Ecumenical News International

EKD Bishop for ecumenical relations Bosse-Huber: Ukraine and EU must keep talking

February 20, 2014

Hanover (epd). Petra Bosse-Huber, the bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) responsible for ecumenical relations, has called for increased dialogue between Ukraine and the European Union. The EU dual strategy of considering sanctions while continuing with talks was "extraordinarily effective", Bosse-Huber told epd on Thursday.

At the same time she warned against over-simplifications and the cliché of "good" demonstrators and the "bad" government. The situation in the country was far too complex, she said, and the conflict could not be sustainably resolved without gestures of reconciliation.
In view of the recent outbreak of violence in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, Bosse-Huber expressed great concern. "We are calling for an end to violence and provocation and praying for a return to peaceful demonstrations," she said. At the same time she urged the government to show restraint.

Sanctions usually had a long-term effect, Bosse-Huber added. Anyone imposing them should be careful to avoid excessive hardship for the civilian population. In her view, the more urgent question was what could be done to de-escalate the situation as soon as possible. On Thursday the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland (Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Radoslaw Sikorski and Laurent Fabius), met in Kiev for talks with the government and the opposition.

The church landscape in Ukraine is very "colorful and fragmented", declared Bosse-Huber. The current conflict had prompted many Christians to get involved, e.g. members of Lutheran, Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Orthodox and Free Church congregations. A number of clergy were mediating between the parties to the conflict and attempting to launch peace talks. The role of the churches, she said, was to press for non-violence and create "moments of pause".

Human rights observers at the local level could also ensure that there were no violent attacks. The EKD bishop welcomed the fact that many church representatives and politicians were maintaining contact with people in Ukraine on a personal, humanitarian level. That was heightening the international awareness of events, she claimed, and was "extraordinarily helpful". Such gestures were sometimes more effective than "front-page headlines in the newspapers".

20 February 2014



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