On July 21, 2004 Turks.US reported, "Peoples of all faiths can live together, said the Dutch Prime Minister, warning against invoving religion when assessing Turkey’s EU bid. Europe should not allow the fact that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country to affect its decision on whether to grant Turkey a date to commence accession negotiations, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands said Wednesday. Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who is also the current term head of the European Union, said there should not be new barriers put in front of Turkey’s EU bid. 'The decision must be arrived at honestly, under the ground rules to which we previously, in 2002, firmly committed ourselves,' Balkenende said. 'That means strict application of the criteria laid down, but without inventing new criteria.' Most importantly, the EU members must not allow themselves to be guided by fear of Islam or other factors when assessing Turkey’s request for a date to open membership talks, he said."