In a previous post, I have defined “country”. Here I will define what makes a country a part of Europe.
Europe is a continent with identity problems. Most continents are clearly identiefiable landmasses, like Africa or America (Whether South and North America are one or two continents is a different question). Europe is actually a penninsula of the Eurasian “mother” continent, with defined borders (the Ural mountains and river and the Caucasus mountains), but it is not a large island like for example Australia.
Who gets to define what’s Europe? The European Union (which some people confuse with Europe) has claimed the right to define what a European country is, and will not accept what it calls non-European countries. The EU refused Morocco the candidate status, since Morocco is not in Europe. But Cyprus is, geographically, a part of Asia, and its a member of the EU. So is Malta, and its on the African continental plate (as are Italy and Spain, actually). And Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe, which implicitely recognises Armenia as a European country, even though its on the Asian side of the Caucasus. Murky, again.
As far as the EU is concerned then, any country that geographically is even partially in Europe, like Kazakhstan, Turkey or Iceland (half Iceland is in America), counts as European. But since Cyprus and Armenia, that are not a bit in Europe, are included, then perhaps its the cultural European identity that defines a country as European? Well, then New Zealand would be the most European country of all, and no one would claim New Zealand as part of Europe.
Once again, football to the rescue! This time – the UEFA. It allows countries to play in the European football competitons based on their belonging to Europe, and is very strict about it. Like the EU, UEFA includes Armenia, Cyprus and Malta but will go no further. The only exception they make is for Israel because of rather special circumstances. Biased as I am, this exception suits me well, since it allows me to count Israel in as a small European country (I will get to the definition of “small” in due time). I assume that in due time, the EU will make the same exception.
Therefore, in this weblog a European country is defined as a member of UEFA.