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Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Having gathered in Lviv, Ukraine, from January 7 till 14, to discuss the relation between morality and politics from a Christian democratic perspective, the European Christian Political Youth Network (ECPYN) would like to reassert the importance of moral values in politics and the responsibility of political leaders to lead by example.
The winter school provided many insights in the current state of political and societal moral standards, both in Europe in general and specifically in Ukraine and other European countries. The lectures and discussions provided some profound understandings of the desired relation between morality and politics and how improvements in this respect could be achieved.
It can be concluded that the moral standards of politicians are a reflection of the moral standards of society. In order to improve the moral standards in politics, the moral standards in all of society should hence be improved. What is needed are political, societal, economic and religious leaders, who will lead by example and will work to spread respect for moral standards and thus create a general climate in which morality can thrive. In this cultural climate both the church and individual Christians and all other people of good will, have a responsibility to bear witness of their own moral standards in word and deed.
Those in political office have a special responsibility to conform their political activity and their political decisions to the moral standards to which society would adhere and thus establish a morally sound political and social order. It is merely the essence of a democratic system that the moral standards of the people should be made to bear on and be reflected in the policies of the government. In order for politicians to be able to credibly enact moral policies, they should themselves be persons of impeccable moral conduct and integrity, both in political as in societal and private life.
The winter school was addressed by such eminent speakers as Volodymyr Stretovych MP of the Christian Democratic Union of Ukraine, His Grace Venedict (Aleksiychuk), bishop of the Lviv Cheparchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Mykola Tomenko, vice speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, father Borys Gudziyak, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) of Lviv, Victor Zhukovsky, editor-in-chief of the magazine ‘Christian and the world’ and professor at the UCU, Catalin Avramescu, professor at the University of Bucharest and adviser to the Romanian president, Vitaliy Shabunin, chairman of the Foundation of Regional Organisation, and many others.
ECPYN will continue to promote the integration of moral values into politics from its Christian democratic perspective and is willing and ready to work with all who would like to strive towards the same goal, be it on the European or on the national or local level.
It is with grave concern, that ECPYN has taken notice of the violations of both political rights and basic human rights of its own citizens on the part of the Belarusian authorities. We call on the Belarusian authorities to set right its unjustified actions and to refrain from further violations. We call on the European Union and on all national governments to condemn the violations and to take appropriate actions to press the Belarusian authorities to make amends.
The violations of political and basic human rights of citizens on the part of the Belarusian authorities include:
- the use of excessive violence by the riot police against citizens who gathered peacefully in Independence Square in Minsk. Many people were beaten so severely, they were hospitalized, including even some minors and elderly.
- random arrest and detainment of peaceful protesters.
- intimidation of presidential candidates and other leaders of opposition parties and youth organisations on the part of the police and the secret service.
- undue expelling of students involved with political parties and youth organisations from their universities.
- unwarranted breaking and entering of the homes and offices of opposition leaders and activists.
- unwarranted confiscation of properties belonging to political parties and youth organisations.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to release all political prisoners and detainees and to lift any other sanctions against opposition leaders and activists. We would like to mention specifically the detainment of Pavel Seviarynets and the house arrest of Vital Rimashevsky.
In light of the fact that the OSCE election observer mission deemed the elections to be short of accepted democratic standards and the elections can hence not be seen as free and fair, it can hardly be surprising that many citizens expressed their discontent by taking to the street. The excessive response to these protests by the authorities is unacceptable by any standard and certainly does not befit any government that would like to continue to cooperate with the European Union in the Eastern Partnership.
We therefore call on the European Union to suspend the participation of Belarus in its Eastern Partnership Programme indefinitely until the Belarusian authorities significantly improve the human and civil rights conditions, release the political prisoners and detainees and lift the sanctions against them. We also call on the European Union and national governments to enter into permanent dialogue with Belarusian opposition forces, youth organisations and NGO’s and to continuously monitor the political situation in Belarus, in order to be able to respond quickly to new violations.