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For Britain ‘soft Brexit’ is the worst of all worlds

The proposal Britain should adopt a ‘soft Brexit’ would leave Britain an economic vassal of the EU exactly analogous to Ukraine. In reality it is desired neither by the EU nor the leaderships of the two major parties in Britain. The only issue is to negotiate the transitional arrangements leading to ‘hard Brexit’.

Alexander Mercouris

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One inevitable consequence of the British general election is that the unexpectedly strong showing of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party has brought encouragement to those in Britain who claim to want ‘soft Brexit’ but who in reality want no Brexit at all.

To be clear, there is no possibility of Brexit not happening.  I have already explained that the leaderships of both the Conservative and Labour Parties are now fully committed to Brexit, and that Labour’s unexpectedly strong showing in the election was partly due to Jeremy Corbyn’s success in persuading pro-Brexit Labour voting working class voters that the cause of Brexit is safe with him.  By contrast the two parties that continue to support the EU – the Liberal Democrats and the SNP – both lost votes.

It is also fair to point out that Jeremy Corbyn has a much longer history of criticism and opposition to the EU than Theresa May – even though both voted Remain in the Brexit referendum – and that the Brexit Labour advocated during the election in its manifesto is essentially as ‘hard’ as the one advocated by Theresa May.

As to what a ‘hard Brexit’ means, the short answer is that it means Britain’s complete exit from the EU’s institutions, including the Single European Market, which in turn means that Britain would no longer be subject to the body of EU law – the so-called acquis – which is regulated by the European Court of Justice.

That is the only Brexit that makes sense, and irrespective of whether or not Jeremy Corbyn eventually becomes Prime Minister it is the only Brexit that can happen.

To explain let me refer to an article I wrote two years on the subject of the association agreement between the EU and Ukraine.  Here is what I said about it

Most people believe the [association] agreement is intended to create a free trade area between the EU and Ukraine.

It is easy to understand why people think this since that is what the Association Agreement itself says in Article 25:

“The Parties shall progressively establish a free trade area over a transitional period of maximum 10 years starting from the entry into force of this Agreement, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement and in conformity with Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (hereinafter referred to as ‘GATT 1994’).”

Establishing “a free trade area” (in the commonly-understood meaning of that term) between the EU and Ukraine is not however what the Association Agreement actually does.

At almost a thousand pages, the text of the Association Agreement is extremely long and uses convoluted and technical language.

This is intentional. The text has been deliberately made much longer and far more technical than it needs to be, precisely so as to confuse people.

It is certainly far longer and much more complex and technical than it would need to be if its purpose really was merely to create a free trade area. Here by comparison is the text of the EU Association Agreement with Chile. This too purports to be a free trade agreement between the EU and Chile.

Reading the two documents side by side, the similarities are obvious; but so are the differences. The Association Agreement with Ukraine is much longer and far more technical and complex.

What the EU officials who drew up the document have done is take a standard form of the Association Agreement the EU routinely uses when it negotiates free trade agreements with non-EU countries and graft onto it something completely different.

So what does the Ukraine EU Association Agreement actually do?

What it does is require Ukraine to adopt the whole body of EU law as it affects regulation of its economy.

EU officials call this body of EU law the acquis. Those with the time and inclination to read through the document will see this word appears constantly throughout the text.

The key omnibus provision is Article 56, in the section that deals with removing “technical barriers to trade”:

“2. With a view to reaching these objectives, Ukraine shall, in line with the timetable in Annex III [to this Agreement]: (i) incorporate the relevant EU acquis into the legislation of Ukraine.”

Since Ukraine is committing itself to make the acquis its law, it is surrendering regulation of its economy to the EU in Brussels. Questions of regulation of Ukraine’s economy will no longer be decided by the Ukrainian government and parliament in Kiev, but by the European Council and the EU Commission in Brussels.

Moreover what the EU decides will have the force of law. This is made quite clear by the single most important paragraph in the entire document (buried on page 187):

 “Article 322

Dispute settlement relating to regulatory approximation

The procedures set out in this Article shall apply to disputes relating to the interpretation and application of obligations contained in relating to regulatory or legislative approximation contained in Chapter 3 (Technical Barriers to Trade), Chapter 4 ( Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures), Chapter 6 (Services, Establishment and Electronic Commerce) and Chapter 8 (Public Procurement) [of this Agreement].

Where a dispute raises a question of interpretation of an act of the institutions of the European Union, the arbitration tribunal shall not decide the question, but request the Court of Justice of the European Union to give a ruling on the question. In such cases, the deadlines applying to the rulings of the arbitration panel shall be suspended until the Court of Justice of the European Union has given its ruling. The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the arbitration tribunal.”

Since the entire point of the Association Agreement is “regulatory or legislative approximation” through wholesale adoption of the acquis in the key economic areas mentioned in Article 322, what this paragraph does is give the EU effective control of Ukraine’s economy, with the EU’s decisions having the force of law, with the right of enforcement given not to Ukraine’s own courts, but to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

To hide away this provision the Association Agreement creates an elaborate arbitration system to settle disputes. However, since in deciding legal questions the arbitration tribunal is bound by decisions of the European Court of Justice, the final decision always ultimately rests with the EU.

Other sections of the Association Agreement are equally far reaching, with Ukraine for example required to harmonize its foreign, defense, tax and transport policies with those of the EU, to base its intellectual property law on that of the EU, and even to allow unrestricted access to EU investigators undertaking “anti-corruption” investigations in Ukraine.

The Association Agreement does not therefore just create a free trade area.  What it does – and what it is intended to do – is make Ukraine in effect a part of the European Economic Area and of the European Single Market administered by the EU Commission in Brussels.

It does so despite Ukraine remaining outside the EU. Ukraine is surrendering control of its economy to the EU without the corresponding benefit of EU membership.

Many people within the EU today complain about the power the democratically-unaccountable institutions of the EU have over their lives. They are however at least represented in the EU through their governments and can vote in elections to the European parliament. Ukraine’s people will have no representation at all, and no say through their government in what the EU decides for them.

(bold italics added)

‘Soft Brexit’ is Ukraine’s EU association agreement applied to Britain.  Just as by committing itself to the association agreement Ukraine has over control of its economy to the EU without the corresponding benefits of EU membership, so ‘soft Brexit’ would hand over control of Britain’s economy to the EU without the corresponding benefit for Britain of EU membership.

Just as the EU institutions (the European Council, the Council of Ministers and the EU Commission) are entitled by Ukraine’s association agreement to regulate the entire working of Ukraine’s economy, so if Britain went for a ‘soft Brexit’ they would be entitled to regulate the entire working of Britain’s economy.

Since Ukraine is not a member of the EU, and since Britain will cease to be a member of the EU in two years time, Ukraine and Britain will have no say in either case, and decisions of the European Court of Justice on law they have no part in making will be binding on both.

If the association agreement has robbed Ukraine of its economic independence, turning it into an economic satellite and vassal state of the EU, so the ‘soft Brexit’ some support would do exactly the same for Britain.

I cannot see any possible merit in this.  ‘Soft Brexit’ would simply make Britain even more subordinate to the EU than it is already, whilst depriving it of such say in EU decision as it currently has as an EU member state.

I cannot see how this is remotely consistent with the clear and unambiguous decision to leave the EU taken by the British people in the Brexit referendum last year, and I am sure that many of those who campaign for a ‘soft Brexit’ know it.

Their agenda is to create an unsatisfactory half-way house, which they hope to leverage to bring Britain eventually back into the EU when the current anti-EU mood – as they hope – has subsided.

In reality precisely because ‘soft Brexit’ is so unsatisfactory it isn’t going to happen.  Neither the Conservative nor the Labour leaderships support it, and in Jeremy Corbyn’s case he unquestionably knows that the strongly social democratic manifesto he put to the British people in the election cannot be implemented if Britain goes for a ‘soft Brexit’ because key provisions of that manifesto – such as the re-nationalisation of the  railway system – are incompatible with EU law.

Moreover – a point that is repeatedly overlooked – it is doubtful that a ‘soft Brexit’ is what the EU wants either.  A good explanation of why has been provided in the Financial Times by the columnist Wolfgang Münchau who has also explained why for procedural reasons Brexit is now essentially irreversible

Brexit, hard or soft, is not the UK’s decision alone. It is not even primarily the UK’s decision. The second is that the Brexit process is driven by the legal procedures of the EU, not whether commentators think a UK prime minister has a mandate or not. And finally, from a European perspective, it does not matter whether the UK has a minority government, a coalition or a governing party with a 100-seat majority. Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, never achieved a result as good as Mrs May did last week.

Both are improbable. But even then, the reversal of Article 50 would not happen automatically. It may not even be legally possible.

Even in the unlikely case that the European Court of Justice were to give an opinion on this issue, the final decision does not lie with the British parliament, but with the European Council, which is guided by its own self-interest.

If Brexit cannot technically be reversed, can it be materially altered or softened?

I do not see how this is possible, either, except through a longer transition period. Mrs May’s letter triggering Article 50 laid down two clear conditions: no membership of the customs union and no membership of the single market.

What very few Remainers in the UK seem to realise is that the EU favours a Brexit with no single market and customs union membership, because it makes a difficult negotiating process easier. The degrees of hardness and softness are not unilateral choices to be taken by the UK electorate.

(bold italics added)

As Wolfgang Münchau says, the real issue is not whether there will be a ‘soft Brexit’ or a ‘hard Brexit’ – the only possible outcome is a ‘hard Brexit’ whoever Britain’s Prime Minister is – but negotiating the transitional arrangements needed to achieve it.

Negotiating those transitional arrangements and agreeing how long they will last is a colossal and massively complex undertaking, all the more so as it must be done in parallel with the equally massive task of preparing for life Britain outside the EU.

The expertise to do all this exists in Britain, but it will require the widest possible degree of consultation and openness to work out an effective strategy.  Theresa May’s preposterous proposal to EU Commission President Juncker to conduct the whole Brexit negotiation in secret is the diametric opposite of what the situation requires.  If she now leaves office, making it possible for someone more attune with the realities of the situation to take over, then the election Britain has just had may turn out to be Britain’s deliverance.

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Fusion GPS founder trapped in legal jeopardy, bets on Democrat midterm win to bury Russiagate hoax (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 135.

Alex Christoforou

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Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr and ex-FBI official James Baker are set to testify before Congress, but Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson is taking the Fifth.

The man at the center of the Russiagate hoax, Glenn Simpson, headed the espionage/PR smear firm Fusion GPS, which ordered the discredited and fake Trump ‘dossier’, which John McCain handed to the FBI, and which Buzzfeed News published as actual news.

Simpson has a lot of explaining to do, and now appears trapped in his “under oath” lies.

Simpson had previously testified under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that he never met with DOJ official Bruce Ohr, husband to Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr.

Simpson also stated under oath that he never discussed with Bruce Ohr the Steele dossier prior to the October FISA application, which was used to spy on Carter Page and kick off the ‘Russiagate hoax’.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the legal jeopardy entangling Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson. Republicans are close to breaking the ‘Russiagate hoax’ wide open, but Simpson is betting on delay tactics, and a subsequent Democrat midterm House victory, to save his ass from prosecution, and bury his involvement in a brazen attempt to discredit and remove an elected US President.

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According to Zerohedge, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson may be in “real legal jeopardy” over inconsistent testimony given to Congress regarding his involvement in a massive counterintelligence effort against then-candidate Donald Trump, including the infamous Steele dossier.

Speaking with Fox News Maria Bartiromo, John Ratcliffe (R-TX) said…

“I’m not surprised that Glenn Simpson is taking the Fifth.”

“He probably should. He’s in real legal jeopardy. Very clearly someone is not telling the truth.”

Via The Daily Caller… 

Simpson, who investigated the Trump campaign on behalf of the DNC and Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, informed Congress on Thursday that he will plead the Fifth to avoid speaking with members of the House Judiciary and House Oversight & Government Committee in an interview set for Tuesday.

“The reason for that … is that Glenn Simpson had previously testified under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that he never met with Bruce Ohr or discussed with Bruce Ohr the Steele dossier prior to the October FISA application in 2016 or the 2016 presidential election,” said Ratcliffe, a member of the House Judiciary panel.

Via Fox News ‘Sunday Morning Futures’

Via Zerohedge

Ohr told the Judiciary and Oversight & Government Reform Committees in an August 28 interview that he met with Simpson in August and December of 2016 to discuss Fusion GPS’s opposition research into Donald Trump.

Bruce’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was hired by Fusion GPS for the anti-Trump effort at the time.

Simpson, however, told a different story to the House Intelligence Committee on November 14, 2017, when he said that he hadn’t been in contact with anyone from the DOJ or FBI until after the election. While he did acknowledge meeting with Bruce Ohr (meetings which would result in Ohr’s demotion), Simpson never disclosed his wife’s employment.

“Ohr, who has been demoted twice since December, was also in frequent contact with Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous anti-Trump dossier. Steele, a former British spy, was hired by Fusion GPS in June 2016 to investigate the Trump campaign’s possible links to the Kremlin.

Steele met with the Ohrs on July 30, 2016, a day before the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation into the Trump team. Ohr met just after with FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe.” – Daily Caller

Following the 2016 election, Steel and Ohr met over a dozen times, despite the FBI having blacklisted Steele for improper media disclosures concerning his work.

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Hillary and Holder are hurting Democrat Party with their rhetoric

Democrat-written opinion piece points out the fact that the party has radicalized so much it has left its own supporters behind.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News ran an opinion piece written by Douglas E. Schoen early Sunday. It points out how radicalized the Democrat Party has become, and it is noteworthy because Douglas Schoen is a Democrat himself. He writes (emphasis added):

As Democrats campaign for the Nov. 6 midterm elections, they have plenty of legitimate criticisms to level at President Trump and Republicans who control the House and Senate. But Democrats were hurt in recent days by amazing and disgusting comments made by Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

As a Democrat, I want my party to win as many seats as possible in the House and Senate and to capture as many governorships and other state offices as it can. But the Clinton and Holder remarks do not advance that effort – they hurt it.

Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Clinton said Tuesday that “you cannot be civil with” the Republican Party because it “wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” She added that “if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

But even worse than Clinton’s comments were those of Eric Holder, who said at a recent campaign event in Georgia that Democrats should abandon the advice of former first lady Michelle Obama, who said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention that her party and mine should respond positively to negative attacks from the GOP.

Mrs. Obama said that “when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.”

Holder argued just the opposite, saying: “When they go low, we kick them. That’s what this new Democratic Party is about.” He later said he wasn’t advocating violence – not literal kicking.

I beg to differ with both Clinton and Holder.

The only way the Democrats can regain the majority in either or both houses of Congress is by being civil, and pointing out the differences between Democrats and Republicans on the issues.

This is the real issue that should govern elections. Rather than the politics of popularity, one needs to consider policy points and which side offers points that are actually achievable, believable, concrete, desirable and specific. Calling President Trump and his administration names does not offer any constructive dialogue on policy matters.

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Conservatives and Trump supporters know this and it is precisely because of this that Donald Trump won the White House.

While the mainstream media (and here we can include Fox News largely) tried every possible way to ridicule Donald Trump’s candidacy, the people that actually listened to what he had to say found him very impressive on policy as much as his ability to speak as the voice of the people. The recent hysteria around Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court was hysteria up front, driven by real policy fears from the deep core of liberals, as they know that this Justice is likely to form an effective wall against liberals ramming their agenda through the courts since their efforts fail legislatively so often.

Mr. Schoen continues:

As a centrist Democrat, the issue that strikes me most is the degree to which the national debt and the deficit are now out of control.

America faces uncertain and unstable times financially. Yet we are seeing a Republican-controlled Congress that has largely failed to do anything besides provide tax cuts for major corporations and the wealthiest individuals. This is by no means certain to have fundamentally altered the path of the economy or to provide economic growth.

Put another way, what the Trump administration has failed to do is to fix health care and cover pre-existing conditions more fundamentally; lead America in a fiscally responsible way; and pass tax cuts that help the average American. The Trump tax cuts have driven up the national debt and endangered funding for programs that benefit millions of people in our country.

So, here are policy points. Now we can begin to have a debate. Is Mr. Schoen right, or wrong in his information? This is far different than name-calling!

Democrats have long argued the need for a centrist agenda that focuses on:

  • Providing health-care benefits – whether private or public – to all Americans to cover expansively all pre-existing conditions.
  • Protecting the environment from the policies of the Trump administration that have only encouraged –and I dare say exacerbated – environmental degradation and climate change.
  • Promoting a pro-growth, inclusive agenda that seeks to put working people first, and the interests of Washington insiders and economic elites second. President Trump claims that he is doing this – he calls it “draining the swamp” – but this has not happened.

There is no justification for the angry rhetoric of Clinton and Holder, which only feeds into Republican claims that Democrats are an angry mob that can’t get over Clinton’s loss to Trump two years ago.

And Holder looks particularly bad because he was once the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, yet now sounds like he is effectively advocating what appears to be either illegal activities, or metaphorical initiatives that run counter to our traditions and our politics.

Hillary Clinton has said she won’t run for office again, but Holder has said he may run for president in 2020. Whoever the Democratic candidate turns out to be needs to be a responsible and respectable opponent – not one who calls for kicking the GOP or for incivility.

We should have learned from the Senate confirmation hearing for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that resisting for the sake of resisting doesn’t work. In fact, Democratic attacks on Kavanaugh may well have backfired, recent polls show.

The Democratic Party itself is lost now, without a message, a direction, a strategy, or agenda to confront a Republican Party that is seen as in many ways as having let the American people down.

We need change – but it must be constructive change. This Democrat believes that the comments that Eric Holder and Hillary Clinton made are wrong, counterproductive, and deserve to be rejected by the leadership of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps Fox News ran this opinion piece because Douglas Schoen is the first rational Democrat contributor to say anything in some time. However, it also appears that Mr. Schoen is a minority in his own party. It is a greatly logical approach to argue policy, as he has and as anyone who really understands American government should. But it is unclear as to whether the bulk of the Democrat Party even has reasonable people remaining.

If they do, it may well be that they are being betrayed by their party’s increasingly leftist and radical positions. The Party apparatus seems focused, but it also seems to have left people like Mr. Schoen behind.

Who knows? Maybe that will bring them into the Trump camp.

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Patriarch Bartholomew lifts anathemas on schismatics in Ukraine (VIDEO)

Most of the Orthodox world is in strong opposition to this move by Patriarch Bartholomew, whose motivations seem not to be of Christ.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The biggest news in the Eastern Orthodox world in recent times occurred on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, lifted the anathemas against two schismatic Ukrainian Churches and their leaders, paving the way to the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian national Orthodox Church.

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This announcement was given in English and is shown here in video with the textual transcript following:

“Presided by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened for its regular session from October 9 to 11, 2018 in order to examine and discuss items on its agenda. The Holy Synod discussed in particular and at length, the ecclesiastical mater of Ukraine in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon and His Grace Bishp Ilarion of Edmonon, Patriarchal Exarchs to Ukraine, and following extensive deliberations decreed (emphasis added):

First, to renew the decision already made, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate proceed to the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine;

Second, to re-establish at this moment the stavropegion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Kiev—one of its many starvorpegion in Ukraine that existed there always;

Third, to accept and review the petitions of appeal of Philaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich and their followers who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy of all the autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church;

Fourth, to revoke the legal binding of the Synodal letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through economia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the clergy-laity assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the first hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople;

Fifth, to appeal to all sides involved that they avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties as well as every other act of violence and retaliation so that he peace and love of Christ may prevail.”

There are a few things that must be said about what this declaration is not before we get to the matter of what the points of actually are. The point of reference is the strict letter of the text above itself.

  • This is not a granting of autocephaly (full independent self-rule status) like the fourteen universally canonical Orthodox jurisdictions in the world. However, it is a huge step towards this status.
  • As far as Constantinople is concerned, Filaret Denisenko, the leader and “Patriarch” of the “Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” and Makary, the “Metropolitan” of the “Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church”, and all their faithful are now restored to communion. The statement says that this applies to “The Church” which may be trying to state that these two men (and all the faithful that they lead), are now in communion with the entirety of canonical Orthodoxy, but more likely, this may be a carefully worded statement to say they now are in communion with Constantinople alone.
  • There is an official call for the cessation of the violence directed against the Moscow Patriarchate parishes and communities, who are the only canonically recognized Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and who are also the largest by far in that country. The Kyiv Patriarchate and Uniate (Roman oriented) Greek Catholics in Ukraine have gone on record for seizing MP church properties, often by force, with neo-Nazi sympathizers and other radical Ukrainian nationalists. So this official call to cease the violence is now a matter of public record.

However, the reaction has been far less civil than the clergy wished for.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko: “Expressing his view of the Moscow Patriarchate, Poroshenko added, “This is a great victory of the God-loving Ukrainian people over the Moscow demons, the victory of Good over Evil, the victory of Light over Darkness.”’

Perhaps this is the reason Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine (exarch under the Moscow Patriarchate) has been labeled an enemy of Ukraine and is now receiving death threats. Very civil.

Poroshenko’s statement is all the more bizarre, considering that it has been Ukrainian ultra-nationalists that have been violently attacking Moscow – related parishes in Ukraine. This has been corroborated by news sources eager to pin the blame on Russia, such as the U.K. Guardian.

The Union of Orthodox Journalists, based in Kiev and supportive of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been under intense cyber attack since October 11th, when the EP’s announcement was issued.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil and Brovary: “What happened at the Synod in Istanbul yesterday shocked the entire Orthodox world. It seems the Patriarchate of Constantinople is consciously embarking on a path of schism in world Orthodoxy. Patriarch Bartholomew ignored the calls of the Local Churches to convene a meeting of the primates to work out a common and conciliar solution to the Ukrainian Church issue and unilaterally made very serious but erroneous decisions. I hope the Orthodox world will give this action an objective evaluation… Having received the schismatics into communion, Patriarch Bartholomew did not make them canonical, but has himself embarked on the path of schism. The schismatics remain schismatics. They did not receive any autocephaly or tomos. It seems they have lost even that independence, although non-canonical, that they had and which they always emphasized.”

Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia:“The Orthodox world recognizes the only canonical primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. This fact was repeatedly mentioned and confirmed by the primate of the Great Church of Christ His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on behalf of all present at the Synaxis of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches that was held in Chambésy (Switzerland) from January 21 to 27, 2016. Therefore, any attempt to legalize the Ukrainian schismatics by the state authorities should be strongly condemned by all the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches.

Patriarch Irinej of Serbia wrote two letters to the Ecumenical Patriarch, advocating that the provision of a new autocephaly is possible only with the consent of all local Orthodox Churches. According to Sedmitza.ru (Translation by Pravoslavie.ru),

“In these letters, it was very clearly stated that the granting of autocephaly cannot be the prerogative the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone, that new autocephalies must be created only with the consent of all the Local Orthodox Churches, as the Holy Synod of Antioch also said in its recent statement.”

Pat. Irinej also warned the Patriarchate of Constantinople against making such major decisions unilaterally, because “it will not bring harmony and peace to the Ukrainian land, but, on the contrary, will cause new divisions and new schisms.”

The Holy Synod of Antioch, the oldest Orthodox Church, and actually the very first place where the disciples of Christ were even called “Christians” weighed in on the issue as well and they had several things to say:

“The fathers examined the general Orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to a unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissensions and quarrels within the one Church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox world.

To summarize, this move by Constantinople is not being warmly received by many, many people. Most of the local Churches are on record giving their reaction to this process. In brief, here is the list most of the Local Churches and a one or two word summary of their reactions.

Patriarchate of Georgia: Unilateral action is wrong; Constantinople and Moscow must cooperate and find a solution together.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem: recognizes Ukraine as a canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church alone, as do all other local Churches

Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa: The Church does not bow to politicians. Moscow-led church is the only canonical Church in Ukraine.

Archbishop of Cyprus: Decries the Ukrainian situation but offered to mediate a discussion between Moscow and Constantinople

Bulgarian Patriarchate: Interference of the State in Church affairs leads to serious and negative consequences for both.

Polish Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Sawa called for a council of Orthodox ruling hierarchs to discuss this situation.

Estonian Orthodox Church: Condemns Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

Greek Archdiocese of America: Supports Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine.

The Orthodox Church of Greece (Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus quoted): “Schismatics, as we know, are not the Church, and communion with them is forbidden by the Divine and holy canons and the Apostolic and Ecumenical Councils. Why then this persistence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in recognizing schismatics as an autocephalous Church? To provoke schisms and divisions in the one universal and Apostolic Church of Christ?”

Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR): Ceased commemoration of Constantinople, ceased concelebration with Constantinople.

This issue has also rocked the secular geopolitical world.

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