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Italian Foreign Minister: "Christian roots of European identity must be defended"

Prague, 12.2.2011 15:57, (ROMEA)

Speaking last week after a meeting with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said a multicultural European Union will be weak unless it shares common principles and values. Frattini also said he was in favor of a greater defense of the Christian roots of European identity. According to Frattini, the Czech Republic and Italy share the same opinions about multiculturalism and the defense of Christianity.

"We agree that a multicultural Europe without shared values and without commonly shared principles will be a weak Europe," Frattini told journalists. "The Prime Minister of Great Britain (David Cameron) has also recognized that multicultural models fail if not shored up by shared common values."

Cameron recently spoke of the "failure" of Britain's policy of tolerance for minorities. Last Saturday the British PM declared that Britain must build up a stronger national awareness in order to prevent people from turning to extremism. The opposition and the Muslim community in Britain criticized his remarks.

Last October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made similar remarks, declaring that the idea of multiculturalism had "completely failed" in Germany. She sent a message to Muslims wanting to live in Germany that they must respect the German Constitution, not Islamic sharia law. In her opinion, very little had been required of immigrants in the past. She now believes they should learn German in order to be able to attend school and then work.

Both Frattini and Schwarzenberg also spoke of the need to defend human rights and Christians in the world. "I appreciate Minister Frattini's courage very much. He was the only one to really significantly stand up for Christians in the Middle East, who have come under a great deal of pressure in recent years," Schwarzenberg said. Frattini wants to reintroduce the question of Christian identity as a topic at the EU once more. In response to last week's attack by Muslim extremists in Indonesia on Christian churches, Schwarzenberg declared that Christians everywhere must be defended.

AFP reported last week that a group of Muslim extremists in Indonesia set two Christian churches on fire and ransacked others. During clashes with police, the extremists demanded the death penalty for a Christian whom a court there has convicted of profaning Islam. "I hope the Indonesian government takes adequate steps," Frattini said. "Human rights are being completely violated there."

In response to last week's meeting between Frattini and Schwarzenberg, activists in the Czech Republic who held a demonstration last month against the discrimination of Christians and drew up a petition against their persecution reminded the ministers of their previous declarations. Last month they called on Schwarzenberg to support a proposal made by Italy and other EU Member States to include the topic at the EU Foreign Ministers' meeting.

Czech President Václav Klaus and Czech PM Petr Nečas also met Frattini during last week's visit. Frattini and Schwarzenberg signed a new Czech-Italian agreement on collaboration in the area of culture and science to replace a document from 1971.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, Czech Press Agency, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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