GOARCH - May 4, 1999

Archbishop Spyridon Welcomes
Release of Captive Servicemen and Appeals to President Clinton
for a Return to a Negotiated Peace Process

New York, NY - His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, has written President Clinton expressing the joy of the Greek Orthodox People of the United States over the release of the three American Servicemen. The Archbishop had sent the Ecumenical Officer of the Archdiocese, His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthou, with the ecumenical delegation headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. Joan Brown Campbell of NCCCUSA that returned yesterday from Belgrade.

In hailing the event of the release of the captured Servicemen, the Archbishop wrote to the President the following:

"Mr. President, this moment must be seized as an opportunity to renew a negotiated peace in the region. The release of our Servicemen opens a door that has been hitherto closed. Only if we boldly pass through that door, will we find our way back to peace and security for all parties. Certainly it is clear that the bombardment of Yugoslavia is not benefiting the refugees. Nor has the resolve of the Serbian people been diminished; in fact, they are more united than ever. What is to be gained by the further deconstruction of Yugoslavia's infrastructure and the continuing loss of innocent civilian lives?

"Mr. President, we must look to the future and the re-construction of life and liberty in the Balkans. Only a return to the negotiating table and a resumption of a diplomatic/political process will alleviate the enormous human suffering that now afflicts the region and restore peace and security."

As part of the ecumenical delegation, Bishop Dimitrios had delivered a check for $50,000 to His Beatitude Patriarch Pavle for humanitarian relief efforts from the special collections that were made during Holy Week. Archbishop Spyridon had issued an appeal for the communities of the Archdiocese to make these collections for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Kosovo Relief Fund established at Atlantic Bank in New York. The faithful of the Archdiocese have responded with great generosity and this $50,000 is the first disbursement from the Relief Fund. In addition, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) continues to work on refugee relief.

Archbishop Spyridon has stressed from the beginning of the crisis that relief efforts must be made on behalf of all those who are suffering. In writing to the President today, the Archbishop is continuing to intercede on behalf of a peaceful settlement in the region, one which is based in diplomatic efforts.

   May 4, 1999 ]