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Parliamentary question - E-013854/2015(ASW)Parliamentary question

Answer given by Mr Hahn on behalf of the Commission

The protection of religious freedom, cultural heritage and the administration of property according to the rule of law are amongst the fundamental values of the European Union. As such, these remain at the very core of the engagement by the Commission with both candidate and potential candidate countries. The Commission has always attached very high importance, and will continue to do so, to religious freedom in Albania, monitoring in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement the commitment of domestic authorities to uphold this right. Moreover, the Commission has currently established a specific platform, the EU-Albania High Level Dialogue, which further facilitates a more systematic engagement on rule of law matters and fundamental rights, through both technical working groups and political engagement.

In the 2015 Albania Report, the Commission stressed that freedom of thought, conscience and religion was generally upheld and religious tolerance prevailed. The report also mentions that in August, an Orthodox Church in Dhërmi was demolished by the Albanian authorities on the alleged grounds that it was illegally built, provoking protests by the Church's community. The Commission will continue to engage with the authorities of Albania in all relevant fora.