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 and Background Documents.

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 Nicolaď

    "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

    "I am optimistic about the changes taking place in Turkey. I am sure that like Europe, Turkey will one day move away from gender discrimination and a culture that oppresses women. … "

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali, April 2004

  • 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

  • Paul Schnabel and Henk Don (project coordinators), Destination Europe – Immigration and Integration in the European Union, Annex to the State of the European Union 2005. Download in English.
  • Jan Herman Brinks, Between Mohammed and Mammon. Muslims in the Netherlands, ifri Immigration & Refugees, Download in English.
  • Jessica ter Waal, Active civic participation of immigrants in the Netherlands, March 2005. Article in English.
Turska debata Holandiji