I really do not have much contact with them so can honestly not answer your question. I don’t want to presume to know how they think and act, and what their opinions about it are. The next time, I have contact with a Christian though, who argues that Turkey should not join the EU because they are Muslim, I will ask them this question and see what the answer is.

      Re Islam haters, my first thoughts on those culprits is the French government, secretly backed I think by the Germans, but they do not want to admit it. I can not even say that the French are just against Turkey in general, I do believe that they are against Islam as a whole, following recent rulings in their country. Your thoughts???

      • harbiye says

        it`s funny that you call me idiot while you claim I`m being rude. The last time I took an iq test, I got 135. I think that`s at least 40 points more than what you could ever score. So when you are tempted to call someone idiot make sure he is less intelligent than you.

        And I`m sure it`s only the Germans and French who hate muslims. We all know the rest of christians just love us so much that they keep invading muslim countries and genociding muslims.

        • Nat says

          For someone who has an iq of 135, you have very poor social skills. You have no idea of how to debate or have a worthy discussion. How you relate to other people is more important than the intelligence that you think you have. It is obvious that you are in need of human contact so my suggestion is to switch off your computer and go out into the real world.

          Thread now closed because I am fed up of you and your inability to converse in a decent manner. Go and find some other blog owner to annoy.

    • says

      harbiye, many in the west couldn’t give a rats behind about the religion of turkey. The issues you are continually raising are on par with the topic of why the Turks wont acknowledge the genocide of over a million Armenians during WW1- We can go round in circles and drive wedges between our cultures and societies, or we can channel that energy in making peace for our children. it starts with us…
      Ash wrote about..Canada – Left Side

      • harbiye says

        why don`t we acknowledge the so called Armenian genocide? Simply because you christians don`t acknowledge the Turkish genocide by your christian armenian brothers. Have any thoughts on the millions of Turks who once lived in Yerevan, Crimea and the Balkans? What do you think happened to them? By the way when will you recognize the muslim genocide you carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or you better stop genociding muslims first.

  18. Eon says

    Nice blog Natalie! Keep going! Greetings from Turkey!
    By the way, flag is not about the patriotism in all conditions.
    We are the people like to remember the difficult days at past. It makes us awake to all the danger including our behaviours.
    It keeps us on form morally. We are emotional people and like to live with our precious memory.
    Honestly Turks never feels hostile or, how can say, offensive feeling when they see their flags.
    Generally we feel melancholic, if we are not in a reactive condition.

    • says

      Hi Eon, Welcome to my blog and glad you like it. I can imagine the Turkish flag to provoke this feelings as the history of Turkey has certainly been hard for its people. Melancholic is a nice way to describe it
      Natalie wrote about..St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul