Europe's Christian heritage proves source of division

( [email protected] ) Jun 26, 2003 01:23 PM EDT

During the three-day EU summit held in Aegean Sea Resort, European leaders provoked a controversial division in mentioning Christian heritage to the new blueprint of European future, AFP reported.

Poland, Spain and Portugal insisted that the new constitution for the soon-to-be expanded Europe should make clear reference to the bloc's Christian roots.

Leszek Miller, Polish Prime Minister said during the news conference after EU summit, "we cannot talk about Europe without Chrisitianity."

EU leaders upholded a draft blueprint for a new constitution. This new constitution is preparing to accept new 10 members in May 2004, who were used to be communist nations, by simplifying EU blocs and preventing difficulties in decision-making.

The draft mentions "the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe and the values of which, still present in its heritage."

Danuta Huebner, Poland's minister of European affairs, asserted "if our history should be tributed, there is a role of Christianity in our history," and retorted "why shouldn't we mention it?"

The draft has been supported as a good basis of the constitution by several European leaders but harsh debate and divison are expected before the draft is actually negotiated in upcoming Inter-governmental Conference in October.

Meanwhile, Ana Palacio, Spain's foreign minister criticized Huebner's demands saying "he wants Europe as a Christian Club.

He also pointed out that it may be a problem if we refer only Christian heritage excluding Jewish and Islamic heritages. "If we only maintain Christian heritage, it will be very ironic for Turkey or any other Muslim countries' future admission.

EU leaders are due to assess Turkey's progress towards meeting its democracy criteria in December 2004 before deciding whether to open entry negotiations.

Jose Maria Aznar, Spanish Prime Minister said "a large number of EU leaders had agreed that reference to Christianity should be included. It's not a religious question but a historical one."

However, French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing who headed the convention said Friday, "an clear reference has failed to find consensus among the 105 members."

The draft constitution says "EU respects the status according to the national law of church and shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and non-confessional organizations."

The president also pointed that "in the reference of religious heritage, this draft is going furtherer than the charter of fundamental rights of EU citizens."

Most of the left-wing convention members made it clear that they would not change their minds on the secular character that the future constitution should take.

Some of European constitutions such as Polish and German texts refer to God or Christian value.