Figel: EU Needs Special Representative for Religious Freedom

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KDH chairman Jan Figel (stock photo by TASR)

Brussels, January 27 (TASR-correspondent) – European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday met chairman of the Slovak Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) Jan Figel concerning an initiative presented by the latter last year for creating the post of special EU representative for religious freedom worldwide, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

“It’s a reaction to the current situation in the Middle East, but also in other corners of the world that are witnessing a decline in religious freedom … with this resulting in persecution, liquidation and even genocide,” Figel told TASR, adding that the EU should be a worldwide herald of fundamental freedoms, including the protection of human dignity.

Figel noted that Juncker had known about his initiative, and that he promised to debate it with European Parliament President Martin Schulz in order to gain broader political and institutional support for it.

“I believe that also with respect to the ongoing and growing migration crisis, this proposal is one of the possible and necessary answers. If Europe doesn’t prevent fundamental rights in the world from weakening, including religious freedom and freedom of conscience, it will face ever bigger threats and pay an ever higher price for not helping humanity enough,” said Figel, adding that his initiative has already been welcomed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, for example.