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European Union/Attacks on Eastern Christians

Published on January 11, 2011
Eastern Christians – Joint letter from Michèle Alliot-Marie, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, János Martonyi, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Radoslaw Sikorski, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Paris, Rome, January 5, 2011

Dear High Representative,

Bloody attacks took place in Baghdad on 31 October and then in Alexandria on 31 December 2010. They bear witness to a terrorist strategy whose aim is to set religious communities against one another by striking at them, particularly in their places of worship. Christians living in certain Middle Eastern countries are today experiencing a worrying and indeed tragic deterioration in their situation which is driving them into exile. This also concerns other religious minorities.

The European Union cannot be indifferent to this. You have strongly condemned these attacks, in two public statements. With regard to Iraq, the Foreign Affairs Council of 22 November reiterated our deep concern and our condemnation of violence based on religious hatred and especially terrorist attacks on civilians, whatever their beliefs, and on places of worship.

We consider it necessary, in the present context, to confirm our commitment and constant vigilance, which complement our efforts to cooperate with the European Union’s external partners against terrorism and its effects on international stability. Incitement and recourse to violence against different religious groups and communities are unacceptable. The European Union and its Member States must remain firm on this point. They must not fall into the trap laid for them by terrorists who seek to endanger the universal principles on which our societies are based (particularly the respect for and guarantee of freedom of religion and belief, including freedom of worship). The diversity which has always characterized the East forms part of the values of tolerance and respect that we uphold.

Our deep concern is not limited to the fate of Eastern Christians alone: we are conscious of our responsibility to protect all victims of threats and persecution on grounds of religion.

That is why we would like this issue to be registered as a full agenda item at the Foreign Affairs Council of 31 January 2011, with a view to a debate on respect for religious freedoms. We would also like you to make us concrete proposals to be implemented to foster respect for freedom of religion and belief. We could, moreover, hold a debate on the resources we can deploy to provide help and protection to people under threat.

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