Readout of the President’s Audience with Pope Francis
President Salome Zourabichvili held an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis as part of her official visit to the Holy See, during which the two sides emphasized that a new phase of bilateral cooperation began with this visit and highlighted the deepening and strengthening of bilateral relations in culture, education and science. The President discussed the situation in the South Caucasus and Georgia’s role in the mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, noting that without dialogue, it is impossible to overcome conflicts and deescalate the situation. The President also spoke about the dire humanitarian situation and human rights violations in the occupied territories of Georgia, including restrictions on the freedom of movement and kidnappings, as well as the difficult situation for Georgian Orthodox churches in the occupied territories.
The President also highlighted the importance of the opening of opportunities to develop cooperation in culture and education following this official visit. She also brought up pediatric oncology and the fact that the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital expressed readiness to cooperate with Georgia on this issue. The two sides emphasized the role of small countries in addressing climate change and environmental issues and the importance of strengthening that role, as small countries do not have the clout to voice their views on global challenges alone.
The President gifted to His Holiness a manuscript of the 12th century hymn “Thou Art a Vineyard” (written by King Demetrius I) dedicated to Pope Francis, a book on Georgian culture, a book on Georgian churches in the occupied territories, a selection of Georgian wines from all around the country, and handed over a gift from His Holiness Ilia II.
Press office President of Georgia