Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 335

Meeting between Latvian EU Presidency & Church Representatives

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 17 gennaio 2015

BruxellesBrussels. Churches led wide-ranging discussions with the Latvian Presidency team on religious freedom and tolerance, climate change, migration, security strategy and conflict prevention and EU neighbourhood policy. Within a week of taking on the Presidency of the European Council, the Latvian Minister of Justice, Dzintars Rasnačs, received a delegation of representatives from the Christian churches of Europe to discuss the Latvian Presidency agenda. The meeting was held on Thursday 15 January at the Ministry of Justice in Riga. Delegates underlined the importance of dialogue on matters of respect, tolerance, and peace in the midst of diversity in Europe.
The strengthening of the Eastern Partnership dynamic was also discussed in view of the Riga Summit (May 2015). “We believe that ties between the countries involved in the Eastern Partnership need to be strengthened, says Guy Liagre (CEC), “we also welcome this opportunity for cooperation between the churches in Latvia with their international counterparts.”The Latvian presidency gave oversight of measures on climate protection and the environment in the run-up to the Paris UN Climate Summit (December 2015). “We pleaded that the challenges faced by developing countries in this regard be factored in to any proposals the EU might make at the Paris Summit,” said Fr Patrick Daly (COMECE). ‘The churches in the EU have demonstrated a commitment to energy efficiency in a wide range of micro schemes implemented by local church communities and will continue to do so.”The elaboration of a new European security strategy and conflict prevention will be impacted by the growing terrorist threat on EU territory. The churches acknowledged the acute concern about internal security but pleaded for a continuing respect for rights and freedoms of EU citizens.
COMECE and CEC representatives also tackled with the Latvian Presidency the unresolved challenges of migration and asylum. Discussion focused on member states’ responsibility to share the duty of hospitality to migrants from third countries, and the churches were keen to make the Presidency sensitive to the specific needs of Christians fleeing persecution.Minister Rasnačs, while acknowledging that the Latvian EU Presidency was in his early days, gave a frank and measured – albeit tentative – assessment of the difficulties but also of the opportunities in each of these policy areas. He urged the churches to contribute to public debate on these issues. The minister closed the meeting by assuring the visitors from abroad present in the room that the government of Latvia was very committed to dialogue with church communities and that the Prime Minister consulted regularly with religious leaders in a “Spiritual Council.”

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