“Do not give up on ukraine!”

Ukraine: Uncertain future © dpa

On Thursday he was still with the Pope, now he appeals to the European Union in the same matter: The Kiev Grand Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk appeals for support for Ukraine.

Kyiv's Grand Archbishop Svyatoslav Shevchuk has appealed to the EU not to abandon Ukraine. The Ukrainian people are "united in striving to return to the European family, where they belong," he told the Vienna-based press agency Kathpress in an interview Saturday. The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) is in Austria until Sunday.

"Everyone wants to see Ukraine as a free European country," Shevchuk said. The principles of freedom, democracy and human rights are undisputed. Admittedly, this does not have to mean very rapid membership in the European Union at the same time.

Free Ukraine?

According to Shevchuk, the orientation toward the West also applies to the population in the contested areas of eastern Ukraine. He spoke of "imprisoned" people in the Donetsk and Lugansk region who were waiting for their "liberation". Shevchuk: "The people there are increasingly realizing that Russia does not need them and does not want them."

Their future also lies in a free and independent Ukraine".

The Grand Archbishop visiting eastern Ukraine

Last week, Shevchuk had visited eastern Ukraine. His impression: a solution to the conflict could not come from outside, but could only begin within Ukraine. The people are "tired of war" and realize that no one from the outside will help them.

Ukraine must help itself first and foremost, he said. According to the Grand Archbishop, he fully relies on civil society. "Politicians come and go, but the people remain."

Shevchuk with the Pope

On Thursday, the pope received Shevchuk for a private audience. Francis is very close to the suffering people in Ukraine, said the clergyman from Kiev. He acknowledged, however, that there had been "incomprehension" following the Pope's meeting with Moscow Patriarch Cyril in Cuba in February.

Some points of the joint statement of Pope and Patriarch would not have reflected the real political and ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine, according to Ukrainians. "It was therefore our duty to enlighten the pope," Shevchuk said verbatim.

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