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17 January, 2003
All discussion about the special status of Mount Athos had no object since this had been established in the Accession Treaty with which Greece joined the EEC and the relevant section had been preserved in all subsequent treaties, government spokesman Christos Protopapas stressed on Thursday.
The all-male monastic community on a peninsula in northern Greece is semi-autonomous and has for 10 centuries barred the entry of women, as they dedicated their community to the memory of Mary the Mother of God, thus their monastic community is also called the ''Garden of Mary the Theotokos''. The ban is enforced not by the Greek government but by the elected council of the monastic community, which is multinational.
This ban was challenged by a report that was ratified by the Europarliament yesterday.
Ruling PASOK Eurodeputy Anna Karamanou, the only PASOK Eurodeputy to vote in favor of the report issued a written statement from her office in Brussels, saying ''I personally in the past have stood in favor of the lifting of the decision of the monks that forbids access to Mt. Athos by women.''
''This decision was taken one thousand years ago, during the dark years of the Middle Ages in Europe and reflects the social reality of that time, when women did not have access to education, the arts or public life,'' Karamanou said.
''It is time that the monks of Athos reconsider their decision that allows privileges to one gender of human being and confronts the other (their mothers included) as a creation of a lesser god,'' Karamanou concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency