EU must work with Greece to solve crisis - church leaders

Published 23 November 2012
AP
A protester waves a Greek flag during a union protest outside Parliament in Athens

The EU and Greece must take joint responsibility for solving the country's economic woes, church leaders have said.

In an open letter to the EU, leaders of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) appeal for a solution that gives "urgent and proper attention" to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Greece.

As the EU prepares to receive the Nobel Peace Prize next month for its role in rebuilding Europe after World War II, the WCC and CEC say that the economic and humanitarian situation in Greece "challenges the EU as a peacebuilder for the next generation".

"While the peace award says much about what Europe has become, the response toward Greece will say what Europe will be in the future," they say.

The letter is signed by WCC General Secretary Dr Olav Fykse Tveit and CEC General Secretary Dr Guy Liagre.

The two leaders have just returned from a visit to Greece where they met political and church leaders to discuss the crisis.

They went on to express concern over the spiralling youth unemployment and the damaging effect on social services.

Rather than blaming the people of Greece, the leaders say that the country "cannot be isolated" and that now is the time for "understanding" and "solidarity".

"This is an opportunity for the EU to remain true to its founding principles through acts of social and economic justice required for a sustainable peace, so important for Europe and the entire world," the letter reads.

"Throughout Europe the people of Greece are being blamed for this crisis. The responsibility for this situation rests with Greece and the EU and both the lenders and the borrowers.

"We appeal to the EU that it addresses this not just as a Greek crisis but as a European crisis. Each has responsibility for the role they have played and for the response they give."

The church leaders further warn that the humanitarian and social impact is likely to trigger a political crisis.

"Together with the Church of Greece we also take seriously the political and societal implications of growing racism and extremism in Greece," they say.

"These are storm clouds on the horizon that cannot be ignored or wished away.

"The WCC and CEC stand with the EU and the people of Greece so together they are able to address this crisis at all levels: financial, humanitarian, moral, political and spiritual."

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