APPEAL BY PATRIARCH ALEXY II OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA ON THE ARMED ACTION AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA
NATO's hypocrisy, lawlessness, sin
For Immediate Release,
Yesterday evening and through the night NATO subjected Yugoslavia to numerous air-strikes. What has been repeatedly warned against has happened: blood was shed, including the blood of many civilians, while situation in Kosovo and around it has been wholly destabilized. Over dozen countries have come to stand against one nation, destroying military as well as purely civilian objectives. Enormous damage has been done to the present world order that has preserved Europe and all humanity from a major war for over fifty years.
We are told that the armed action is aimed at achieving peace. Is it not a hypocrisy? If people are killed "for the sake of peace", if the right of an entire nation to decide its own destiny is trampled upon, then is it not that some other goals stand behind these calls for peace? A group of states, without obtaining any legitimatization from the world community, has appropriated the right to judge what is good and what is bad, who is to be executed and who is to be pardoned. Attempts are undertaken to make us accustomed to the idea that power is the sole measure-stick of truth and morality. The rude economic and political pressure which has been practiced by Western states for servicing their interests throughout the recent years has given place to an open violence.
The good world should realize clearly that what we see is an attempt to force other's will on a nation, to assert double standards, to replace the legitimate aspirations of humanity with the interests of a small group of people. It should be firmly said: not all that is good for particular circles in the West is good for the world.
Today I would like to appeal first of all to Christians in those countries whose troops are involved in the military actions. What is being done is a sin before God and a crime from the point of view of international law. Many lawless actions were committed allegedly for peace, for spreading allegedly "freedom and civilization". History, however, teaches us that a sovereign nation cannot be deprived of its history, its shrines, its right to live according to its own identity. If the Western nations do not understand it, the judgment of history will be fatal, for cruelty damages not only the victim but also the aggressor.
I make this appeal to the Serbian people and the Kosovo Albanians: stop the strife and begin dialogue immediately. It is perfectly clear that the Serbs will never agree with the estrangement of the Kosovo region which is and was their spiritual center from time immemorial. It is equally clear that the Albanians will always live in that land, and the fratricidal strife will flame up again and again if the most favouralbe conditions possible are not created for them. Both sides should realize the reality existing in the region and develop their life, building on each other's legitimate aspirations.
The NATO military actions have not drawn near peace, but have drawn it away. Moreover, they have generated a threat of conflict growth many times what it is now, for they have challenged the just world order. And turning to God today with a prayer for those injured and killed, I once again express hope that peace and common sense will prevail and the sword raised over the still free people of Yugoslavia will be stopped.
+ALEXY, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
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Last revised: April 28, 1999