President of Belarus to visit Italy and the Vatican May 20-21


President of Belarus to visit Italy and the Vatican May 20-21

Alexander Lukashenko on May 20-21 will visit Italy and the Vatican. The program of the visit includes the President's talks with the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella. 

The visit will begin on Quirinale - one of the highest of the seven hills of Rome. Here you can find 13 churches and six palaces. But when Italians say Quirinale, they mean the entire state apparatus of the country, like the pair Moscow - the Kremlin. Here is the official residence of Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

It is expected that the Belarusian President will discuss with the Italian counterpart a number of issues, including trade and economic and investment potential. There are plans to increase the pace or the bilateral trade growth and double turnover. For this to happen, the sides need to agree on some of the details on the regulatory framework. 

After removing of EU sanctions against Belarus Alexander Lukashenko's visit to Italy and the Vatican will be a new stage in the establishment of not only cultural, spiritual, economic dialogue, but also political one, experts say.

The country in the Apennine Peninsula has close contacts with Belarus in all areas. For example, Italians are the only nation in Europe allowed to adopt Belarusian children. In addition, solidarity programs with Italy are being implemented, including on the mitigation of the Chernobyl disaster aftermath.

Alexander Guryanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Italy:
When the Chernobyl disaster struck, Italy, the government and humanitarian organizations in Italy, and Italian families were the first to respond to our misfortune. Since the Chernobyl accident, more than 500,000 Belarusian children visited Italy.

On Saturday, the Belarusian President will meet with Pope Francis. The meeting has been planned since December 4, 2015, when Alexander Lukashenko met in the Palace of Independence with the Apostolic Nuncio Claudio Gugerotti. In March 2015, the President of Belarus gave the pontiff a gift - the icon "The Immaculate Heart of Mary", made using the ancient wood technique.

This is the second visit of Alexander Lukashenko to the Vatican. The first one took place in April 2009. Back then the Belarusian President, together with his youngest son Nikolai, met with the previous head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.

This Saturday Mr Lukashenko will get familiar with His Holiness Francis. A red carpet will be rolled out in the Apostolic Palace, with Swiss Guards meeting the visitor.

After the meeting the President will visit the Vatican Museum, an exhibition of Belarusian icons of the 17th-21st century, which is open a few steps from the Sistine Chapel. Alexander Lukashenko will be accompanied by the Secretary of State of His Holiness - the second man after the Pope in the Vatican.