Putin, Pope: About an hour of talks on the crises in Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela

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Putin, Pope: About an hour of talks on the crises in Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela

By Salvatore Cernuzio/ lastampa.it

Vladimir Putin's visit to the Vatican on July 4, 2019 began in a "traditional" way, the first stage of the ten-hour trip to Rome. And that is with the delay of the president of the Russian Federation that, as already in the previous hearings with the Pope of 2013 and 2015 (on this last occasion the minutes of waiting had been seventy), was presented by Francesco at around 14.05. So about an hour later than the scheduled time on the agenda, 1.15pm.

The "tsar" has found a postcard Rome waiting for him, with a via della Conciliazione uncluttered by tourists, all crowded behind the barriers with smartphones in hand (some girls waved the USSR flag nostalgically), and not even the shadow of garbage now ubiquitous in the capital. Preceded by the noise of helicopters and a procession of about thirty gendarmes' and policemen's cars and motorcycles, the armored limousine with the president (an Aurus Senat of almost six and a half meters) aboard the state gate at 14.05 of the Vatican City.

The first stop was the courtyard of San Damaso where the head of state, in black suit, was greeted by the guard of honor of the Swiss Guard, by the Gentlemen of His Holiness and by Monsignor Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal House, who has accompanied in the second loggia of the Apostolic Palace. This was followed by a large delegation which included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Industry Minister Denis Manturov

In the Sala del Tronetto the meeting with Francesco began. The Pope went to the president smiling and greeted him with a warm handshake. "Benvenuto", "grazie", were the first words exchanged between the two.

Instead, the interview took place in the Library Room. Seated opposite each other at the large Renaissance wooden table, in the presence of an interpreter, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Vladimir Putin talked for 55 minutes addressing various international issues: "During the cordial interviews both parties expressed satisfaction for the development of bilateral relations, further strengthened with the signing, today, of a memorandum of understanding concerning the collaboration between the "Bambino Gesù" Hospital and the Pediatric Hospitals of the Russian Federation "to enhance bilateral collaboration in the field of medical assistance and scientific research, the Holy See Press Office said.

Then address "some important issues for the life of the Catholic Church in Russia" and, during the conversation, the Pope and president also focused "on the ecological question and on some issues of current international affairs, with particular reference to Syria, to the Ukraine and Venezuela ». Topics already anticipated in recent days by the Russian ambassador to the Holy See, Aleksandr Avdeev, who underlined the excellent "relationship of trust" between the leader of Russia and the Pope of the universal Church.

In particular, the crisis in Ukraine remains a problem to be resolved: a theme already discussed in the colloquium of 10 June 2015 sealed by the Pope's invitation to "stop the violence" and "encourage concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict". For a series of coincidences twenty-four hours after the hearing with Putin, Francis will receive the Permanent Synod and the Metropolitans of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, precisely to discuss the dramas of the East European country, once a land of revolutions and famine, in the present scenario of wars. Like that of the Donbass that since 2014 has caused about 10 thousand deaths.

In today's hearing, the Pope's invitation to visit the Russia he was rumored to have missed in the past few days and that the Kremlin denied yesterday. An important step that would have written a new page of history in the relations between Rome and Moscow, but above all between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which came closer after centuries of distance thanks to the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba three years ago.

Significant - and numerous compared to the usual - the gifts given by the Pope at the end of today's hearing, starting with an etching depicting a view of Piazza San Pietro made in 1774 by Giuseppe Masi. "So he will not forget Rome," said Francesco, also giving the medal of the sixth year of his pontificate, the "Document on Human Brotherhood" signed in Abu Dhabi with the great imam of Al-Azhar, the exhortation on holiness Gaudete et Exsultate and the one on the young Christus vivit, in addition to the message for the World Day of Peace 2019. "It is this year's message that I signed for you today," said Bergoglio.

Putin reciprocated with an icon of Saints Peter and Paul: "You celebrate on June 29, we celebrate it on July 12," he said. And he also gave the CD of a film still unpublished entitled "Sin" ("The sin", ed) of the well-known director 80 years old Andrei Konchalovsky dedicated to the figure of Michelangelo, together with a book that shows the frames of the film.

"Pray for me," Pope Francis said before dismissing the Russian leader who replied: "Thank you for the time you have given me. Very substantial and interesting conversation ». Putin then stopped with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the "Foreign Minister" of the Holy See, Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher.

At the end of his visit to the Vatican, Putin moved to the Quirinale for lunch with the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. At 4.15 pm, the meeting was scheduled at Palazzo Chigi with the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, at the end of which a joint press conference is scheduled. The two presidents will then move to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to participate, at 6.30 pm, in the Forum for Italo-Russian dialogue of civil societies, organized in collaboration with the Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).

On Putin's Roman day there should also be a strictly private meeting with FI president Silvio Berlusconi. The last appointment is at 7.30 pm at Villa Madama for the dinner of the two delegations.

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 13:12
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