Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni met today at the Farnesina with Cardinal Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Church. The meeting fell within the framework of Italy’s privileged relations with Lebanon and the country’s Christian community.
Discussions concerned the complex political-institutional crisis in Lebanon that for a year and a half has impeded the election of a President of the Republic. Minister Gentiloni expressed Italy’s concern for the negative consequences that this institutional stalemate could potentially have on the political-religious equilibria and conveyed his appreciation for the mediation between Maronite political leaders ensured by Patriarch Rai. Gentiloni confirmed Italy’s full commitment to contributing to the stability of Lebanon, declaring that, “the presence of our soldiers in the UN peacekeeping mission (UNIFIL) bears witness to Italy’s lasting and concrete commitment to supporting peace in Lebanon”. Also discussed were the repercussions of the Syrian conflict on the economic and social stability of Lebanon, where approximately one and a half million Syrian refugees are now living. He also reiterated Italy’s support for a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
The meeting also treated the theme of the living conditions of Christians in the Orient, and the threats that affect ethnic and religious minorities in the region. Minister Gentiloni confirmed Italy’s traditional pledge to work to foster peaceful coexistence and inter-faith respect.