On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will be in Rome. He will meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and PM Giorgia Meloni. He will also visit the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis.
First stop: the Holy See. The meeting with the Pope is crucial due to the Vatican’s potential role as a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See, recently stated, “There are confidential updates on the peace mission of the Holy See. I believe we will move forward.”
- The Pope himself announced the peace mission on his return flight from Budapest. Denials from both Moscow and Kyiv immediately followed this.
Following stops: Quirinale and Palazzo Chigi. PM Meloni is expected to be accompanied by Deputy PM Antonio Tajani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, the other Deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, also the Minister of Infrastructure, will not be present.
- President Zelensky will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
- The Italian newspaper Repubblica writes that Deputy PM Salvini will not participate for protocol reasons. The staff emphasizes that “his expressed closeness to Vladimir Putin over the years, as well as his criticism of the Western management of the Ukrainian crisis” by the leader of the League, have nothing to do with it, the newspaper writes. In any case, Salvini did not request to participate in the meeting with Zelensky.
Meloni’s allies. PM Meloni has always emphasized supporting Ukraine with all available means. However, in recent months, her government allies – Salvini and the leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi – have not always taken clear positions.
- Salvini organized a mission to Moscow (the only one from the Atlantic bloc after the Bucha and Irpin massacres), which was then hastily cancelled.
- Berlusconi has repeatedly criticized Zelensky, going so far as to rewrite the history of the conflict, provoking heavy criticism from the Ukrainian president during the press conference with Meloni in Kyiv.
Late April’s Ukraine Reconstruction Conference, which took place in Rome, was an occasion for Italian and Ukrainian politicians and companies to draw up plans to rebuild the invaded country. The event saw the participation of PM Meloni and her Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal, as well as President Volodymyr Zelensky, connected via video link, along with several key ministers, multilateral institutions and representatives of over 1,000 Italian companies.
- Beyond medium to long-term projects, the main focus was providing support for the most urgent reconstruction efforts. On Thursday, over 600 companies will engage in closed-door thematic conferences, as well as B2B and B2G encounters, to offer their advice and services for the “fast recovery” phase.