Latvian church wants guarantees for independence

The leader of Latvian’s biggest religious community, the Lutheran church, is asking for state guarantees after the country joins the EU. The church needed guarantees that after entering the EU, it will be able to remain independent in its opinions, archbishop Janis Vanags told the newspaper Diena, this week.

If the Baltic state would be refused to have such guarantees, Lutheran church would reconsider its position on Latvia's EU membership, Mr Vanags warned.

Homosexual marriages concerns
The Archbishop is particularly concerned about the praxis of some EU countries where marriages of homosexual couples are allowed.

However, other religious leaders in Latvia are sending calming signals, saying that the church and the state are separated in the EU and that the European block has no common rules on religion.

This is not the first religious discussion in connection with the EU enlargement in the accession countries. Following pressure from the Catholic Church in Poland, Warsaw put forward a request to the EU to include a declaration safeguarding Polish laws on the 'protection of human life'.

Malta also raised religious concerns and asked for a special declaration stating that abortions will remain banned in the Mediterranean Island after it enters the EU. However, these additions to the accession treaty were made before it was signed in April in Athens.