The heads of state of the European Union recently decided to begin full membership negotiations with Turkey, a nation whose population is almost entirely Muslim. This critical decision brings to the forefront profound questions about the cultural and religious identity of Europe, and of Islam's place on the continent.
Recent public opinion polls show that Europeans are increasingly concerned about the integration of Muslims into the continent's public life, especially in light of the March terrorist bombings in Madrid and this fall's extremist violence in the Netherlands. How will these concerns affect Turkey's EU prospects as negotiations proceed? Some, such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, support Turkish membership in the hope of bridging Islam and Europe; others oppose it out of concern that Europe would lose much of its cultural identity. How would Turkish membership affect the identity of Europe and the cohesiveness of the EU — which, some believe, have depended on a common Christian culture? Conversely, what would EU membership mean for the identity of Turkey as it tries to blend a resurgent Islam with political secularism?
Join us on Thursday, January 13, 2005 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as we convene policymakers of divergent viewpoints to discuss these issues and their implications for U.S. policy towards Europe and the Muslim world.
Corrado Pirzio-Biroli, Head of the Cabinet of former EU Commissioner Franz Fischler
Omer Taspinar, Research Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution
Luis Lugo, Director, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Read the full report Does "Muslim" Turkey Belong in "Christian" Europe? on The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.