Warm welcome for Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Rome

Status: 05/13/2023 5:27 p.m

Italy is firmly on Ukraine’s side. This became clear during Zelensky’s visit to Rome. Prime Minister Meloni promised Kiev further support. The Ukrainian President is coming to Berlin tomorrow.

Moritz Pompl

The symbolism speaks volumes when Volodymyr Zelenskyj arrives at Giorgia Meloni’s. A large Ukrainian flag flies from the balcony of the Government Palace in the heart of Rome. In the inner courtyard, the Italian Prime Minister welcomes the Ukrainian President with a warm hug and a firm handshake, surrounded by military officers in festive clothes. After a two-hour meeting with lunch together, both emphasize their alliance.

“My friend Volodymyr Zelenskyj is here today and that is a sign that Ukraine is counting on a common future with a strong Italy,” said Meloni.

Meloni calls the war a brutal and unjust aggression by Russia. This attitude is not a matter of course in their right-wing governing coalition. It consists of its own party, the Fratelli d’Italia, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s Lega. Berlusconi and Salvini have repeatedly expressed their sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

weapons shipments continued

But Meloni has made it clear since the start of the Ukraine war and even before her election as prime minister last fall: Italy is on Ukraine’s side. Your government has continued the arms shipments that had begun under the Mario Draghi government before it.

In the meantime, Italy has launched six military support packages worth around one billion euros. After all, that is significantly more than a third of what the federal government has made available so far.

Rome wants Ukraine as EUaccession candidate

Italy is also campaigning for Ukraine to become a candidate for EU membership. Meloni emphasized: “We will continue to support Ukraine as best we can with this integration into the EU. And also help with the necessary reforms.”

Selenskyj expresses his thanks for this help in Rome. At the joint press conference, he describes the suffering of his citizens, that of the many kidnapped children. He speaks of an “important visit to achieve victory for Ukraine”.

Height safety precautions

For him, Italy is the first stop on a journey through various European countries. The travel plans are top secret for security reasons. Selenskyj only landed in Rome under high security precautions in the morning.

The inner city is heavily protected, with snipers on the roofs, patrols even on the Tiber and helicopters. According to media reports, around 1,500 security forces are deployed. Special checks are carried out at airports, train stations and underground stations.

After landing, accompanied by Italian fighter jets, Selenskyj was first taken to the Quirinal Palace to see Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella. He received him with the words: “We are completely on your side, welcome Mr. President.”

Private audience with Pope Francis

After meeting Meloni, Zelenskyy is invited to a private audience with Pope Francis. He had repeatedly emphasized that he wanted to seize every opportunity to promote peace. According to Francis, the Vatican supports a peace mission and wants to keep the dialogue open with Moscow. In fact, the head of the Catholic Church could play a special mediating role in possible talks with Russia’s Church leader Cyril.

In the evening, Selenskyj is also scheduled to appear on a talk show before continuing to Germany. On Sunday, he is to be honored there – on behalf of the Ukrainian people – with the Charlemagne Prize.

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