Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (TDI) to to the Council and answer

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Council
(22 June 2000)

Subject: Religious freedom in Greece

Ms Chara Kalomiri, a Greek citizen, is at the centre of a legal saga which raises disturbing doubts as to whether freedom of religion is being respected in Greece. She was reported by the Mount Athos authorities for having led, from September 1994 to March 1995, a "centre for practical psychological philosophy" in the Chalkidiki peninsula. She was sentenced by a Greek lower court in 1997; this sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court, but a retrial led to her being sentenced over again. The judges justified their verdict on the grounds that the "place of Buddhist worship devoted to meditation" had not received the mandatory authorisation of the Ministry for Education and Religion, which is granted after the Orthodox hierarchy has given its opinion.

Does the Council not consider that, given that respect for religious freedom is a fundamental right of the individual and a principle common to all the Member States, action should be taken under Articles 6 and 7 of the TEU or Article 13 of the EC Treaty, as a matter of urgency, to put an end to all violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all forms of discrimination related to religious freedom, with particular attention being paid to Greece?

(23 October 2000)

The question raised by the Honourable Member, which concerns facts, decisions and judgements which are purely domestic in nature, does not fall within the competence of the European Union.

The right of freedom of religion or belief, which is embodied in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as results from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, does form part of the general principles of Community Law (Article 6 of the TEU)(1). However, this provision of the Treaty applies only in situations covered by Community or Union law.

(1) Judgement of 27 October 1976, Case 130/75, Prais, ECR 1976 p. 1589.