Warsaw (ENI). A senior official of the Russian Orthodox Church has made a scathing attack on Western countries and has said they should not impose their standards on other nations. "We should have a strong State and a strong military, for we would then have the will and ability to repel any invasion against our way of life and interests, and our ability to influence events developing in the world," said the Rev. Vsevolod Chaplin, deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations.
In an interview broadcast on Russia's Soyuz television channel, the church official urged his country to defend "its free, original political choice" and reject Western models, "setting its laws and rules the way which is natural for our nation, its destiny, mentality and historical ways".
Speaking of Western countries, Chaplin said, "In spite of all their talk of adhering to international law and respecting self-determination, these countries have always acted solely in their own interests and applied quite contrary principles."
Chaplin is a member of the central committees, or main governing bodies, of both the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches, and is a member of an expert panel on freedom of religion of the Organisation on Security and Co-operation in Europe.
His interview was also carried by the Interfax news agency on 31 August, ahead of an emergency meeting of European Union leaders the following day to discuss responses to Russia's recent military action in Georgia.
Defending the Russian army action, Chaplin said the United States and NATO had sent troops to countries where "the people have never asked for it, and neither referendums nor votes were held on the question".
He added, "Why does the West believe, as [U.S. President George W.] Bush has clearly stated, that only one form of democracy and of people's participation in decisions, the Western form, is compulsory and should be set out for all nations and countries?"
Chaplin asserted, "Survival is impossible for a society deprived of faith as a foundation of public life and of any purpose except consumption, and which embraces the ideal of imposing a particular form of democracy around the globe simply because it is expedient for American banks, Western governments, and the world economic and media elite."
In his Soyuz interview, Chaplin said Western governments had "omitted and rejected the idea of territorial integrity" by recognising the independence of Kosovo in February, and had said nothing about Georgian violence in South Ossetia. He noted, "We need to remain strong, and be determined to say 'no' to everyone who tries to spread their influence in the world at our expense, by infringing our interests."