Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Rome for a series of institutional appointments with Italian officials, including President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Pope. The meetings covered topics such as international initiatives to facilitate the export of grain and agricultural products and the importance of respecting and renewing the Black Sea Grain Agreement. Italian officials reiterated their support for Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and their commitment to providing the necessary support for a just peace in Ukraine.
On May 13, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Italy for an official visit, which included meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The visit aimed to strengthen the political, economic, and cultural ties between the two countries.
Zelensky’s plane landed at Ciampino Airport at 10 am, where he was received by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Yaroslav Melnyk, Kiev’s ambassador to Rome, and Pier Francesco Zazo, the Italian ambassador to Ukraine. After changing his attire from a green military sweater to a black uniform, Zelensky proceeded to Quirinale Palace, where he was welcomed by President Mattarella, with the ceremony featuring the performance of the national anthems by the Italian Navy Band.
During their private meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, Mattarella expressed his pleasure in receiving Zelensky and reiterated Italy’s full support for Ukraine, highlighting the common values shared between the two countries. Zelensky also thanked Italy for its continuous support at all levels, including with the recent governments of Draghi and Meloni.
Zelensky later met with Prime Minister Meloni for an hour and ten minutes. During their meeting, they discussed international initiatives to facilitate the export of grain and agricultural products, including the renewal of the Black Sea grain agreement. Meloni reiterated Italy’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and its allies in finding a just peace for the country, stating that Italy will continue to provide necessary support, including military, to achieve that goal.
The meeting was followed by a working lunch attended by Italian Foreign Minister Tajani, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, Deputy Chief of Staff Giovanbattista Fazzolari, and diplomatic adviser Francesco Maria Talò. The two leaders also reviewed a guard of honor made up of the Granatieri di Sardegna Brigade and the Lancieri di Montebello.
The visit was a significant step in strengthening the bilateral relations between Italy and Ukraine. Italy has been a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and continues to play an essential role in facilitating the country’s political and economic development. The visit also highlights the importance of promoting regional cooperation and addressing the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine.
The meeting between Zelensky and the Pope, the last institutional appointment of the day for the Ukrainian president, was held in the study of the Paul VI Audience Hall, and not in the Apostolic Palace. Only the two of them and an interpreter, the Ukrainian Franciscan Marek Viktor Gongalo, were present in the room. This is the second meeting between the Pope and Zelensky, after the one that took place in the Vatican on February 8, 2020, just days before the outbreak of the war with Russia. “Thank you for this visit,” said the Pope, welcoming the Ukrainian president. “It’s a great honor,” replied Zelensky. At the end of the conversation, which lasted about 40 minutes, the Pontiff received as a gift from the Ukrainian president an icon of the Madonna made from the remains of bulletproof vests. For his part, the Pope gave his guest a copper sculpture depicting olive branches, a symbol of peace.