After some rather obvious anti-Christian moves and under heavy criticism, the European Union and Catherine Ashton have given at least some lip service to the issue of persecution of Christian communities. Exactly what either the sincerity or the motives are, I am not prepared to say at present, but that protection is needed is obvious. Another question occurring to me: will any "protections" be added to the arsenal of the Alliance of Civilizations that could result in further repressions down the road of religious fundamentalism/orthodoxy?
Quoting in part from the EUActiv article, we read:
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton promised action to protect religious minorities and in particular Christian communities, seeking to assuage critics of her alleged lack of engagement in this matter.
"Long-established Christian communities in the Middle East face difficulties, which have led to significant displacement in some countries and dwindling numbers in the region as a whole. The EU will not turn a blind eye to their plight," she said, addressing a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Ashton pledged increased attention from EU delegations across the world regarding cases of intolerance, even before they trigger actual violence.
However, she did not divulge details of possible changes to EU foreign policy instruments in order to better guarantee protection for Christians. Like S&D MEPs, she was keen to underline that intolerance and hatred concern all religious minorities, not just Christian communities.
As a concession to requests from many centre-right MEPs, she promised to analyse clauses in trade deals to encourage more stringent implementation of human rights. "I will look into GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) regulation," she said, but that dossier mainly falls under the remit of EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
Ashton also promised further discussions on the protection of religious minorities in the next EU Foreign Affairs Council and at the United Nations. "We are considering another initiative to rally strong cross-regional support on this theme in the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council in March," she said.
Her engagement is expected to temporarily mitigate the criticism of Christian MEPs who are at odds with certain recent initiatives from the European Commission that are seen as anti-Christian.
During the debate with Ashton in the Parliament, many MEPs from the EPP and the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) groups reiterated their condemnation of the failure to mention any Christian festivities in the EU diary for 2010/2011.
The diary, of which over three million copies have been produced, has been widely distributed among EU teachers and citizens. But it does not include Christmas or Easter in its calendar, while it mentions European festivities and the celebrations of other religions.
I'm not quite certain what all of this means, but if it abates Christian bloodshed, it is needed. It certainly appears at first blush to be far more than her EU predecessor Javier Solana did to protect the Christians of Kosovo that came under heavy persecution with many of their ancient churches and monasteries destroyed under his watch. Link <1>
Here is what he then had to say about that sorry chapter in Balkan history:
BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana hit back at criticism from Serbs after violent riots erupted in Kosovo, saying the international community was not to blame for the flare-up.
Solana, speaking a day after he was jeered by displaced Serbs during a visit to the UN-run province, said: "I would not say that it is a failure of strategy of the European Union (news - web sites).
"I think it is a failure of the behavior of the people of Kosovo. We are not responsible for the behavior of the people of Kosovo," he told reporters.
"We have expended capital on Kosovo more than any other place in the world. The blame should not be put on the international community. I think the blame has to be placed on the people who have not been able to organize themselves."
During a visit to Kosovo Wednesday, Solana faced abuse by displaced Serbs demanding to know why the international community did not intervene until well after the three-day rampage by the ethnic Albanian majority began.
On Thursday, he accused local political leaders of exploiting the Albanian mobs to their own advantage.
"(The violence) was not completely spontaneous. There were already a lot of people organized to take advantage of that moment of spontaneity," he said, speaking shortly before the start of an EU summit.
"That is something which is very serious because those people who were already organized probably belong to a political party with heavy responsibilities. The leaders of that party have to come out and say very clearly and very strongly that this is not possible," he said.
The violence, which erupted on March 17, killed 28 people and left a trail of destruction through Serb areas of Kosovo. Thirty Serb churches and monasteries were torched, seven villages were razed and 3,600 people were made homeless.
Read the full story about the EU's apparent new found stance against persecuting Christians by clicking here.
<1> Solana hits back after stormy Kosovo trip
AFP via Yahoo ^ | Thu Mar 25, 9:54 AM ET | AFP staff http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1105482/posts