Priest: EU Needs Firm Hand With Turkey

Doubt Its Compliance With Europe's Standards

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By Miriam Díez i Bosch

PADUA, Italy, DEC. 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- It is time for the European Union to act firmly with Turkey, which still does not have a clear sense of respect for religious freedom, says a specialist on the issue of rights in that country.

Jesuit Father Paolo Bizzeti said he considers last Sunday's assault on a priest in Turkey a wake-up call to the European Union.

Father Bizzeti, author of "Turchia. Guida per i Cristiani" (Turkey: Guide for Christians) and founder of the Amici del Medio Oriente (Friends of the Middle East) group concerned with religious issue, spoke to ZENIT about the stabbing of Capuchin Father Adriano Franchini.

"Without giving too much importance or launching shouts of scandal -- which are not lacking -- this umpteenth episode of violence shows a malaise spreading through a nation which, even if on one hand it has taken enormous steps in democratic and pluralist management, on the other hand, it has not developed a clear consciousness about religious freedom," Father Bizzeti contended.

He added: "In Turkey we find a tragic situation which, if not faced with due resolve by the government, places under debate the capacity of this great and noble country to accept the European model about defending minorities.

"The European Union has to react firmly to the repeated violent acts, which can not be classified as simple coincidences."

Father Franchini, 65, was discharged from the hospital Wednesday.