The Middle East Council of Churches issued a statement in defence of the Christian population of Artsakh, who must be protected from possible abuse and reprisals, whilst ensuring their freedom of worship. The agreement reached does not guarantee a true and lasting peace. Churches call for a "new regional order" to meet everyone's aspirations.
Beirut (AsiaNews) –The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) issued a statement on Monday calling for the Nagorno-Karabakh region (Artsakh) to have the right to a lasting settlement and, ultimately, self-determination.
In the meantime, the Council demands that the population of this region be protected from abuses and reprisals, that their Christian heritage be protected, and that they enjoy freedom of belief and worship.
According to the statement, “six weeks of bloody armed conflict in Artsakh – the Armenian name for the Nagorno-Karabakh region – ended with a ceasefire, which took effect at midnight, on 9-10 November. In reality, this agreement leaves the region without a clear and lasting peace. The settlement remains fragile and allows at most the maintenance of a state of tense coexistence [. . .].
“As a religious and humanitarian organisation whose objectives are reconciliation and rapprochement between peoples and groups at war [. . .], the Middle East Council of Churches calls on the protagonists of the conflict and the international parties concerned to ensure the continuation of the cease-fire in Artsakh.
"This guarantee is likely to establish a state of calm at the regional level, which would benefit all parties to the conflict, and provide an opportunity to clarify Artsakh’s legal status whilst protecting the thousands of people who are still currently in danger.
“Armenian Churches were the cornerstone of the Middle East Council of Churches and are among its founding members. They are at the heart of Artsakh’s suffering and of the concern that its people feel for its fate.
“Therefore, the MECC feels deeply concerned about religious freedom and freedom of worship, as well as the plight of those who may be subject to various types of reprisals.
“We would also like to express our concern about the fate of the Christian heritage in this region, including churches, monasteries, monuments and museums, which are threatened with destruction or risk being wiped off the map altogether.
“We therefore call on all international organisations to participate in the protection of people and religious and heritage assets in Artsakh. Artsakh has the right to self-determination like any other nation or people in the world.
“We also stress the importance of establishing sincere dialogue between all parties concerned, out of compassion for the citizens of this region. This approach would pave the way for taking the necessary steps to establish a new regional order that meets the aspirations of all parties to the current conflict, with a view to achieving the desired peace.”