Plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
on item 36: Protracted conflicts in the GUAM area
[Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova]
and their implications for international peace, security and development
8 June 2022
The delegation of the Holy See welcomes this opportunity to address the topic of protracted conflicts in the GUAM area.
Protracted or frozen conflicts not only obstruct relations between States, peoples, ethnic and religious groups, and individuals, but they also inhibit integral human development, and are at a continual risk of reigniting widespread violence. When persistent disputes remain in a state of negative peace, it is all too easy for the international community to move on to seemingly more pressing issues. This is done, however, at great peril – to the people on the ground, to the parties to the conflicts and to the international community’s work to put an end to the scourge of war. The Holy See continues to insist that peace is not merely the absence of war, it is rather an enterprise of justice, which is never attained once and for all, but must be built up ceaselessly. With this in mind, the Holy See supports all efforts aimed at “supporting dialogue and respect for international law as a means of resolving” these conflicts.
The Holy See, as a founding participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), would like to highlight the key role the organization should play in facilitating the end of these protracted conflicts. The Holy See fully supports the efforts undertaken in the Transnistrian settlement process, and the work of the Minsk Group aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Additionally, this Delegation commends the “early warning” and “early action” of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, whose monitoring and promotion of the rights of ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities – in line with OSCE commitments – help to sustain peace and respond to tensions that could arise in the OSCE area.
The hostilities in Ukraine vividly illustrate the danger of underestimating or diverting attention away from unresolved conflicts or situations of escalating tension. The war in Ukraine is undermining international peace and security, with alarming implications for food security and the global economy. In this regard, the Holy See reiterates its call for an immediate cease-fire, the continued establishment and respect for humanitarian corridors, as well as a sincere and decisive focus on negotiations, in good faith, for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The intense resumption of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh two years ago also reinforced the need for greater diplomatic efforts. It remains this Delegation’s hope that ongoing negotiations will lead to “a true peace, founded on mutual respect [and] encounter.” In this regard, the Holy See welcomes the joint convening of commissions on delimitation and border security, which intend to lay the groundwork for further renewal of economic, social, and cultural ties. As part of these efforts, this Delegation encourages the parties to ensure that any final agreement protects religious sites and permits worshippers to access them on either side of the border.
In closing, I wish to recall Pope Francis’s 2016 visits to Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, which he made “to support all efforts on the road to peace, and to share steps on the path of reconciliation, which generates hope.” May the road to peace and the path towards reconciliation become a tangible reality across the GUAM area.
Thank you, Mr. President.
 Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 78.
 Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps, 9 January 2020.
 Pope Francis, Address during the Interreligious Meeting with the Sheikh and with the Representatives of the Different Religious Communities of Azerbaijan, 2 October 2016.
 Pope Francis, Video Message on the Occasion of the Apostolic Journey to Armenia, 22 June 2016.