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Russian Orthodox Church
(Moscow Patriarchate)


Situation Kosovo



On March 25, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, sent a letter to the Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The full text of the letter is given below:


Your Holiness,

beloved in the Lord brother and concelebrant at the altar of God! It was with a deep pain of heart that the whole Russian Orthodox Church heart received news on the bombing of the territory of the Republic of Yugoslavia fraternal to the Russian Orthodox people. The blood of peaceful people is being shed on the much-suffered Serbian land again, and the most unprotected, old people, women and children are perishing. The brutal military force is destroying dwelling houses, industrial objects and monuments of culture which have been carefully preserved by the Serbian people. In spite of the protests of many sensible people, the rude pragmatism of the NATO military politicians prevailed over the responsible good sense and patient and painstaking diplomatic work for the peaceful solution of the Kosovo problem. Yet the believing heart knows that the blood of the innocent victims cries to God and that God is never mocked. No good objectives can be achieved through evil means!

Kosovo for the Orthodox Serbs is not only a geographical object on the map, but the sacred place of their forefathers and the land of old church and monasteries which have intransient spiritual and cultural importance. The Russian Orthodox Church is in profound sympathy with the position of the fraternal Serbian Orthodox Church's authorities on the inadmissibility of solving the problem of Kosovo through NATO military means, as this conflict is not just a territorial one. A significant role in the just solution of the conflict must be played by a thoughtful evaluation of the national, religious, ethnic, psychological and spiritual factors of the confrontation in Kosovo.

We are saddened by the fact that these circumstances are not always taken into consideration in the process of negotiations and that immediate political objectives sometimes have priority over justice and adherence to the truth of God.

Your Holiness! On behalf of the whole Russian Orthodox Church I state our fraternal support and our love to you and to the whole Serbian Orthodox Church. Our archpastors and pastors, the monastics and laymen, all Orthodox Christians of the Russian Church join in their prayers to the Lord for the suffering Serbian brothers and sisters and for all innocent sufferers in the Serbian land. We offer up our prayers for the intercession to the Protectress of Christendom, our Most Holy Lady and the Mother of God and to all saints, so that the Almighty God in his righteous judgement and ineffable mercy takes away sorrow from the Serbian land and we can 'walk before the Lord in the land of the living' (Ps.116:9).

It is with all my heart that I ask Your Holiness to convey to the suffering flock of the Serbian Orthodox Church our support, love and the firm faith in that the long-awaited peace will reign in your Fatherland through the efforts of all sensible people and we can jubilantly say the words of the Prophet Isaiah: 'Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation' (Is.25:9).

With fraternal love in Christ, + ALEXY, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA.



Today, on 26 March 1999, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, sent messages to Mr.Kofi Anna, Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation, and to Mr.William Clinton, President of the USA, in connection with air- and missile-strikes by the NATO military contingent on the territory of the Union Republic of Yugoslavia.

The messages say in particular: 'It was with pain that I learnt of the air-strikes of NATO against military and civilian targets in the Union Republic of Yugoslavia. The attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church to this action, that we consider unlawful and unjust, is expressed in my Statement of 24 March 1999, and my Appeal of 25 March 1999, the texts of which are enclosed.

His Holiness underlined that the world order of the 21st century, the future of Europe and all humanity largely depend on the outcome of these dramatic days. The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church called to do anything possible to stop the bloodshed. His Holiness the Patriarch expressed his conviction in that 'only peaceful means of resolving the problem of Kosovo will bring real benefit to the inhabitants of this region and all the Balkan region. The suppression of the will of a whole nation will never bring a lasting peace, but, on the contrary, will create the danger of multiple escalation and continuation of the conflict.



The bombing of the territory of Yugoslavia has caused an extreme concern among all Christians regardless of their confessional affiliation. This year marks a sad date in the history of Europe - the 50th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. Half a century after that, bursts of air-bombs have again sown death and destruction in the land of a sovereign European state. The consequences of these disastrous actions committed by the North Atlantic bloc can become unpredictable not only for Europe, but also for the entire world today.

We regard the air-strikes on Yugoslavia as an extremely dangerous precedent threatening the very principles of interstate relations which have been established after World War II.

The air-raids of the NATO aircraft are fraught with shedding the innocent blood of civilians. No attempt to overcome an internal crisis in a particular country by armed pressure from outside can help resolve contradictions, but is fraught with further escalation of hatred. It is particularly lamentable for us as Christians that one of the targets for the bombers is old Kosovo, which is inhabited today by both Muslims and Christians, while historically it was the cradle of Christianity in the country.

"Let us then pursue what makes for peace" (Rom. 14:19), avoiding the temptation to solve complicated problems not by the power of spirit, faith and good, but by the unfaithful power of fire and sword. We call upon all the parties to the conflict to find strength and return to the negotiation table, which is never late, so that the existing problems may be settled by peaceful means on the basis of mutual respect for civil, national and religious rights and thus show their faithfulness to the commandment of the Most High to build peace.

Co-chairmen of the Christian Interconfessional Advisory Committee of the Russian Federation:

KIRILL, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, Chairman Department for External Church Relations, Moscow Patriarchate

TADEUSZ KONDRUCIEWICZ, Archbishop of Hippon-Zarita, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin rite Catholics, in the European Russia

REV.PETER KONOVALCHIK, Chairman Union of the Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists in the Russian Federation



March 25, 1999 - 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 we 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.



March 25, 1999

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