10-th Dialogue EPP-Orthodox Church, Bratislava, 9-10 November 2006

10-th Dialogue EPP-Orthodox Church

Breaking New Ground for Europe -
Through Solidarity, Religion and Politics in Action
Bratislava, 9-10 November 2006

Latchezar Toshev

UDF –Bulgaria

Most Reverend Fathers,
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament and EPP-family,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’d like to admire the continuation of the Dialogue between EPP-ED Group and the Orthodox Church and to express my gratitude to His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and to Mr. Alojz Peterle for inviting me to participate once again in this event, as representative of the Union of Democratic Forces-Bulgaria.

Let me first of all to start with a reference to the Revelation 12:1, where is described a woman with a wreath of 12 stars which represents the Church and its 12 Apostles. The Church is a Community united around the legacy of Christ, around His New Testament, united by the Holy Spirit.
So, the Circle of 12 stars is a symbol of Community. A Community based on the Christian values.

Our United Europe uses the same symbol of a Community. European civilization and its values are based on Christian roots passing through centuries, forming our European Identity. That is why there is no room to hesitate to express this fact openly in the future European Constitution.
The Founding Fathers of the United Europe were Christian Democrats, and incorporated implicitly their Christian ideas for Europe in the symbols of the European Community and the Council of Europe. 
Recently, Vice-President of the European Parliament Mr. Mario Mauro stated that the Blue European Flag is a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s Shroud, which is one argument more in this respect.

If Europe is based on Christian values expressed not only by the Christian symbols but also by implementing the ethic principles in the European legal framework, demonstrated also by clear deeds of solidarity and policy of extended hand to be taken in every spheres, the anti-western allegations coming from communist and post-communist circles-mainly in the New Neighborhood, should be confronted by clear position of the Orthodox Church. The Church should stand against these trends of creation of anti-western feelings.

The Orthodox Christianity by definition denies any form of hate towards other human beings created also by God. The Orthodox Christianity rejects ethnically based conflicts, ethnocentrism and ethnophiletism and accepts normality of differences and the free choice of individual.

Theological differences could be debated, but they should not lead to violence.
This is the principle in the Orthodox Christianity which in some cases is not respected due to lack of proper religious education. No one who hates his brother can pretend and claim to be an Orthodox Christian. I am saying this being an Orthodox Christian myself and this is my understanding as such.

The Orthodox Christianity could give a good European example to be followed – especially with the Dialogue “Christianity-Islam” which is very topical of the day. It also could be supportive in the creation of better environment for Dialogue between Civilizations instead Clash of Civilizations in the New Neighborhood.

This is the reason for me to advocate strongly the Vlatadon Initiative “Reconciliation and Peace” promoted by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch in 2000. In my opinion, it could and should be extended to the region of Caucasus, Middle East and other regions where the implementation of a policy of mutual respect between those who are ethnically or religiously different is badly needed.

I’d like to point out as well, that we should give more publicity in Europe to the Thessaloniki process of 2003 when the European Council decided that the countries of Western Balkans will have a chance to join EU when they will meet the criteria for membership, and also to make known in greater extend the Dialogue EPP-Orthodox Church underlining its importance for the European process.

The spread and implementation of the Christian values could help our society to overcome the deep moral crisis, to avoid the trap of utilitarism, and consequently to achieve a real social cohesion.

The involvement in this process of the Orthodox Church – especially in the countries where it has significant influence, could be supportive not only for achievement of greater cohesion within the society, but also to achieve cohesion between Eastern and Western Europe.
I’d like also to admire the forthcoming visit of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to  the Council of Europe on January 22-nd, when He will address the Parliamentary Assembly , as a  significant event  which will give an opportunity to strengthen the Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and our Common European Family in greater extend.