🇺🇦🇷🇺Ukraine Orthodox Christians mark independence from Russian branch | Al Jazeera English
Secretary of State Pompeo: Ukraine’s independent church is open to all believers
Mike Pompeo congratulated Ukrainians on the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as an autocephalous church by two local churches – Greek and Alexandria
KIEV – The United States will always defend the right of all people to freedom of religion. This was discussed in Kiev on January 31 during a meeting between the Secretary of State of the United States and the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Epiphany.
As noted on the Facebook page of the US Department of State, Mike Pompeo noted the efforts of Metropolitan Epiphanius “to ensure an independent Orthodox Church in Ukraine, open to all believers.”.
In turn, the Primate of the OCU, Metropolitan Epiphanius, called a pleasant meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “already in Ukraine”, in the heart of the capital and the administrative center of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine – St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery.
“In our communication with the Secretary of State, I focused on the formation and development of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, interaction with society, the state and the expansion of our international relations, and also highlighted the issue of persecution and systematic restriction of the rights of the clergy and communities of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine in the territories of the temporarily occupied Crimea and Donbass. “, – emphasized Metropolitan Epiphanius.
He expressed gratitude to the American side for the firm and reliable support of Ukraine in countering external challenges that the country continues to face on the path of democratic reforms..
During a press conference with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congratulated the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as an autocephalous church by the Churches of Greece and Alexandria and later expressed support for the OCU and freedom of religion in Ukraine on Twitter, talking about a meeting with Metropolitan Epiphanius.
On the religious situation in Crimea
According to Krym.Realii – a project of the Ukrainian service “Radio Liberty”, the Secretary of State keeps the problem of the existence of the OCU in Crimea under his personal control.
Crimea. Archbishop of the Crimean Diocese of the OCU Kliment told about this after a meeting with the head of the US foreign policy mission..
“I had the opportunity to talk with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This is the second meeting. The first took place last summer in Washington, during an international conference on the rights of religious freedom, when the secretary of state allotted fifteen minutes for me to report on the situation in Crimea. And now, during a short meeting, I thanked the Secretary of State for the great help that the United States is providing to the Ukrainians of Crimea. The help lies in the fact that the US government supports us at all events that take place in the world, the problem of the existence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (OCU) in Crimea is always voiced. The secretary of state keeps this problem under his personal control, ”said the clergyman. Archbishop Clement told the US Secretary of State that religious freedom and the right to worship are being violated in Crimea, Crimea reports..
Support to end Russian aggression
During a visit to Kiev, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured that Washington supports Ukraine, while the two countries seek to smooth relations amid impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump.
“Pompeo assured Ukraine that the United States fully supports it in terms of ending Russian aggression and restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in full,” the Ukrainian side said after Pompeo’s meeting with Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko.
Recall that US Secretary of State Pompeo is visiting the UK, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from January 29 to February 4, 2020. “In Minsk, February 1, the Secretary of State will meet with President Lukashenko and Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei to underline the US commitment to a sovereign, independent, stable and prosperous Belarus and reaffirm our desire to normalize our bilateral relations,” the statement on the State Department’s website says. USA.
Three centers of legitimacy – church, army, volunteers
Political scientist Oleksandr Paliy notes that the creation of the Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine led to the creation of the largest center of legitimacy in the country..
“The OCU today represents the majority of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and the United States, supporting the OCU, emphasize that they are on the side of the majority of Ukrainians,” says Alexander Paliy to the correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America”.
He believes that the history of the creation of the Local Church of Ukraine demonstrates the development of a trend that is not typical for Western society, where confessional development is in a state of stagnation..
“Today in Ukraine it is very pretentious and with potential a center is being created that will influence the increase of the moral qualification in society. This story is interesting because in one of the main countries for the Christian world – Ukraine, at a time when there is a tendency towards a decrease in the influence of religion, including in the Islamic world, we are developing a structure that has support in society ”, – emphasizes Alexander Paliy.
The political scientist notes the understanding in the United States of unequal opportunities for free religion in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea.
“Ideologically, the UOC could not tell Putin, did not make any calls for him to end the war. This was not voiced on their part. As a result, many people moved to the Local Church of Ukraine, ”says Oleksandr Paliy.
An eventful visit from Pompeo
According to Oleg Sahakyan, an expert at the Center for Political Science, he calls the visit of the American Secretary of State to Ukraine “rich” and believes that the Donald Trump administration is showing loyalty to Ukraine, amid criticism from political opponents.
“On the other hand, against the background of the disappearance of the track“ Volker – Surkov ”, without replacing this format with another format, there is a certain vacuum and it needs to be filled. Of course, this visit is intended to show that, regardless of the internal political turbulence of America, the geopolitical American position remains unshakable. And this is a message for American allies in other regions, including Moscow, ”says Oleg Sahakyan to the correspondent of the Russian service “Voice of America”.
Oleg Sahakyan emphasizes that the demonstration of White House support for the Ukrainian elite has an impact on the stable development of the foreign policy choice of the official Kiev..
“If this demonstration does not take place, then Ukraine will free its hands for more active external political actions, the current political leadership may begin to seek support in other geopolitical centers,” Oleg Sahakyan emphasizes..
When asked whether “the rich agenda of Pompeo’s visit to Kiev is not a signal for Minsk in the context of the visit of the US Secretary of State to Belarus?” The expert does not rule out this.
“I would not say that this is a direct message from Belarus, not unconditional … Minsk is in the epicenter of active events and excessive activity of Russia in the integration process, such a message cannot be discarded,” notes Oleg Sahakyan.
He suggests that there are still reputational risks for the United States from contacts with Belarus, and therefore “Vladimir Zelensky can become a link between President Lukashenko and the American leadership.”.