This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. A terrible war, which is on the scale of the world war, devastated the country and caused millions of casualties. The war has forced Korean Peninsula to spend decades in confrontation and tension up until now. In the peninsula, which is divided in two, young people are still holding guns and aiming at each other. Moreover, as the recent war in Ukraine has had a big impact on the daily lives of the Republic of Korea, which is on the other side of the globe, people are once again feeling the need for peace.
Analysis of past Israeli-Palestinian and northeastern African conflicts mentions in many cases that knowing the cause of the conflict is a very important factor, and that the approach of ethnic-religious elements is inevitable for conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Also, the need for a peaceful process has been further raised as Russia's recent blockade of grain exports has been criticized as a criminal act that incites food shortages in countries such as Africa and the Middle East.
In a statement by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, "I call on political, religious and community leaders to reject violence and speak up against those who try to inflame the situation. We must all work toward restoring hope and the prospect of a political resolution to this conflict." As mentioned, the voices of leaders play an important role in achieving peace. As can be seen in the Eritrean-Ethiopian case, international organizations such as the African Union provide a better opportunity to mediate the peace process in conflict zone, and the leader's decision could lead to the end of the war.
In this reality, there is an international peace organization in Korea that leads the change so that the global village may be imbued with a culture of peace, named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, and Restoration of Light (HWPL). As a veteran, HWPL Chairman Man Hee Lee witnessed the horrors of the Korean War and presented answers for peace and life in the world of conflict and death. Urging everyone in the world to become one in peace, he always shouts 'We Are One!'. The representative achievement of the peace steps he and HWPL have made is the fruit of contributing to peace in Mindanao, the Philippines, ending its 50-year history of conflict.
Mindanao was a region of the largest armed conflict in Southeast Asia. The Mindanao conflict clearly shows the crisis, faced by the global community, of rampant conflicts based on ethnic, religious identity that emerged in the 21st century. Mindanao's peace was a matter of direct connection to global security issues beyond the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Efforts were made to resolve the dispute after it caused massive casualties. It’s the Mindanao peace agreement. International private organizations, along with the governments of Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Kingdom, supported the peace agreement, including Malaysia, the mediator of the official peace agreement between the government and the MILF. In addition to the official process, international organizations such as the European Union, Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and various private organizations have begun to establish peace by supporting it and providing humanitarian aid. Nonetheless, the signing of a peace treaty never ended the conflict. Mindanao's peace demonstrated the need for a fundamental and long-term approach across politics, economy, society, and culture to prevent a recurrence of war. Hence, HWPL, based in South Korea, began a journey of peace to Mindanao which is directly linked to world peace. The civic peace agreement mediated by the HWPL was Mindanao's declaration of permanent peace. Since then, HWPL and all involved, including local politics, religion, and civil society, have been cooperating for peace.
Regarding the achievements made in Mindanao since 2013, when the civil-level peace agreement was signed, Man Hee Lee, Chairman of HWPL, consistently says, "It’s what God did" and "God accompanied us," not personal achievements. With mysterious and miraculous powers leading to the cooperation of the global community, he always emphasizes, "Let all the global community become advocates of peace and leave peace as a legacy of future generations." The possibility of peace emphasized by the HWPL will come as a reality when people of the world decide to join and become one in peace. Global family members of peace wish this process will pave a way for the world to become a global village filled with news of peace rather than war, as “We are One” resonates around the world.
Press-release of the HWPL
The House of Europe programme has mobilised €1.5 million for a dedicated war response package aimed at artists, cultural managers, doctors, educators, entrepreneurs, journalists, and leaders of youth organisations who face Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Since 24 February 2022, the programme has redirected its funding to seven areas of emergency support, focusing on creating new support schemes to address wartime challenges.
In addition, the House of Europe has collected and informed about hundreds of opportunities for both displaced people and Ukrainians left behind: scholarships and residencies for cultural workers, scholarships for academics and scholarships for students, emergency support for NGOs, media workers and entrepreneurs, among others.
The House of Europe has supported the preservation of cultural heritage in Ukraine, provided individual support for Ukrainian professionals and allowed current grantees to repurpose their funding instantly.
The war response package includes:
– 28 museums from Lviv, Odesa, and Kyiv, as well as Donetsk, Luhansk, Sumy, and Mykolaiv regions received €146,359 to protect their collections.
– 10 civil society initiatives receive funding for documenting war crimes, re-equipping teachers from Mariupol, holding a children’s film festival, instructing pregnant women how to give birth in shelters, etc. 13 cultural organisations that have transformed into shelter places for the displaced have been funded.
– 150 members of House of Europe’s Alumni community received stipends of €1,000 each for renewing their professional activities, but foremost for essentials like accommodation, food, medication, and fuel.
– Civil society representatives and House of Europe partners involved in evacuations of citizens, safeguarding of cultural heritage, volunteering, and other life-saving operations across Ukraine received 75 sets of protective and medical kits.
– Professionals and organisations that won House of Europe grants and have not carried out their projects yet in full were offered to spend the money on emergency needs and withstanding the Russian aggression. This includes 36 selected recipients of Individual Project Grants, who were unable to proceed with their projects; those received alternative funding – a lump-sum fixed contribution, which may be spent for emergency purposes.
At the beginning of June 2022, the House of Europe will offer infrastructure grants of up to €15,000 each to Ukrainian organisations in an open competition to restore equipment and facilities and resume activities.
In July 2022, the House of Europe will also hold the third edition of Hatathon, an online hackathon bringing together cultural and IT professionals in search of start-up solutions in the cultural, creative industries and beyond.
House of Europe is an EU-funded programme fostering professional and creative exchange between Ukrainians and their colleagues in EU countries and the United Kingdom. The programme focuses on different professional fields: culture and creative industries, education, health, social entrepreneurship, media, and youth.
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Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. For more than two months since then, every single day has begun with the latest news on Ukraine. Along with sad news, people tune in, hoping to catch some better news, or drawing home and inspiration from stories of heroism and solidarity. Indeed, from the very first day, thousands of Georgians have united in support of Ukraine, and ordinary civilians, volunteers and organisations engage in humanitarian activities every day.
On 18 February, five Ukrainian friends had arrived in Georgia for a short stay. On 24 February, they found themselves trapped in Gudauri, unable to go home. Left in a foreign country, they were scrambling for resources to keep going, while desperately worried about their family and friends in Ukraine and the fate of their country.
Some of the friends eventually went to the Ukrainian border in Poland, but Yuliana and Katerina stayed in Georgia.
That was when they met Rusudan Tskhomelidze, who published a post on social media, offering shelter to Ukrainian citizens for free. The search for lodging marked the beginning of a friendship between the young Ukrainians and Rusudan’s family.
“We feel enormous support from the Georgian people” – Yuliana
A sociologist by profession, Yuliana was born and raised in Kyiv. She has a cat who is with her father in Kyiv, and her mother lives near Irpin. Yuliana is in a state of constant worry, but at least she is happy she can regularly communicate with her family.
“As soon as the war started, I created a family chat and I check it once every few hours, to know what is happening,” says Yuliana.
“The American press constantly writes that the Russian aggressors will run out of strength, equipment, also their morale is weak, and all this gives me hope that everything will end soon. It is hard to be certain about anything, no one knows what Russia will do. I hope that the political and economic pressure will have an effect and yield the desired results.”
The relationship with Rusudan’s family and the support of the Georgian people have been an enormous help to Yuliana in these difficult times.
“The relationship with Rusudan’s family eases our sorrow, they try to support us as much as they can. In addition to us not having to think about financial issues, they support us mentally as well. We’ve become friends with Rusudan’s family and this helps us. Generally, we feel great support from the Georgian people.
“Good news from Ukraine help me to deal with these days, there are bad news in between too, but I try to feel a little relief from the good news. I have video calls with my friends and family, I see my cats, I check social media and see that life goes on in Ukraine, they have switched to a new routine – all this reduces the worry in a way,” says Yulyana.
“There should be no war in any country” – Katerina
Before the war, Katerina had helped refugees from Belarus, Russia and Uzbekistan – she provided legal assistance, and facilitated their access to social services in Ukraine. Now she has ended up as a refugee herself.
“We did not leave because of war, but we became refugees because we cannot go back to Ukraine. I helped refugees before the war, I was a volunteer and tried to change people’s lives for the better. Now that Ukrainians are leaving the country and Europe has given them the same opportunity, that makes me happy,” says Katerina.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell today proposed a 5th package of sanctions against Russia for the approval of the European Council.
These sanctions aim to further cripple Putin’s war machinery, following the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation in Ukraine.
- An import ban on coal from Russia, worth €4 billion per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia.
- A full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These four banks, now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector. This will further weaken Russia’s financial system.
- A ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy. Additionally, the Commission will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods.
- Further targeted export bans, worth €10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, the EU will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.
- Specific new import bans, worth € 5.5 billion, to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor. In doing this, the EU also closes loopholes between Russia and Belarus.
- A number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.
The European Commission also proposed further listings of individuals, adding, according to Borrell, “dozens of people from politics, the business sector and engaged in propaganda activities”.
According to Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission is also working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and reflecting on some of the ideas presented by Member States, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account.
In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU4Youth programme has announced that it has decided to terminate its call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship”, which was published on 26 January 2022 and extended on 3 March.
“Following the military aggression initiated by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, the war in the country and the flood of refugees have comprehensively changed the demographic situation, social environment and labour market in Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries,” the programme said, adding that the need to address the immediate war-related needs and to build capacities for crisis response, including re-qualification, integration to labour markets, and development of entrepreneurship skills, had significantly impacted the context of EU4Youth Phase III.
In order to address these challenges, the priorities of the grant, and the requirements for applicants and procedures will be revised accordingly.
Depending on the situation, further information about the status of the call for proposals “EU4Youth phase III Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Youth Employment and Societal Change through Social Entrepreneurship” is planned to be announced until the end of April.
All those interested in the programme and potential grant applicants should subscribe to the EU4Youth newsletter for updates.
The Group of Friends of Georgia to OSCE has released a joint statement on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Russia-Georgia WarFriday, 11 September 2020 15:10
David Zalkaliani, President of the Committee of Ministers and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, made the following statement to mark 75 years since the end of the Second World War:
“Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe - the most devastating war in history, which claimed millions of lives and brought immense suffering.
“This day of commemoration and remembrance offers an opportunity for us to express our profound respect and admiration to all who gave their lives for humanity.
“We have to make sure that such atrocities do not take place again. The best way to achieve this is to adhere to international law and recommit ourselves to the universal principles we all embraced in the aftermath of the war.
“By commemorating this important anniversary, it is of utmost importance to reaffirm our commitment to a peaceful, secure and stable Europe, as it still faces conflicts and other serious challenges that require immediate cooperation and joint efforts.”
Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the 11th Anniversary of August 2008 Russia-Georgia WarThursday, 08 August 2019 11:18
7 August 2019 marks 11 years since the large-scale military invasionof the Russian Federation in Georgia and the illegal occupation of Georgia’s indivisible regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The military aggression, committed 11 years ago in a blatant violation of the fundamental norms of international law, was an attempt to change the borders of the sovereign state forcibly that has constituted a serious threat to the region and European security system as whole.
The Russian Federation has still not implemented the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and further violates the international obligations, despite the continuous calls of the international community. While showing the total disregard of the commitments undertaken by the Ceasefire Agreement on withdrawal of its troops from Georgia’s territory, Moscow is further enhancing its military presence on the ground and impedes creation of international security mechanisms in the occupied regions.
Moreover, Russia is undertaking steps towards de-facto annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions along with the attempts to isolate the residents of the occupied territories from the rest of Georgia. With this aim, the Russian Federation continues installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers, closure of so-called crossing points, restriction of freedom of movement and the practice of kidnapping and illegal detention of the local population, which constitute gross violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, and further aggravate already unbearable humanitarian and social-economic conditions of the conflict-affected people.
It is concerning that Georgians remained in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions are targets of oppression and discrimination on the ground of ethnicity, inter alia the prohibition of education in native Georgian language and insulting the dignity through enforcement to change their ethnic identity.
The cases of ethnically motivated torture and murder are further more alarming, which is vividly demonstrated by the facts of deprivation of life of Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria and Archil Tatunashvili. The sense of impunity that surrounds these cases allowed for the death of Irakli Kvaratskhelia in illegal detention at the Russian military base deployed in occupied Abkhazia region.
It is particularly deplorable that hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees, expelled from Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions as a result of multiple waves of ethnic cleansing, are still deprived of the possibility to return to their homes in safety and dignity.
Against this background, it is all the more evident that it is of utmost necessity that the EUMM enters the the occupied regions in full compliance with its mandate, and that the international human rights mechanisms are granted the unristricted access to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions.
In response to these challenges, Georgia is unwaveringly pursuing the policy of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict through negotiations and de-escalation efforts. Georgia has fully implemented the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and has on many occasions unilaterally reaffirmed its commitment of observing the non-use of force pledge, still awaiting the reciprocity from the Russian side. While the Russian Federation is deliberately trying to undermine the peace negotiations formats, Georgia continues its constructive engagement in the Geneva International Discussions and spares no effort to address the security and humanitarian problems of people affected by Russia’s illegal occupation. At the same times, the Government of Georgia is undertaking steps to ensure the reconciliation and confidence building between the communities torn away by war and the occupation line, which has been clearly demonstrated by the peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future”.
Within the de-escalation efforts since 2012, specific steps have been undertaken to restore trade, economic and humanitarian relations with Russia, Georgia has made number of constructive decisions that however must be followed by relevant steps of Russia towards the conflict resolution.
The Georgian side highly values the international community’s firm support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity and contribution to the process of peaceful resolution of the Russia-Georgia conflict. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia appeals to the international community to consolidate efforts in order to ensure the de-occupation of Georgia’s territories by Russia and the safe and dignified return of IDPs and refugees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls upon the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations undertaken by the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders, reverse its illegal decision on recognition of the so-called independence of the occupied territories and undertake the relevant steps to settle the relations between Georgia and Russia with the aim to ensure the conflict resolution through dialogue, and peace in the region.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to use this opportunity and extend its deepest condolences to the families and relatives of the civilians and the soldiers who died heroically during the 2008 war.
7 August 2018 marks the 10th year since Russia’s large-scale military invasion in Georgia and the following illegal occupation of Georgia’s indivisible regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
Through its military aggression against the sovereign state and further illegal steps, Russia blatantly violated the fundamental norms and principles of international law and created a dangerous precedence of attacking the rules-based international order. Russia’s actions in 2008 served the ambition to redraw the borders in Europe by force and undermine the entire European security architecture.
A decade later Russia still continues the aggression against Georgia. The 1-15 August large-scale military drills in the occupied territories with involvement of thousands of Russian troops and hundreds of military equipment, represent an unprecedented attempt by Russia to demonstrate its military power, that at the same time qualifies as a use of force and threat by use of force against Georgia.
10 years since the Russia-Georgia war the Russian Federation has not implemented the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and continues violating its international obligations, despite constant calls from the international community. In full disregard for the Ceasefire Agreement that obliged Russia to withdraw its forces from the territory of Georgia, Moscow has further reinforced its illegal military presence on the ground and continues to hinder the establishment of international security arrangements in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia expresses its great concern that the security and human rights situation in the occupied territories has been further deteriorated. Continuous fortification of the occupation line through installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers as well as constant kidnappings and illegal detentions by Russian FSB personnel further destabilize the security environment on the ground. As a result of this illegal process many families were left divided, many lost access to their agricultural lands, religious site and cemeteries. The grave human rights infringements in both in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions include but are not limited to gross violations of rights to freedom of movement, residence and property, as well as prohibition of education in native Georgian language, that have made lives of the local population unbearable.
While hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees, expelled from their homes as a result of several waves of ethnic cleansing, are still deprived of right to the safe and dignified return, those Georgians who remained in the occupied territories continue to be a subject of intensified ethnic discrimination. The recent cases of illegal deprivation of life of three Georgian IDPs – Davit Basharuli, Giga Otkhozoria, and Archil Tatunashvili vividly demonstrate the impunity and ethnically driven violence in both occupied territories.
In response to the constant provocative steps, Georgia stays committed to its peaceful conflict resolution agenda. Georgia has spared no effort to fully utilize the peace negotiations in the frames of the Geneva International Discussions as well as Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms to dully address security and humanitarian problems of conflict-affected population stemming from the unresolved conflict between Georgia and Russia. Remaining in full compliance with the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, Georgia has many times unilaterally reaffirmed and implemented the non-use of force commitment, still awaiting the reciprocity from Russian side.
At the same time, Georgia has intensified the efforts towards engagement and reconciliation between the communities divided by war and occupation lines. For that purpose the Government of Georgia has introduced the new peace initiative “A Step to a Better Future” directed to improve humanitarian and socio-economic conditions of people in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and foster people-to-people contacts and confidence building between the divided societies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia highly values the unwavering support of the international society to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, as well as the peaceful conflict resolution process. The Georgian side appeals to the calls upon the international community to further consolidate the efforts in responding the consequences of the August 2008 war and the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Georgia in compliance with the international law.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia once again calls on the Russian Federation to cease its illegal actions on the territory of Georgia and comply with its international obligations, in particular to reverse the decision on recognition of so-called independence of Georgia’s occupied regions and fully implement the EU mediated 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia would like to use this opportunity and express its deepest sympathy to the families and relatives of the soldiers and civil population who fell victim to the August 2008 war.
Frankfurt am main, May 12 – European experts and South Korean peace activists have voiced their support for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula at the 'Pan-European Peace Forum' held in Frankfurt.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a Seoul-based peace NGO as in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), organized the event to advocate international cooperation for global peacebuilding and support for the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas.
Chairman Man Hee Lee, a Korean War veteran, appealed to attendants of the forum, “More than anything else, a peaceful world without war would be the greatest legacy to hand down to our children. If a single country achieves peace, it does not mean the world has become peaceful. Peace has to be realized in the entire world. If each person walks in the path towards peace, peace will be accomplished in the global community.”
Frankfurt city council member Dr. Manfred F. Welker delivered a speech on the need for civil society’s active participation. Recalling the small gatherings in Leipzig that sparked peaceful demonstrations for Germany's reunification, he said what will bring two Koreas together is "not just government cooperation but - as we have seen from Nikolaikirche [St. Nicholas Church, Leipzig] - it will be by the collaboration and efforts of the people.”
Prof. Dr. Hans Köchler from Austria, president of International Progress Organization, said the issues of denuclearization and reunification of Korea are mutually reinforcing. He pointed out the prospect of a reunified Korea will be "the best security guarantee to both the North and the South.”
He also maintained that nuclear disarmament should be carried out not only in Korea but also in the rest of the world, saying “there must be no policy of double standards concerning disarmament obligations of states.” Dr. Köchler is serving as a member of HWPL Peace Advisory Council, a group of policy makers and experts from civil society for advancing peace in the international community.
At the end of the event, Dr. Welker presented to HWPL delegation a Letter of Support for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula and global peace. As in line with its advocacy campaign for global peacebuilding, HWPL is collecting the Letters of Support from state officials to civil leaders, which aim to being sent to the leaders of two Koreas.
Meanwhile, HWPL, to build sustainable peace, is implementing peace education programs in various educational institutions and collaborating with educational experts and teachers worldwide to develop peace education textbooks and curriculums.