Vienna, 30 June 2010 Press release

Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger on the re-examination of the Crucifix Case by the European Court of Human Rights

Vienna, 30 June 2010 – “I welcome the re-examination of the Crucifix Case by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. In its judgements, the Grand Chamber has repeatedly demonstrated that it is fully aware of Europe’s cultural, religious and humanistic heritage,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger in response to today’s oral proceedings in the case of Lautsi v. Italy before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Foreign Minister referred to the 19 November 2009 parliamentary resolution which expressed concern as to a possible restriction and undermining of the right to the public exercise of religion as a result of the original judgement. Numerous other European states share Austria’s attitude in this issue.

“I expect the Grand Chamber to take into account the legal understanding of the signatories to the Convention, according to which the principle of freedom of religion does not interfere with the presence of religious symbols in public places. Only by way of this can the principle of the unrestricted freedom of religion be guaranteed,” stated Spindelegger.

“Cultural diversity, social peace and mutual tolerance constitute the fundamental pillars of our common European values, which have been - among other factors - decisively influenced by the occidental Christian tradition. Religious symbols have their legitimate place in this tradition,” concluded the Foreign Minister.

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