Churches call for halt to NATO bombing

By on May 1, 1999

Kukes is the main entry point for refugees, here receiving food. More than 200,000 refugees have flowed into this town of 20,000 inhabitants.

Geneva

International church bodies with headquarters here today appealed to the United Nations (UN) to initiate immediate efforts to reach a just and lasting peace in the Kosovo conflict.

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“The NATO-led intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia manifests the failure of the international community to achieve a credible, negotiated solution,” says the text of a joint letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, from the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), with the support of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).

The letter goes on to say that each day of bombing makes the solution more distant and increases the risk of regionali-zation of the conflict. It also heightens the danger of a renewed divide in Europe.

WCC General Secretary, Konrad Raiser, CEC General Secretary, Keith Clements, LWF General Secretary, Ishmael Noko and WARC General Secretary, Milan Opocensky, therefore appealed for an immediate moratorium on the military interventions, in order to allow for a renewal of the political process under the auspices of the UN.

The text of the letter reads as follows:

“Dear Secretary General,

“We write to express our profound concern at the current military intervention of NATO in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and appeal to you to immediately initiate efforts of the United Nations to seek a just and lasting peace to the conflict in Kosovo.

“The NATO-led intervention in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia manifests the failure of the international community to achieve a credible, negotiated solution.

“Each day of bombing makes the solution more distant, and increases the risk of regionali-zation of the conflict. It also enhances the danger of a renewed divide within Europe.

“We therefore appeal for an immediate moratorium on the NATO military intervention, in order to allow for a renewal of the political process under your leadership and under the auspices of the United Nations.

“We agree with the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle, head of the Serbian Orthodox Church on March 25, 1999 urging ‘the governments of all countries of the world for their action in order that the bombardment should be stopped and that a just solution to the current crisis may be found through negotiations. The Serbian Orthodox Church appeals to the military and civilian authorities of Serbia and Yugoslavia to do everything possible so that peace may be established.

“We affirm the declaration of Kosovo religious leaders for a nonviolent resolution of the conflict based on guaranteed rights of all communities.

“We reiterate our conviction that decisive progress was made in the Rambouillet process towards a durable political settlement, and this should not be lost.

“In the present situation, however, we believe that the United Nations alone can offer a framework for a new initiative which can break the present deadlock.

“On behalf of our member churches we confirm our willingness to back and support any initiative taken by Your Excellency to stop the present acts of military violence and seek a nonviolent resolution of this conflict in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.”

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