Sant'Egidio calls for negotiations to achieve peace in Ukraine
By Francesca Merlo
An urgent appeal launched on Friday by the Community of Sant'Egidio will be delivered to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky through their respective embassies.
Speaking on Italian television on Saturday morning, Andrea Riccardi, President of the Community of Sant'Egidio, who signed the drammatic appeal on Friday, insisted on the value of Kyiv for the whole world and for the need for an immediate ceasefire to protect its inhabitants, starting from the most fragile.
Sant'Egidio opened its appeal stressing that "Kyiv, a capital of three million inhabitants, in Europe, is today a battlefield".
It describes the terror that was lived on the first day of attacks, as "the defenceless civilian population" seeked refuge in underground shelters. "The weakest, from the elderly to children and the homeless, are even more exposed", wrote Andrea Riccardi.
The statement goes on to describe Kyiv as "a city with a great cultural heritage", warning that "one cannot think of European culture or the history of Europe, without Kyiv, just as one cannot think of Russian culture or the history of Russia, without Kyiv".
Kyiv, as well as being home to many world heritage sites, "is a sanctuary city for many Christians", continued Andrea Riccardi, adding "first and foremost for Orthodox Christians throughout the world".
"The history of the faith of the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian peoples began in Kyiv. Ukrainian and Russian monasticism was born in Kyiv. The great Monastery of the Cave Lavra on the hill above the great Dnieper River is a thousand-year-old holy place of pilgrimage and prayer. Kyiv is a precious city for the entire Christian world", he stressed.
Nobody is indifferent
Andrea Riccardi went on to note that "the fate of Kyiv does not leave indifferent those who, from East and West, look with passion and involvement at the city and its people", and for all the reasons listed above and more, he concluded:
"We implore those who may decide to refrain from the use of arms in Kyiv, to declare a ceasefire in the city, to proclaim Kyiv an "open city", not to strike its inhabitants with the violence of arms, not to violate a city to which the whole of humanity looks today. May this choice be accompanied by the resumption of negotiations to achieve peace in Ukraine".