After the end of the cold war, there is again a resurgence of the discussion about the most appropriate world order to promote peace, just as there was after the first and second world wars. At the beginning of the twenty first century, the stereotyping and demonization of "others", whether on religious, nationalist, racist or political grounds, has become a burning issue. The observation of cultural differences turning into political conflicts has changed policy rhetoric in many European counties. This leads us to a challenging question -- How we could live togerther in peace despite the differences? When we ask this question in the context of Turkish-EU relations, we have a question need to answered first.

What is Europe? There are several ways to define this perennially elusive notion, and all of them will probably be correct: Europe is the so called Old Continent; Europe comprises an x number of countries; Europe is a political project – namely an expanding European Union. Those given to philosophizing might well suggest that Europe is, in fact, not a thing but an idea that needs to be redefined at every given historical moment.

What we hold crucially important, however, is that contemporary Europe, -- that is, the post-WWII Europe -- came to recognize that diversity, including cultural diversity, is not a part of the problem but is rather a part of the solution. Having realized this, the continent that throughout its history was ravaged by atrocious wars, bitter religious conflicts and fierce inter-state rivalry has been able to transform itself into a zone of peaceful cooperation and rejection of war, as well as political and economic progress, social advance and institutional altruism. What underlies this remarkable metamorphosis is the culture of dialog that the post-war Europe has so marvelously perfected. This is a specific kind of culture that is based, first and foremost, on the willingness to understand, not vilify, the other and to engage him in the mutually beneficial cooperation, not to fight him.

It is precisely this cultural-philosophical foundation of the European project that makes the United Europe so irresistibly attractive. Even the critics of the European Union have to recognize that the line to join it has always been bigger than the number determined to stay out; as for a line to leave the EU, there’s simply none.

We in Turkey profess this cardinal philosophical principle – unity in diversity based on cultural dialog -- and wholeheartedly support our country’s European bid.

Our firm belief then is identical with the one of our European counterparts: that cultural diversity should be perceived as strength rather than weakness and that dialog and compromise should be the main rules of the game. To better understand one another, cultural exchanges, joint educational programs and opening up more communication channels via the printed and electronic media are the best instruments that we have at our disposal.

Our beliefs shape our main objectives. We intend to actively participate in the Europe-wide cultural dialog; to take part in defining cultural policies; to help improve Turkey’s image in Europe and European image in Turkey; to help broaden cooperation between domestic and international NGOs; to facilitate contacts between professional associations as well as between individual citizens.

Our objectives determine our goals. We seek to actively participate in all kinds of EU-related or EU-initiated projects as well as to sponsor the projects promoting cultural dialog, in which our European counterparts are welcome to take part.

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