Centraal Station

This is a moment of soul-searching in the Netherlands. The events of 11 September 2001, the murder of film-maker Theo van Gogh by a Dutch Moroccan extremist in late 2004, and the discovery of extremist Islamist networks have all contributed to the current debate on Islam in the Netherlands. The rejection of the EU constitution in the Dutch referendum on 1 June 2005 also raised questions about the level of support for European integration.

So far, however, neither the debate on Islam nor the new debate on the EU have undermined Dutch support for EU enlargement and Turkish accession.

Since October 2005 ESI has undertaken intensive research in the Netherlands to analyse how recent events have influenced the Dutch national debate on enlargement and Turkey.

Here we offer a comprehensive overview of the state of the debate: Dutch voices on Turkey (April 2006) and Background Documents (April 2006).

A full ESI report on the Dutch debate on Turkey and the EU was published on 24 April 2006.

Highlights of the Dutch Debate
  • Atzo Nicolaï

    "Few member states have been as active in their support for the enlargement process as the Netherlands. We shall stick to our European commitments. You can count on us. We are very serious about bringing you on board safely, for the benefit of all. But we are equally serious when it comes to conditionality. We shall stick to our European commitments, but also to our European criteria. There, too, you can count on us."

    Atzo Nicolaï, April 2006

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    "Kemal Ataturk’s heritage is about to be destroyed — not by an invading power, but from within by fellow Turks who yearn for an Islamic state. [… ] the Turkish army is not like any other. The military has the unique task of safeguarding Turkey's secular character." (Full text in New Perspectives Quarterly, Spring 2007)

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali, May 2007

  • Jan Erik Zürcher

    "Turkey's alleged un-European character is a construction, based on a very shaky definition of a European or "Western" civilization, and on a poor understanding of Turkish reality." (Full text in The European Union, Turkey and Islam)

    Erik Jan Zürcher, 2004

  • Wim Duisenberg

    "For me, Europe's integration of Muslim Turkey into its political union is the same sort of question of peace that [the founders of the EU] successfully confronted. […] Today, Europe needs peace between cultures as much as it once needed peace between nations and it is for this reason that we must welcome Turkey into our midst."

    Wim Duisenberg (†), August 2004

  • Jan Peter Balkenende

    "The decision [on Turkey] must be arrived at honestly … We cannot change the rules during the game. … We must not allow ourselves to be guided by fear, for example, of Islam. The raising of barriers to any particular religion is not consistent with Europe's shared values." (Full Speech to the European Parliament, 21 July 2004)

    Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister

  • Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR), The European Union, Turkey and Islam, Amsterdam University Press, 2004 (includes survey, Searching for the Fault-Line, by E.J. Zürcher and H. van der Linden).
  • Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey and the EU – From Association to Accession. Record of the High-level Round Table Conference, 6-7 November 2003, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Hague: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Forward Strategy Unit, 2003. Book from this conference available at www.minbuza.nl, inquiries dges-fsu@minbuza.nl.
  • A.M. Lejour, R.A. de Mooij, C.H. Chapel, The economic implications of Turkish accession, Netherlands Bureau of Economic Policy Analysis, CPB Nr. 56, March 2004. Download report at www.cpb.nl or here.
  • Turkey in the European Union. Consequences for Agriculture, Food, Rural Areas and Structural Policy, 1 December 2004. Research undertaken by the Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy Group, AEP, and the Agricultural Economics and Research Institute, LEI, at Wageningen University.
Turkey Debate in the Netherlands