Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Met Saba (Esber)'s Speech at the Sochi Peace Conference

Arabic original here

The following text is the speech given on behalf of the delegation of Christian clergy by His Eminence Metropolitan Saba (Esber) at the Syrian National Dialogue conference held in Sochi on January 30, 2018

An Appeal and a Vision

In December 2011, we Syrian Christian clergy went to Geneva in response to an invitation from the World Council of Churches so that they could listen to us, because they wanted to know more precisely about what was happening in the country. When one of us said in his speech that the issue contains three aspects: internal, regional and global, he was met with a sharp rebuke from most of the non-Syrians in attendance, since at that time they only saw the internal aspect of what was happening in Syria and only through a narrow and limited lens. Three years later, letters of apology started to arrive from those who had refused to look comprehensively at what was happening. Today, after seven years of our people's indescribable suffering and massive destruction of the country's capabilities, we have come to dialogue at the welcome initiative of the Russian state and the good faith and hope of all those attending, as our people hope for good tidings of relief from this encounter.

Permit me to address you in the name of this long-suffering and authentic people, the Syrian people, who over the course of history have always constituted a cultural and religious mosaic, whose experience of peaceful coexistence the contemporary world needs.

Anyone who has studied history knows that the Levant has been a theater for the struggle of great powers since the 13th century before Christ, the beginning of recorded history. This global struggle has produced terrible suffering on our land, which our great people has transformed into a rich and profound cultural cross-fertilization, as proven by the fact that over the course of history, Syria has not witnessed a single civil war.

Despite the close proximity of different religious, sectarian, intellectual and political affiliations on its territory and interventions of those near and far, Syrians have lived together in good times and bad and have cooperated against hardship of life and the cruelty of history. If we were to recount the bright stories that have taken place here and there in the past seven years, we would need several volumes.

We hope that this meeting will be a foundational conference that will produce the general outline of the Syria of which we all dream and which all Syrians are expecting from us today, awaiting a sign that brings them renewed hope.

We have the right, as Syrians, to build our country with our own hands. Our hospitable people, who love peace and truth, have the right to live in peace and prosperity. If they are given peace, then they are capable of enriching the world with much of what it needs and lacks.

The time has come for our people to enjoy happiness and stability, for their torment to end, for their night to brighten, and for their suffering to stop.

Let us confirm to them that they are really the most important thing. Nothing is more important than the human person and the land of the nation. God's creature is the most precious thing in existence and he deserves to live in his homeland with honor, freedom, dignity and peace of mind. Let us remember that all regimes, about which people may differ, were established for the sake of man and not to sacrifice him for their own sake.

Let us be apostles of reconciliation, dialogue and construction. Let us start by casting off the garments in which we have been falsely dressed and working to reveal what we really are: a good people who love and are faithful to their homeland and human values.

We are a people that lives the dialogue of life... Let this meeting be the start of our rooting and embodying the essence of our lived heritage, as dictated by our patriotic, humanitarian and religious conscience. Let us be constructive in speaking the life-giving word to our people and our country. History will not forgive us if we are not of the stature our people expect of us.

We have had enough of killing and death. A people that have produced civilizations of life and resurrection, from Tammuz to Adonis to Christ, only deserve life, indeed, true life.

I leave you with the hope that we will start out from here declaring that the path of Golgotha is closed and the way of the resurrection has been opened.

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