Pope appeals for dialogue and harmony in Ukraine

Published 03 March 2014
(AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Protesters ride atop of what appears to be a military truck, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, February 22, 2014.

Pope Francis has called upon Ukrainians to build the future of their country together as political instability continues.

The past week has seen Ukraine lurch from one crisis to another, with ousted President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and Russian troops taking control of Crimea.

Following the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis appealed for harmony and for prayers from the faithful.

"While I hope that all the parties within the country will make efforts to overcome misunderstandings and to build the future of the nation together, I also make a heartfelt appeal to the international community to support every initiative in support of dialogue and harmony," he said.

The Pope went on to say that "humanity needs justice, reconciliation, peace, and we can obtain these only by returning with all our hearts to God, their source".

"We are all in need of God's forgiveness. Let us enter Lent with a spirit of adoration for God and of fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, suffer as a result of poverty and violent conflicts," he said.

EU foreign ministers were meeting today for talks on the crisis. The Telegraph reports that a draft EU text has been drawn up, warning Russia that its military intervention in Crimea is in "clear breach" of the UN Charter the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, as well as "Russia's specific commitments to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 and the bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership of 1997".

"The EU calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing, in accordance with the Agreement on the Status and Conditions of the Black Sea Fleet stationing on the territory of Ukraine of 1997," the document continues.

Russia has defended its deployment of troops in the region as a necessary measure to protect human rights and minorities from "ultra-nationalist threats".

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