05/24/2016, 09.42
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Lukashenko: Pope Francis and Kirill should meet in Minsk for peace in Ukraine

by Nina Achmatova

Belarussian President reveals a proposal he put to the Pope in their recent meeting in the Vatican: "spiritual initiatives" also needed to promote solution. Normandy quartet hold phone call over implementation of Minsk agreements.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The time has come for the Pope to visit Belarus together with Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, for a meeting dedicated to peace in Eastern Ukraine, where the Minsk-2 agreements have yet to be fully implemented. This was stated by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on his return from his visit last May 21 at the Vatican (see photo).

Quoted by BelITA, the head of state said: "I suggested that it was time that the Pope come to Belarus and meet our citizens together with our Patriarch. I am sure that more than one million people would like to see their handshake not far away in Cuba, in an airport, but in the center of Europe spared the cataclysm that happened in the former Soviet republics and in Eastern European countries, a result that even the Pope has recognized".

According to Lukashenko, during the meeting the Pope asked him of the situation in the region especially in light of the Ukrainian conflict. "I told him the current situation in the East of Ukraine requires new initiatives, even spiritual," he explained. He believes a meeting between Francis and Kirill could help the peace process and it would be appropriate to also invite representatives of other Churches, Ukrainian and European.

Lukashenko had already proposed to host the first and historic meeting between a Pope and a Russian Patriarch, which took place in Cuba last February.

Belarus has hosted negotiations between Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany and the OSCE which led to so-called Minsk agreements of  February 12, 2015, a kind of road map to peace in eastern Ukraine, the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists remains deadlocked. On May 23 the leaders of the so-called 'Normandy format' (France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine) spoke over the  telephone. According to the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin called for the end of the bombing on towns in Donbas (eastern regions) and stressed the need for direct dialogue between Kiev and representatives of Donetsk and Lugansk and the full implementation of the peace agreements.

While the ceasefire is generally holding (starting point of the road map), with periodic outbreaks, politically the situation is one of stalemate: Ukraine insists on the immediate restoration of full control over the state border with Russia, which instead is not expected before the adoption of a law on self-government, an amnesty, constitutional review and a new electoral law that will lead to a vote in the separatist provinces.

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