"A PATH TOWARDS THE RESILIENCE OF SYRIAN PEOPLE"

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On Wednesday, 3 April 2019, the Committee of Representatives of Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) in cooperation with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), along with the Working Group on Interreligious and Cultural Dialogue of the European People’s Party (EPP), held a first joint Conference in the European Parliament in Brussels. The topic of this Conference was The Next Day in Syria: A path towards the resilience of Syrian people”. The conference was attended by Members of the European Parliament and other officials, academics, diplomats and representatives of religious organizations in Brussels.

His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Achaia, on behalf of the three Christian organizations namely CROCEU, COMECE and CEC, made the following speech:

"Today’s first collaboration of the EPP Group with Christian Churches represented in Brussels offers us an opportunity to address the challenge our humanitarian feelings face in front of the deeply tormented people of Syria, people who were forced to leave their homeland due to conflict and war, religious discrimination and persecution as well as economic destitution. We are here to express our sincere concern in a spirit of solidarity in prayer, advocacy and practical support acknowledging our responsibility as Christians for our fellow human beings. This means that we, being an integral part of a global community, are prepared to do everything possible to promote values such as peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, equality before the law and justice for all, overcoming indifference, ignorance, fatalism, prejudice and fear.

Every day we go through published material about conflicting interests of big powers, proxy wars, and sanctions harming primarily the weakest members of the society, desecration or destruction of devotional places, geopolitical rearrangements and “real politic”. It is good to know the world we live in. It is not good or humane to try to build our own exclusive shelter and leave out those in need. No one can feel immune from trouble when suffering gets out of control. Our world does not profit from policies of protectionism and populism. It is in desperate need of active men and women with a vision, who honestly dedicate themselves to working for longstanding solutions in a comprehensive approach involving all stakeholders, regional and international.

I believe that our efforts need to be supported by an inspiring global educational activity involving both parents and the youth. The European Institutions should take the initiative to set an example for the education system as a whole. This initiative will not overshadow the principle of subsidiarity as long as it focuses on the fact that religious and cultural diversity enriches our humanity and helps us build a better world to the avail of all. I do hope that such an initiative will be undertaken by the European Institutions in the coming months and years not only in drafting papers, but finding and applying practical methods. Definitely, representatives of Churches (namely the committees CEC, COMECE and CROCEU I have the honor to represent today) wholeheartedly will be at the side of everyone who takes such an initiative.

I have a dream inspired by Saint Paul. That “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God” (2 Corinthians 6: 4-7)."

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