Saturday, May 28, 2011

Slovenia part 2 (of 2): about lobby groups, undemocratic means, interference in internal politics and the beautiful surroundings

The second day we had a meeting with the civic initiative committee. It was encouraging for me to speak with two of their representatives. Pressed by (mostly West-European) lobby groups, the government wants to change the family laws in order to allow same-sex marriages. That this is against the will of the majority of the Slovenian population (as the polls show us), does not matter too much for the government. Unfortunately, this trend you see in many European countries nowadays.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Slovenia Part 1(of 2): Post-card scenes and empty places

After the trainings in Croatia we drove further to Slovenia. There we were going to meet representatives of the civic initiation committee to look if there is a possible way to collaborate together to promote basic Christian family values in Slovenia.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Croatia: About delay, trainings, EU, and discussions

As a following up of the Balkan trip Auke Minnema and me went to Croatia to train the people of the initiative group there. After this we plan to go to Slovenia, the country we unfortunately could not visit the last time during our Balkantrip.

Kyrgyzstan part II (final): about society, cowboys and timezones

The second day, our new friends showed me the capital Bishkek. A quite Asian-Soviet-European city with many parks. In front of the parliament a monument reminds us about the victims of the last year's war. After this, I gave the second part of the course. The course was nearly finished or I was brought to a group
existing of Representatives of Christian NGOs and Christian journalists.

Kyrgyzstan part I: A special guest and common values

After I visited Russia, I visited the republic Kyrgyzstan. Many probably remember the country from the bloody conflict with the Uzbecs shortly after a sort of revolution made an end of a dictatorial regime. I was asked to give a training about the basics of Christian Democracy to the leadership of a new party called "7 April" (referring to their revolution last year) and to an informal group with Christian representatives of NGOs and journalists.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ECPM attacked by the European Humanist Federation

As a reaction on the Green Paper of the European Commission concerning the automatic recognition of civil status documents (see the article on "Will the EU define marriage"), the European Humanist Federation did not comment to the questions asked by the Commission. Instead, the Federation is attacking the ECPM, CARE, Human Dignity Watch, the World Youth Alliance, and Salt and Light. Calling us: "efficiently organised and well financed but unrepresentative minority religious pressure groups whose aim appears to be to stifle the initiative at birth." And further: "It is our opinion that they are not representative even of most Christians in Europe." Their reaction on the green paper you find here

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pavel Sievarynets was sentenced 3 years of forced labour camp

BCD leader Pavel Sieviarynets was sentenced to 3 years of forced labour camp; he was set free in the court. Iryna Khalip and Siarhej Martseleu, who were judged together with Pavel, received 2 years of imprisonment with arrest of judgement for 2 years. Relatives and friends, including supporters of the BCD, which came into court with flowers, could meet and embrace Paul's right in the courthouse.

In his first interview after his release Pavel Sieviarynets said he did not recognize the sentence as fair. He will fight for the liberation of other political prisoners, in particular already today he is going to visit a number of courts. When asked about tortures Pavel confessed that for him personally the most severe torture was spiritual when he was not allowed to attend church and meet with a priest.

Now within three days Sieviarynets needs to return to the place of his residence in Vitebsk and wait for the transfer to a labour camp. After liberation Pavel immediately went to the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Minsk. In the KGB prison he asked for a meeting with a priest more than 10 times. Pavel Sieviarynets was accused of organizing and active participating activities that breach public order (Part 1 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code).He was arrested on 20 December 2011 directly after the presidential elections and since then he was kept in the KGB prison in Minsk.

Another BCD co-chairman and ex-presidential candidate, Vital Rymasheuski, is still undergoing court trial procedures. He is also being tried under the Article 342 of the Criminal Code.

The Belarusian Christian Democracy implemented a successful presidential campaign in 2010. According to the data of the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS, 3,7 % of the Belarusian population voted for the BCD presidential candidate, Vital Rymasheuski. Vladimir Niakliaeu got 8,3 % of the voters according to IISEPS; he was followed by Andrei Sannikov with 6.1% of votes. Yaroslav Romanchuk got 3.2% and Ales Michalevic - 2.7%. Nikolai Statkevich, according to the poll, got 1.7% of the votes, Ryhor Kastusiou - 1.6%, Viktor Tereshchenko - 0.6%, Dmitri Uss - 0.5%. All Lukashenko's opponents gathered together 28.4% of the votes, while 5.1% of people voted against and 3.8% of the respondents refused to answer the question. Lukashenko himself got 51,1 % of votes according to the Institute.

In Minsk Vital Rymasheuski got 5.9% of votes according to the IISEPS; he is preceeded only by Yaroslav Romanchuk with 6.3%. Andrei Sannikov got in 5.9%, Niakliaeu - 4.9% and Statkevich 3%.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ombudsman: Commission apologises for forgetting Easter and Christmas in school diary

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has closed a case after the European Commission apologised for omitting Christian holidays in a school diary it had published for 2010/2011. This follows a complaint from an Irish priest who submitted that the diary did not mention Easter and Christmas, although it contained certain non-Christian holidays, such as the Jewish and Islamic New Years.

Irish priest complains about missing Christian holidays

Every year, the European Commission produces the Europa Diary for students in secondary schools in the EU. It serves as a tool for homework and other notes. The edition for the school year 2010/2011 was distributed to more than three million students.

In January 2011, an Irish priest complained to the Ombudsman that the Commission had omitted Christian holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, while including holidays of other religions in the diary. He claimed that the Commission should apologise for the error and recall the already distributed edition for 2010/2011.

In February 2011, the Ombudsman informed the complainant that the Commission had published an apology for what it called the regrettable error of omitting Christian holidays in the diary on its website. Furthermore, the Commission sent a corrigendum to all teachers who had ordered the 2010/2011 edition. It included a one-page addition to the diary showing the main public holidays of the EU Member States.

In the Ombudsman's view, the actions which the Commission took to rectify the error were reasonable. He further considered that it would be disproportionate to reprint the 2010/2011 edition. Accordingly, the Ombudsman closed the case without further inquiries.

The Ombudsman's complete decision is available at: