Lukashenko says his initiative on Pope, Patriarch meeting is not politicized

Soligorsk, May 8, Interfax - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied that there are political connotations in his initiative to organize a meeting between the Orthodox Patriarch and the Pope.

"What politics is here?" Lukashenko told journalists within the framework of his working trip over the Minsk region on Friday.

Speaking about his initiative to organize a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill, Lukashenko said: "Blind is a person who cannot see the reality. And the reality is that Belarus has the second highest number of Catholics in the post-Soviet space after Latvia."

"Catholics are our people, and I did everything I promised to them. They consider me as their President," he said. "As to Orthodoxies, I regularly meet with the Synod and the Patriarch," the President added.

"Time will come when they [the heads of the Churches] will meet. But today there are problems about which Orthodoxies and Catholics know. If they [the churches leaders] are ready to meet, Belarus will offer its services, because cultures and religions come in contact here," Lukashenko said.

There is nothing bad about the Catholic Church assisting the normalization of Belarusian relations with the West, he said. "Thanks a lot for the help of the pope and [Vatican Secretary of State] Cardinal [Tarcisio] Bertone to fine tune Belarusian relations with the West. What is bad about his?" Lukashenko said.

Allegations by some media that Belarus normalizes relations with the West at the expense of relations with Russia are ungrounded, the President added.



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