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EU Progress Report criticizes Turkey's efforts on rights for non-Muslim religious communities

An eagerly-awaited annual European Union progress report will criticize the EU-candidate Turkey later this month on November 7, 2007, according to Reuters News Agency. The report denounces Turkey's position on human rights, the role of the military, and its failure to open its ports to Cyprus, a recent draft showed. Most importantly, the draft also reports, "Limited progress was achieved on political reforms in 2007. Further efforts are needed in particular on freedom of expression, on civil control of the military and on the rights of non-Muslim religious communities." The Ecumenical Patriarchate is one example of the communities in which religious freedom is violated.

Recently, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew concluded two-days of meetings with five ministers of the new political leadership of newly-elected Turkish President Abdullah Gul. [View the press release on these meetings] During these meetings the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that religious freedom and human rights are fundamental to any democratic unity and are a God-given right to all people. His All Holiness told the ministers that there must be a political will and good disposal for resolution concerning Turkish "occupied" institutions that should be returned to the legal beneficiaries of the Greek Community of Istanbul.