The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece protests against the arrestation of Archbishop Ioannis of Ochrid

Athens, 30 August 2006

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, having learned that His Eminence, Archbishop Ioannis of Ochrid and Metropolitan of FYROM, has once again been arrested and imprisoned, appeals to every competent diplomatic, ecclesiastical or other authority, in order to strongly protest against this new decision of the Government of FYROM by which not only are the inalienable human rights of every free person violated, but also the unimpeded functioning of democracy in our neighbouring country called into question, as well as the credibility of the use of the word "Republic" (implying Democracy) in its official name.

The unending prosecutions of the canonical Archbishop Ioannis, against whom charges completely devoid of logic and objectivity have been brought, and of which he has repeatedly been found to be innocent, as well as the deprivation of his personal freedom, are a clear violation of human rights and an inadmissible deprivation of freedom to exercise one's duties as a religious functionary: a fact that hinders, rather than facilitates FYROM from conforming to the dictates of its orientation towards the European Union. Moreover, it shakes the citizen's trust--the vast majority of whom are members of the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church in that country--in the unimpeded and safe functioning of the country's institutions, a very important prerequisite for the maintenance of the cohesion of society, and the prosperity and progress of the country, thereby seriously hindering its attempts to enforce law and order and to defend the human rights and freedom of its citizens, as required by International Law and Treaties, which constitute the quintessence of European vested rights.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece prays for, and requests the immediate release of the Archbishop and hopes that the new Government, to which it wishes all success in the execution of its difficult and important governmental work, will look into this matter with the greatest attention, because of its extreme importance and its international ramifications, and will restore legality and Ecclesiastical and Canonical order.

From the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece