Metropolitan Anthony tells about 3 stepping stones to peace in Donbas
Achieving peace in the Donbas depends on the confidence of the parties, and the UOC is ready to be a mediator to establish mutual understanding, Met. Anthony explained.
On February 10, 2020, the UOC Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) of Boryspil and Brovary, spoke in an interview with Vesti about ways to resolve the conflict in the Donbas and the role of the UOC in this process.
The hierarch noted, "Following the visit to Italy, the head of the Ukrainian state, Vladimir Zelensky, emphasized that he would like to become the 'president of peace', turning the war from harsh reality into a terrible memory."
According to His Eminence, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is ready to support the president’s peacekeeping initiatives. He recalled that His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine clearly said about it this during the meeting of Vladimir Zelensky with the religious leaders of Ukraine on December 4, 2019.
“Of course, we all perfectly understand how difficult and multifaceted the task is. However, a journey of a thousand miles is known to begin with a single step. It can and must be taken,” the hierarch said.
He outlined three steps that need to be taken towards peace.
“First, it is mandatory to achieve complete ceasefire and hostilities. This is an essential prerequisite for starting a full and effective dialogue. After all, while guns are speaking in the Donbas, while blood is pouring and death is reaping its bitter fruits, no normal conversation – at whatever level – is possible.
Secondly, the quality and prospects of dialogue on peace depend on the level of confidence of the parties in each other. In this context, our Church is ready to become one of the liaisons contributing to the establishment of the necessary mutual understanding. After all, we know very well how people live on opposite sides of the demarcation line, particularly because some of our dioceses are simultaneously located in both controlled and uncontrolled territories.
No less significant is the fact that all these years the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has never divided Ukrainians into “right” and “wrong”; besides, in any political situation, it has invariably and firmly upheld the position on the need for peace in the east of the country. It is precisely these moments that now allow us not only to look directly into the eyes of each of the parties, but also to act as a mediator that can help them find appropriate “areas of common interest”.
Thirdly, not only the right words are needed, but also deeds that bring together much faster. We have many directions where we could now build the foundations for the reign of peace both on our land and in the souls of our people. We are talking about joint humanitarian projects, charitable assistance, adoption of the necessary laws, etc.”
Metropolitan Anthony stressed, “The main thing is not to be afraid to go towards each other. Although this will not happen immediately, not at the fastest pace, not in all areas, but in this matter it is extremely important to simply get off the ground; to move really, not for the sake of a “beautiful picture”.
And let the words of St. Philaret (Drozdov) be a pole-star for all of us along the way: “Bear in mind the past; trust in the Lord in the future; use the present for the good.”