05 September, 2003
STRASBOURG, 05/09/2003 (ANA/O.Tsipira)
The plenary session of the European Parliament with 221 votes in favour, 195 against and 23 abstentions, on Thursday adopted a report on the situation concerning fundamental rights in the European Union in 2002 submitted by French Euro-deputy Fode Sylla.
The report, which focuses on the conditions for arraignment and detention, the protection of personal data and the right to asylum, makes it clear that the human rights situation in the Union caused concerns in 2002, and that it took a turn for the worse in several cases.
With reference to Greece, the Euro-deputies ask that the Greek government abolish the criminal law provisions included in article 43b of legal decree No.2623/1953/A-268, which provide for a penalty of incarceration up to twelve months for women that violate a rule that bans the presence of women at the monastic community of Mt. Athos.
Moreover, they asked for the abolishment of legislation that penalizes religious proselytization and that followers of the Muslim faith are allowed to build mosques.
With regard to military duty, they asked that Greek law ruling on the duration of alternative, non-military duty, be revised.
They also asked that Greece signs the European Chart on regional and minority languages and adopt a more aggressive policy for the eradication of racist behavior.
Finally, they asked that Greece ratifies the framework Agreement of the Council of Europe applying to the protection of national minorities and amend national legislation that provides for different ages of consent for sexual relations based on sexual orientation.
Sylla's report was voted down by the parliamentary group of PASOK deputies.
The head of the PASOK deputies George Katiforis submitted to the Presidium of the European Parliament a written justification for the group's negative vote, which included the following:
''Mt. Athos enjoys a special status which was ensured through Common Declaration No.4 in the Accession Treaty signed between the EU and Greece.
The Annex to the Final Act of the Amsterdam Treaty includes Greece's statement which refers to the Common Declaration on Mt. Athos that was added to the Final Act of Greece's Accession Treaty''
Katiforis noted that this year's resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU presented Greece as having made significant progress in the respect for religious freedom and the freedom to worship.
Moreover, he said Greece was praised for the development of independent services to monitor police activities and the operation of rehabilitation institutions, while the European Parliament welcomed the efforts made by the Greek authorities to put together a program for the incorporation of the Rom population, also recognizing the fact that many positive measures have been taken for gender equality.
''The report makes a series of recommendations to all EU member-states'', Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis said.
''In reference to Greece, it notes the progress that has been achieved in a number of critical sectors'', he added.
''With regard to Mt. Athos, it should be emphasized that the area is governed by a status tied to a thousand-year-old history, traditions, values, symbols and religious faith for our country ... The position of the Greek government remains consistent in support of this reality. I also feel that the stance adopted by Greek euro-deputies on the entire issue expresses and underlines the serious historical, religious and cultural dimension of the issue and the need for respecting divergence within the framework of the complete safeguarding of human rights.''
Greek Euro-deputy Anna Karamanou (PASOK), who also heads the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, in a release, welcomed the recommendations of Sylla's report for the ''safeguarding and implemen-tation of democracy, equality and respect for women's rights in daily life and practice''.
Source: Athens News Agency