Representatives of Ukrainian Orthodox Church meet with Human Rights Ambassador from Kingdom of the Netherlands

February 19, 2016, in the Ecclesiastical archaeological office of the Kyiv Theological Academy representatives of the Synodal Departments of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met with the Human Rights Ambassador from the Kingdom of the Netherlands Mr. Kees van Baar.

As the official website of the Department of External Church Relations reports, the highly esteemed guest was accompanied by Ms. Minke van der Sar, Policy Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Department (The Hague), and Ms. Kateryna Ostashkova, Senior Policy Officer at the Governance and Human Rights Department, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kyiv. With the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufriy of Kyiv and all Ukraine, the Head of the Department for information and education of the UOC His Grace Bishop Klyment of Irpin, the Deputy Chairman of the Department for external Church relations (DECR UOC) archpriest Mykolay Danylevych, DECR UOC staff-member Mr. D. P. Lozinskyi, and Head of the Legal Department of the UOC Archpriest Oleksandr Bakhov took part in the meeting.

The main theme of the meeting was the state of compliance of believers’ rights in Ukraine. During the discussion Mr Ambassador was told about specific cases of the violation of UOC believers’ rights in certain Western regions of the country. In particular, among other cases mentioned, the current situation connected with the church in the village of Ptycha was described at length. The church is located in oblast’ of Rivne where the local UOC religious community has won two court rulings regarding the question of legal ownership of the church, but the decisions of these courts are being ignored by local authorities as well as by the “UOC KP” representatives who continue to attempt to violently seize the church. Thus, the UOC parishioners are illegally denied use of their own church. His Grace Bishop Klyment of Irpin also emphasized that the only desire of the UOC was the implementation of the constitutional rights of its believers. “Our Church treats with respect the ownership of property belonging to other faiths and religious organizations and would very much appreciate that this respect was reciprocated”, said His Grace.

The diplomat from the Netherlands was provided with printed and video evidences where the above-mentioned violations were recorded.

After being acquainted with the situation, Mr. Kees van Baar noted that he knows about the ineffectiveness of the governmental authorities in Ukraine from his own personal experience: “Both your experience and my experience have been showing us that the rule of the law is not being complied with in your country”, and he added: “personally, I fail to comprehend how rulings made by the courts are not executed”. The Ambassador made assurances that he will make every effort to correct this situation at the international level.

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