Thursday

6th Oct 2022

Turkey suggests EU should strengthen anti-defamation laws

Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul has called upon EU states to extend their anti-defamation laws to ensure respect for Islam, an idea rejected by the Netherlands which also opposes a European Commission initiative for a joint UN resolution with islamic states.

The Turkish minister was attending a two-day informal EU foreign ministers' meeting in Salzburg on Friday and Saturday (10-11 March) where he opened a discussion on the dialogue between Europe and the muslim world on Saturday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

According to a written text of Mr Gul's address circulated among journalists, he stated "We cannot afford to see that people around the world start believing that respect for faith and religion do not make part of European values, whereas the opposite is true."

Mr Gul added "As a matter of fact, there are legal restraints against such defamation. However, these restraints sometimes only apply to the established religions of the concerned countries."

"I would like to call on you here to start a process of re-examination of your legislations to ensure that these restraints apply to all religions equally."

Mr Gul's remarks appear to point to the double standards of EU countries which have legislation against antisemitism, but not against islamophobia.

Asked by reporters about Mr Gul's ideas, the Dutch foreign minister Bernard Bot said "We have freedom of speech. That means that Mr Gul can say what he wants and I can say what I want. And I think that this [Mr Gul's idea] is superfluous."

Per Stig Moller, Denmark's foreign minister, said "His [Mr Gul's] only recommendation was a review of the laws. But we already have those kind of laws. So he came with a proposal which has already been fulfilled."

UN resolution

Mr Bot in Salzburg also rejected an idea by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the European Commission to draw up a common UN resolution between the EU and islamic states, proposed on Friday.

In a paper presented to foreign ministers, Mr Solana and external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner proposed to draft a joint UN resolution on religious tolerance with the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

"The EU could…draft a new, joint resolution underscoring the need to promote tolerance, dialogue and mutual respect among peoples of all religions and beliefs," the paper reads.

The initiative would end the practice of a yearly "ritual dance" of the EU and the OIC introducing own UN resolutions on religion, while voting the other party’s texts down, diplomats said.

The paper explains that so far, the EU has always tabled its own UN resolution on "The Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief", but all 25 EU members voted against an OIC resolution on "Combating Defamation of Religions."

But the initiative did not gain unanimous support among ministers, diplomats said, with a couple of states along with the Netherlands expressing uneasiness about the plan.

"The Netherlands has no need for a further precision of freedom of speech," said Mr Bot.

"A new declaration would add nothing to earlier declarations and would only make things more complicated."

"It is the highest time to start the practical dialogue between cultures," Mr Bot stated, referring to various civil society-based initatives with the southern mediterranean region and Asia.

Copenhagen is more positive on the idea of a common EU-OIC resolution at the UN, with Mr Stig Moller saying it is "woth trying to see if ends could meet."

But the Danish minister also indicated "Europe cannot accept a text in the UN which demands that we change our laws on freedom of expression."

Feature

Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

In Warsaw and Budapest, the prime ministers were quick to congratulate the new Italian leader, who — they hope — will back them in their battles with the EU over civil rights, rule of law and democratic backsliding.

EU seeks crisis powers to take control over supply chains

The Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) introduces a staged, step-by-step, approach — providing emergency powers to the EU Commission to tackle any potential threat which could trigger disruptions or shortages of key products within the EU.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden: Nord Stream probe points to 'gross sabotage'
  2. Orbán rails against Russia sanctions at Prague summit
  3. MEPs urge inquiry into Mahsa Amini killing and Iran sanctions
  4. Thousands of Hungarian students and teachers protest
  5. Swedish MEP cuts hair mid-speech to support Iran women
  6. Danish general election called for 1 November
  7. Slovenia legalises gay marriage, adoption
  8. Russia's stand-in EU ambassador reprimanded on Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  2. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  4. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  5. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”

Latest News

  1. What actually happened at the 'most complicated election in the world'?
  2. Europe lays aside quarrels to isolate Putin
  3. Spyware-hacked MEPs still seeking answers
  4. EU leaders discuss gas price cap — amid rationing fear
  5. Germany braces for criticism of national €200bn energy fund
  6. The fossil-fuel agenda behind EU's carbon-capture plans
  7. Four weeks to COP27 — key issues and challenges
  8. EU wants to see US list on Russia financing of politicians

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us