Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Witty bits from what I learned in the UK (19) [Vorbe de duh din ce am învăţat în UK]

I may have been surprised by the number of French people living in London, although not by their presence; I knew they were ‘supposed to be there’ at least since the time of the Huguenots, if not since… William the Conqueror, that is the year 1066 :-)

That was what I equally believed about Arabs, Jamaicans, Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, (as former subjects of the British Crown), ChineseItalians (who are usually everywhere in the world)… and, of course, Greek Cypriots.

What I had completely ignored was the possibility to meet as many Turks as I did, who actually form an entire… Turkish London – a community made up of some 70,000 people (oficially) or up to 400,000 (unoficially).

Many still contest the Turks’ commitment to democratic values in the Western world acception, however, one could hardly have anything to say against their entrepreneurial spirit which is perfectly compatible with the ‘free economy’ professed by the UK.

Just like Ernst Hemingway said that in every port in the world, at least two Estonians can be found, there probably is a small Turkish business in any British city, although the bulk of the Turkish Community lives in London.

Another surprise was to realize how many foreigners are working for think-tanks and other NGOs dealing with European Affairs. Out of those we met as Chevening Fellows, one was French, one German, one Italian, and one we didn’t get to meet was… Swedish.

Does this mean that ‘purebred Britons’ are uninterested in the EU? It’s hard to tell… But I couldn’t hide the fact that I sometimes I got this impression, in spite of also meeting some staunch British supporters of the EU, both in London and Edinburgh. One was a former Tory MEP.

I don’t know how effective Turkish Lobbyists are in Britain (+ at the EU level), compared to the well-established Turkish Lobby in the USA.

It is nonetheless very interesting that all Her Majesty’s (successive) Governments supported and keep supporting Turkey’s Accession to the EU, a stance that puts Britain at odds with Germany, France, Austria & other European countries.

This state of facts makes me wonder and ask my readers – if any of them could be familiar with such issues – the following:

Of all the ethnic groups living in London, which is the most influential? Has any of these communities succeeded in influencing British politics?

Apart from the lovely English language, around 300 other tongues are spoken in this Modern Babylon. Is any of these heard louder than others at Downing Street 10?

Do immigrant communities count in London like, say, in New York? Because as much as New York seems so different from the rest of the USA, so does London ‘feel’ (not necessarily look) differently from the rest of the UK.

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]

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