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World Ecumenical Organizations Condemn Attack on Artsakh

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, has been working with the world’s major inter-church groups to gain support for Armenia and Artsakh in the wake of the attacks this week.

As a result, both the National Council of Church in the U.S.A. (NCC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) issued statements condemning the escalation of violence and calling for the international community to take diplomatic action.

The strongly-worded NCC statement was explicit in its condemnation of Azerbaijan as the aggressor, stating that “NCC opposes this unprovoked surprise attack by Azerbaijan that has brought Armenia into a state of war.” It stated further that “The NCC stands in solidarity with the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the World Council of Churches, and people of goodwill everywhere in expressing our outrage and deep sadness at this conflict.”

“This is an extremely important statement issued by America’s largest, most influential ecumenical body,” said Archbishop Aykazian, who is a former NCC President and present board member, a board member of the WCC, and a senior leader on the worldwide ecumenical stage.

The statement from WCC interim Secretary General the Rev. Dr. Ioan Sauca lamented the attack “which has already resulted in dozens of casualties including civilians, and which risks provoking a wider armed conflict in the region,” and drew attention to “the aggressively partisan stance taken by the government of Turkey, which as a member of the Minsk Group should maintain a neutral role, rather than that of an antagonist.”

Read both statements, each in its entirety, below.

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NCC Calls for an Immediate End to the Armenia/Azerbaijan Conflict

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) laments the increased hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the loss of life in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. As the fighting escalates, NCC opposes this unprovoked surprise attack by Azerbaijan that has brought Armenia into a state of war.

The NCC stands in solidarity with the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the World Council of Churches, and people of goodwill everywhere in expressing our outrage and deep sadness at this conflict.

We deplore the use of military force by Azerbaijan and the Syrian rebel fighters that are funded and sent by Turkey to assist their assault on the Armenian community. The use of armor, aviation, heavy artillery, and drones suggests a planned operation. It is time that Turkey ends their involvement in the region by stopping their participation in the fight and their encouragement of the war.

We recognize that the fighters from Syria have been displaced from their homes and are desperate to feed their families which may have caused them to be recruited into this destructive conflict.

NCC calls on the United States to undertake diplomatic measures to halt the fighting. We hope and pray that the U.S. Department of State will not be indifferent to this situation. We ask our member churches to immediately convey this message to their elected officials.

We pray according to the Armenian tradition: “Listen to the cry that rises from every corner of this fragile earth, from our human family torn by violent conflict. It is to You we pray, O loving Lord —today, in the days to come, and always—for the repose of the departed, for the healing of the spiritual and moral afflictions tormenting [us], and for an end to the violence that can only lead to ruin and destruction. [Amen.]” (Armenian Church of America).

September 30, 2020

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Statement from WCC Interim Secretary General Dr. Ioan Sauca

The World Council of Churches is gravely concerned by the renewed and very serious escalation of conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region since Sunday 27 September – reportedly following an attack by Azerbaijan’s military forces – which has already resulted in dozens of casualties including civilians, and which risks provoking a wider armed conflict in the region.

I lament the tragic loss of lives, express my sincere condolences to the grieving families, and pray for the recovery of the injured.

To stop this bloodshed, the WCC calls on all combatants to desist immediately from further military action and to return to the table of dialogue and negotiation. On its behalf I appeal for urgent initiatives by the Minsk Group, under the auspices of the OSCE, for progress towards a peaceful solution to this longstanding unresolved conflict.

I am dismayed by the aggressively partisan stance taken by the government of Turkey, which as a member of the Minsk Group should maintain a neutral role, rather than that of an antagonist.

I appeal therefore to our WCC member churches from the countries in the Minsk Group to engage with their governments to convey this message and to encourage urgent and sustained diplomatic efforts for peace in the region.

September 28, 2020

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