The poetry-loving favourite to become the first president of Europe, Herman Van Rompuy, is also a hard-line opponent of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union because it is an Islamic country.
Herman Van Rompuy, Belgium’s Prime Minister, has in the past spoken out against Turkish EU membership because, he warned, it would dilute Europe’s Christian heritage.
His position on the issue is so strong that he has won the support of Vlaams Belang, the controversial far-right Flemishh anti-immigrant party in Belgium.
Speaking five years ago, as an opposition politician, Mr Rompuy, a Christian Democrat, argued that Muslim Turkey could not be considered a candidate for EU membership.
“Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe. An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past,” he said.
“The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are fundamental values of Christianity, will loose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey.”
Filip Dewinter, a Vlaams Belang leader, said: “We are entirely in agreement with Van Rompuy over this question and are convinced he will defend this point of view as President of the EU. It is for this reason we openly support him.”
Mr Van Rompuy’s opposition to Turkey is set to cement British and East European opposition to him during Thursday’s summit dinner to appoint a President and Eu foreign minister.