05 May 2008, 15:28
Russian Church calls for bigger protection of Christians worldwide by EU
Brussels, May 5, Interfax - The European Union should give better protection to Christians worldwide, Russian Church Representative to European International Organizations, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria said at a Monday meeting between EU officials and European religious leaders in Brussels.
"Tolerance should not cause detriment to Christians, who still make up the majority of the European population. Phobia and discrimination of Christians should be condemned officially," he said.
In addition, the European Union should give better protection to Christian heritage in Europe. For instance, "[Christian] churches are being ruined and thousands of Christians are homeless and banished in Kosovo," the bishop said.
"This is also the case of the Cypriot area illegally occupied by Turkish forces. Churches are destroyed and Christians are suffering there," he said. "Turkey seeks the accession to the European Union but it disregards the needs of its Christian population."
The EU should use negotiations with Turkey to protect religious minorities, the bishop said.
"The European Union administration could do more for the protection of Christians outside Europe, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and many other Islamic countries," he said.
EU Chairman-in-Office and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering attended the meeting on behalf of the European Union.
The religious community was represented by Christian, Islamic and Judaist clerics.