Consultation on the churches and the crisis in the Balkans

 — May 27, 199927 mai 1999

World Council of Churches
Press Update
27 May 1999

Consultation on the Churches and the Crisis in the Balkans
(Budapest, Hungary, 26-27 May 1999)

c.f. WCC press release of 21 May 1999

Over 40 church leaders and representatives from Eastern and Western Europe as well as from North America met in Budapest, Hungary, from 26 to 27 May to discuss the churches’ response to the crisis in the Balkans region. Representatives of the churches in the Federal Republic Yugoslavia (Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed and Serbian Orthodox churches) participated in the meeting.

The consultation was jointly organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) in cooperation with the Lutheran World Federation
(LWF) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), and was hosted by the ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary. The consultation benefitted from the presence of a
representative of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE). The international ecumenical organizations have taken several initiatives in response to the crisis, including the sending of delegations to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to Albania and to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The main purposes of the consultation were:

The consultation shared in the widespread international concern about the escalation of the conflict and the reports of massive human rights violations in Kosovo, the devastating impact of the NATO airstrikes and the tragic effects on the civilian population, and the plight of almost a million refugees from Kosovo.

The consultion recognized the complex historical roots of the crisis, and the different perceptions of the nature of the conflict and of the immediate causes of the massive exodus of Kosovar Albanians.

In a context of renewed division and hostilities in Europe, the church representatives expressed their commitment to staying together in prayer and in solidarity. In this situation the churches should seek common Christian witness and action by affirming the following principles:

The consultation recognized the need for further dialogue and discussion of the following issues:

Follow-up and possible future actions:

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of 336 churches, 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.

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