Greek govt speaks up in defense of Holy Mount Athos monasteries
06.09.2003 - By Sergei Latyshev - ATHENS, September 6 (Itar-Tass) - Greek
government on Friday voiced its support to the status of the Holy Mount
Athos, a de facto monastic republic in Northeast Greece, from attacks by
the European Parliament, which is seeking an abolition of a millennium-old
ban on women's trips to the Mount Athos territory.
The status of the area is linked to a thousand years of tradition, the
Eastern Orthodox Creed, and monastic lifestyle, and a stereotyped
application of the principles of equal opportunities for access, free trade
and competition confronts the fundamental concept of Mount Athos, said
Tassos Giannitsis, First Deputy Foreign Minister.
Georgios Katiforis, head of the PASOK ruling party's delegation to the
European Parliament recalled in a letter to the parliament presidium that
the special status of Mount Athos had been confirmed when Greece joined the
The European MPs cannot go back on that decision, Katiforis recalled.
Greek made the demarches after the European Parliament had endorsed a
report on the observance of human rights in the EU.
The document proposes, among other things, that Greece should abolish a law
on prison terms of two to twelve months for the women trying to penetrate
the Mount Athos area.
The European Parliament also demanded that Greece abolish punishments for
religious proselytism and allow construction of mosques and Moslem