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Gay rights is EU entry criterion, Brussels says

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Fascinating story from EU Observer.
For his part, Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, an ecumenical officer at the Armenian catholic church, made no bones about the situation.

"It's not in our culture to accept homosexuals. I mean, we don't reject the person, but we reject the sin and this is our freedom as Armenians. Our culture does not accept this," he told EUobserver in a recent interview in Etchmiadzin, the official seat of the Armenian church.

He said Armenia upholds basic human rights, but gay rights are a "secondary" issue where difference of opinion should be permitted.

"We have our cultural differences which should be respected ... These are questions on which you don't have consensus also in Europe. Europe is not just western Europe. For instance, Poland is a strong Christian country, or Romania or Bulgaria, or Serbia - Armenia is closer to these countries in its understanding," he explained.

EU entrants in some cases negotiate opt-outs from EU laws or transition periods for implementing sensitive parts of the rulebook.
You don't get to opt out on my humanity.  And the desire to do so speaks volumes as to whether this country, or any, is ready for EU membership.

It's a wonder to me why the EU would even consider accepting countries like Armenia as members in the first place.  These are not European countries.  Hell, even some of eastern Europe's entry into the EU, this soon, is questionable (I question the timing, not the overall eligibility).  I thin it's a mistake for the EU to grow so quickly, and to incorporate nations that are so different culturally and economically.  The cultural difference causes problems politically, and the economic differences have already begun to blow up in the EU's face.

Again, I'm not saying that you tell Eastern Europe, for example, that it never can have full membership.  But things should have been slowed down until Eastern Europe caught up with Western Europe in terms of its respect for human rights.

The question of Armenia goes to a larger question of just what is and isn't "Europe," but it also goes to the question of how countries with conflicting social values can successfully integrate on anything other than economic terms.

Now, some would argue that integrating Eastern Europe into Western Europe, and adding Armenia too, helps to force those countries to adopt western human rights.  And maybe.  It might also permit those countries veto power over our human rights.

I get the idea of adding Turkey to the EU, even though again, Turkey is arguably half-European, half Middle Eastern.  Turkey is strategically important to Europe (and the US), and integration advocates belief that closer ties to Europe will help modernize Turkey politically, which helps us all.  And perhaps Armenia has similar strategic assets (due to its location).  But then the EU stops being the EU and starts being NATO or some similar strategic organization rather than an ethno-centric, "European," one.  And I thought the new Europe was all about "Europe."

In that case, why not welcome America into the EU as well?  (And trust me, I'd welcome it personally, but logically it's not terribly clear that we're "European," though you could argue that we're as European as Turkey, and probably more-so than Armenia.)

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