The Head of the UGCC: EU accession talks are vital in fighting Russian aggression
This was reported by the Secretariat of the Head of the UGCC in Rome.
Jan Olbrycht, a Member of the European Parliament, greeted the UGCC delegation on behalf of the Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue Group. He emphasized the significance of the meeting, which "takes place at a special historical moment - the decision of the European Commission to start negotiations on Ukraine's accession to the EU," and thanked the Head of the UGCC for the Church's role in the conditions of war in Ukraine.
In his address to the meeting participants, His Beatitude Sviatoslav emphasized that Ukraine and its people are an integral part of European civilization. "We are a young state but an ancient European people with its European identity," noted the Primate. He recalled the visit of the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations to European institutions in Brussels in 2013 when "the religious environment of Ukraine, representing 95% of civil society, unanimously declared to the top officials of the European Union the unchangeability of the European choice of Ukrainian society." Therefore, the main purpose of the Head of the UGCC's visit to Brussels is to "reaffirm this desire in the conditions of a neo-colonial war that Russia is waging against Ukraine. Ukraine is waiting for an invitation to join the EU."
Speaking about the religious situation in Ukraine, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted, "The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations stands guard over the preservation of the principles of religious freedom but at the same time supports the steps of the Ukrainian state in liberating and protecting the religious environment from its instrumentalization by Russia, the aggressor country."
Special attention was paid to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. "As a result of Russian crimes in Ukraine, 14 million Ukrainians were forced to leave their homes, including 6 million women and children. Most of them are forced to stay in EU countries. As a Church, we do everything to ensure their rights and dignity are properly guaranteed and express deep gratitude to the European nations for solidarity and hospitality to Ukrainian migrants," said the Head of the UGCC.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav drew the attention of MEPs to the challenges of the upcoming winter: "The Russian aggressor deliberately seeks to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, systematically destroying its vital infrastructure, cities and villages, killing civilians, and trying to provoke an energy crisis. About 7 million Ukrainians this winter will again find themselves in conditions of a food crisis." Therefore, he called on representatives of the European Parliament to "do everything so that the war in Ukraine, by provoking a humanitarian crisis, does not cause a humanitarian catastrophe - the largest in Europe since World War II."
MEP Rasa Juknevičienė emphasized the importance of keeping the international community's attention on the war in Ukraine and noted Ukraine's progress in approaching EU membership. Michaela Šojdrová, a Czech MEP, raised the issue of school education in the conditions of war and forced migration. "Preserving the national identity of Ukrainian children in the conditions of enculturation is a challenge where the Church has a special significance," emphasized Ms. Šojdrová.