Euro Leaders Say They Hope to Improve the Draft Constitution

Mention of Christian Heritage Is Still a Possibility

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PORTO CARRAS, Greece, JUNE 22, 2003 ( The draft of the European Constitution was presented to the summit of leaders of state and government of the European Union, who announced their intention to “improve it.”

The text makes no reference to God or to the role of Christianity in the configuration of the Old World, despite the fact that this was requested by representatives of Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain.

When presenting the document, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing exhorted the governments to avoid making alterations to the text that might affect carefully thought-out agreements.

The proposal to mention the Christian roots of Europe in the draft preamble has not found the necessary majority in the European Convention which wrote the document, says the former French president said. The draft preamble now only mentions the continent’s “religious heritage.”

Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Minister, added that his government will seek to have Christianity mentioned in the document, when the rotating presidency of the European Union, now held by Greece, changes on July 1. Otherwise, he said, “Christian tradition, a fact of European history, would be denied.”

Antonio López Istúriz, secretary-general of the European Popular Party, confirmed that “the president of the party, José María Aznar, will defend the explicit mention of the Christian heritage in the preamble of the European Constitution, before the Intergovernmental Conference.”

“The work of the Intergovernmental Conference will be a decisive moment in the redaction of the European Constitution, and, just as President Aznar announced in Salonika, it is necessary once again to defend the Christian heritage, without which it is unthinkable to speak of Europe,” López Istúriz stressed.

The European Council officially invited the Italian presidency, during its mandate, to convoke the Intergovernmental Conference, which will prepare the final version of the Constitution and which likely will begin in early October.

The objective is to conclude the working sessions before December, so that the new Constitutional Treaty can be ratified by the 25 members states before the June 2004 elections.

“A European Constitution which projects a future forgetting its roots, is disturbing,” the Convention of Christians for Europe said, in a statement issued on the Salonika summit.

“When ideology rewrites history, the result is always scandalous,” the note added, disseminated in Italy by Giorgio Salina, the Convention’s vice president for Italy.

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