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Ratas and Pope Francis discussed how to help people suffering in conflicts

9. February 2018 - 14:53

Vatican City, 9 February 2018 – in today’s meeting, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas and Pope Francis focused on humanitarian crises caused by acts of war and on how to find peaceful solutions to these conflicts.


“News of deadly attacks in Syria, Ukraine, and other conflict zones of the world are unfortunately still daily. It is important not to surrender, to keep searching for political solutions to conflicts and opportunities to improve people’s standard of living,” Ratas said. “In addition to our contributions to the Minsk agreements, sanctions, and the Geneva process, we must also remember the people who have lost their loved ones and are forced to flee from their homes. We as fellow men must keep our hearts open and reach out a helping hand,” he added.


Acts of war in Syria have lasted for seven years and the armed conflict that devastated Ukraine is nearing four years. Pope Francis has named the conflict in Syria the worst humanitarian disaster after the Second World War. The Ukrainian conflict has affected nearly five million people, 3.8 million of whom require humanitarian aid. There are nearly 1.6 million internally displaced persons in Ukraine.


Estonia has allocated a total of seven million euros’ worth of humanitarian aid to Syria and will contribute an additional 1.3 million euros in 2018–2019. In 2015–2017, Estonia accepted 155 refugees from Syria. Since 2014, Estonia has supported the victims of the Ukrainian conflict with more than five million euros.


The Pope has only visited Estonia once before, in 1993. During their meeting, Prime Minister Ratas confirmed to Pope Francis that the people and government of Estonia are looking forward to the visit of the Holy Father that will take place in autumn. This visit coincides with Estonia celebrating its centenary. The prime minister also expressed his gratitude over the fact that the Holy See never recognised the Soviet occupation of Estonia, neither de facto nor de jure.


Prime Minister Ratas and Pope Francis also discussed the climate and environmental protection, demographic trends, and the importance of education.


While in Vatican City, Ratas also met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. Among other topics, they discussed relations with Russia.


This morning, Ratas met with Paolo Gentiloni, his Italian colleague, in Rome. They discussed the priorities of the next long-term budget of the European Union, issues related to the elections of the European Parliament, and immigration topics. Ratas highlighted Italy’s participation in Baltic air policing and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.


Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8h1g8ks6gttdtf1/AAAdVUu3H9ihcIbn1PlPv_xNa?dl=0
Official photos of the meetings in Vatican (will be published on 9 February): http://www.photovat.com/index1.htm

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