World Council of Churches Office of Communication|
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
MESSAGE TO THE CONFERENCE ON PEACE
The religious leaders of the Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Islamic communities in Kosovo are attending the "Conference on Peace and Tolerance in Kosovo", which was organized by the US-based interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation. WCC representative at the meeting is Fr Leonid Kishkovsky from the Orthodox Church in America, who is also a member of the WCC Executive Committee.
Message of WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, to the Conference on Peace and Tolerance in Kosovo, Vienna, 16-18 March 1999: "To the distinguished participants in the First Summit of Kosovo Religious Leaders,
The World Council of Churches (WCC) has closely monitored the civil conflict in Kosovo over recent months, and welcomes all attempts to seek a just and peaceful settlement to the crisis in the region. The WCC supports the statements and actions of the churches and religious communities that seek to promote a lasting peace, including the present summit of Kosovo religious leaders of the Serbian Orthodox, Catholic and Islamic communities.
As churches and religious leaders in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and elsewhere have said from the beginning of this conflict, violence cannot bring peace. The use of force and intimidation cannot secure a lasting and just solution to this complex and painful conflict. The only viable future for the region lies in a negotiated settlement based on the establishment of full democracy and respect for the human rights of all communities, majority and minority, and the due recognition of the need for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. The WCC affirms the principle that the representatives of all national communities in Kosovo should be involved in any political settlement, if this is to be just and durable.
The Council condemns in the strongest terms the use of violence in any form by the conflicting parties. The efforts by the international and regional organizations and mechanisms to actively promote a settlement to the conflict, in particular the Rambouillet peace process, and all supportive measures short of military force to achieve this end, are commendable and need to be encouraged. The WCC welcomes the active involvement of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council. The WCC emphasizes the necessity for the international institutions to ensure that any future political settlement enhances stability in the region and builds confidence among all its peoples.
The Council remains greatly concerned about the humanitarian disaster created by the armed conflict which has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousand of civilians. The WCC therefore urges all parties, and especially the authorities in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to honour their commitments to maintain and uphold the right to access by international humanitarian organizations to the affected region, and to facilitate the safe return of all those displaced by the fighting. The WCC, through its emergency office ACT-Action by Churches Together, will continue to provide assistance to the victims of the humanitarian crisis, regardless of their origin.
The WCC expresses its profound solidarity with all the peoples of Kosovo, and joins the common prayer of the faithful of all religious communities that justice and peace may be restored in this land."
Contact: Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.