Global churches call for negotiation over Caucasus

By agency reporter
13 Aug 2008

A public statement from the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) has called for prayers and assistance for those affected by the recent conflict in the Caucasus.

The war begun five days ago and despite its brevity has killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands others and severely damaged homes, buildings and property in several cities.

The statement issued by the WCC and CEC expressed alarm and distress at the violent events of recent days in the Caucasus. "The use of force in the dispute over South Ossetia and Abkhazia has cost the precious lives of civilians and soldiers, risks destabilizing a fragile region, and reawakens deep fears there and far beyond" the statement reads.

The statement affirmed the interventions of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church as well as the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia, all of which have called for a ceasefire, a negotiated solution to the conflict and urgent relief for those affected.

"We encourage churches around the world to support these sister churches and the international ecumenical emergency appeal initiated by Action by Churches Together," the statement says. "The well being of people who have fled their homes and of those whose homes have been destroyed must be a high priority in the coming days."

The joint WCC-CEC statement also calls for “military forces to return to positions held before the current violence." It affirms that "it is fitting that Europe gives leadership in making peace." It calls on the United Nations to "ensure the territorial integrity and political independence of Georgia in accordance with the UN Charter and by collective action of the UN Security Council."

The statement adds that "authorities who resorted to the use of force are to be held accountable for the loss of life they have caused."

The full text of the WCC-CEC statement is available at:
http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6188

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