Europarliment President Defends Values

Pöttering Addresses Communion and Liberation Meeting

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 21, 2007 ( Hans-Gert Pöttering addressed participants at a Communion and Liberation conference, telling them that Europe should be characterized by values.

The president of the European Parliament joined with John Waters, a columnist for the Irish Times, to discuss “What Identity for Europe?” on Sunday at the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, hosted by the Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy.

During the press conference that preceded the round-table discussion, the president of the European Parliament detailed what he considers the priorities for the consolidation of Europe.

He said a “European Union that is not only for the elite, but for the common citizens,” should have “human rights, the value of the person, and of the elderly,” as reference values. And, he said, dialogue among cultures should be a priority.

“We don’t want to foment a clash of civilizations, but rather to create partnership,” he added.

Reference to roots

Pöttering said he wished that a mention of Christianity would have been included in the European constitution.

“Personally I always insisted on the reference to God and Judeo-Christian roots, but unfortunately we didn’t achieve it,” he said. “The majority of the European Parliament was not favorable to this reference and they caused the resistance, in particular from France and Belgium.

“But the values affirmed of the human person, that every person is unique, including the elderly and children, are fundamental Christian values. And in this area our commitment should continue day after day.”

During the round-table discussion, Pöttering clarified that his concept of common values doesn’t mean something vague or generic: “When we speak of the rights of the elderly, of children, of no to cloning, of tolerance, we are not making vague affirmations.”

The president of the European Parliament also spoke on religious liberty and the relationship with Islam: “If an Egyptian can declare his religious affiliation to Islam, this should be true for all other religions, including Christianity.

“Toward the Arab world we should be open and ready to dialogue, but we should also ask that our stance be reciprocated.”

Regarding the possible entry of Turkey into the European Union, Pöttering said in the press conference that most parliamentarians are favorable to the idea, “with the condition that all the established conditions are respected. The accession, which is not automatic, will be decided upon at the end of the negotiations.”

Concerning China, he said that “it is necessary to take advantage of the opportunity of the Olympics to promote human rights” in that Asian country.

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