Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (11 May) prior to his departure for Rome and the Vatican:
With his trip to Iraq, Pope Francis showed recently in an impressive manner what impact the Church can still have as a diplomatic global player for reconciliation and peace. This commitment is all the more important at a time that, though challenging us all, is hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. The pandemic is opening up new divides and exacerbating social tensions. My talks will therefore also focus on how we can coordinate our humanitarian commitment with a view to de-escalating conflicts and helping to bring about solutions.
I visited Rome about one year ago – just after the first wave of the pandemic had so cruelly raged there. Now that we are gradually seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I believe that this visit sends an important signal, namely that we are going through this crisis together. And, as Europe, we will emerge from it not weaker, but stronger. This is also true of foreign policy, where Italy has a key role to play on important issues, such as our efforts to achieve peace in Libya, and also as far as displacement and refugee movements are concerned. I am glad that we can always coordinate our responses very closely with Luigi di Maio on these and other matters.