Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-2200/00
by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Commission
(3 July 2000)
Subject: Religious freedom in Greece
Chara Kalomiri, a Greek citizen, is involved in a legal case that raises grave concerns about respect for religious freedom in Greece. After having been accused by the authorities on Mount Athos of directing, from September 1994 to March 1995, a "centre of practical psychological philosophy" on the Chalcidice Peninsula, she was initially convicted by the Greek courts in 1997 and then, after the Supreme Court had quashed the sentence, convicted a second time after a retrial. The judges gave as grounds for their verdict the fact that the "Buddhist place of worship, intended for meditation" had not received the requisite authorisation from the Ministry for Education and Religious Affairs, which authorisation is granted only after hearing the opinion of the Orthodox hierarchy.
Does the Commission not consider that, as respect for religious freedom is a fundamental human right and a principle common to all the Member States, urgent action should be taken pursuant to Articles 6 and 7 of the TEU and Article 13 of the TEC to prevent any infringement of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and any discrimination on the grounds of religion, with particular reference to Greece?
Answer given by Mr Prodi
on behalf of the Commission
(8 December 2000)
Having examined the Honourable Member's question, the Commission considers that the action of the Member State in question does not fall within the scope of Community law. The Court of Justice has consistently refused to judge the respect of fundamental rights by the Member States when they are acting outside the scope of Community law. Consequently, and regardless of whether or not a fundamental right has been violated, the Commission does not have jurisdiction in this case to open infringement proceedings within the meaning of Article 226 (former Article 169) of the EC Treaty against Greece.
The Commission would also draw the Honourable Member's attention to the possibility that, after exhausting the national avenues of appeal against the conviction, the citizen in question could bring a case before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
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