The European Union (EU) was established in 1957 by six western European countries. Then known as the European Economic Community (EEC), its aim was to create a Common Market. During its lifetime, the EU has evolved from this Common Market towards monetary union with the establishment of a single currency, the Euro. There has also been a great deal of political integration, with an example of this being the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Currently, membership of the European Union consists of twenty five states. The last wave of admissions included many former Communist bloc countries such as Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. The next scheduled enlargement is in 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria are scheduled to join.
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However, while Turkey may have a history of looking westwards, there are many differences between Turkey and the rest of Europe. In contrast with the twenty five EU member states, who are all primarily Christian, Turkey is an Islamic state, albeit a secular on. Graham Fuller points out that Turkeys Islamic culture is too alien for the rest of the EU to digest. This is also a problem for Turkey itself. In a study conducted by Lauren McLaren, many Turks gave the religious and cultural issue as a reason as to why Turkey could not and should not join the EU. As McLaren states:
“On the problem of religion and cultural identity for instance, one respondent argued ‘Turkey is a Muslim country: The EU is a Christian community.’ Another stated in response as to why Turkey had not been admitted as a full member: ‘Crusades, religious reasons and we are not European.’ Similarly, ‘although it is not official, they (The EU) perceive themselves as a Christian Club.”
Clearly, Turkish membership of the EU is an extremely contentious issue. Turkey has originally applied to join what was then the EC on April 14th 1987 but was rejected in December 1989. However, Turkey did enter a formal Customs Union with the EU on December 31st 1995, which was notable for it was the EU’s first substantial functioning Customs Union with a