“EU calls for end to ‘bitterness’ with Muslim world,” from DPA, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
BRUSSELS – The European Union on Monday said it was time for an end to “bitterness” between Europe and Islamic countries over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
“We must concentrate on the next steps and future activities to reduce tensions and become more aware of what unites us rather than what divides us,” Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik told reporters.
Both sides must make a “real effort to put some of the bitterness behind us,” Plassnik underlined. Austria is current president of the 25-nation EU.
Diplomats said a statement on the issue released by EU foreign ministers was the result of a compromise between governments like
Britain which wanted more conciliatory language towards Muslim countries and others, including the Netherlands, which insisted the bloc must not be seen to be apologising on the issue.
The final statement voiced “deep concern at the events that followed the publication of cartoons” and said EU governments “acknowledged and regretted” that the caricatures were considered offensive and distressing by Muslims across the world.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the 25-nation bloc strongly supported freedom of the press and the freedom of expression but added: “We regret that other people’s religious feelings have been hurt.”