Merkel gets warm welcome on farewell visit to Rome

Outgoing German chancellor meets pope and Draghi

07 October, 17:52

    Angela Merkel in visita a Roma Angela Merkel in visita a Roma

    ROME - Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel got a warm reception from Pope Francis and Premier Mario Draghi on her farewell visit to Rome on Thursday.

    Draghi thanked the long-time German leader for playing a decisive role in shaping the EU's future.

    "I thank the chancellor on behalf of the government and myself personally for the decisive role she has had in designing the future of Europe in these years," he said at a joint press conference after talks at the premier's office in Rome.

    Draghi said the German leader, who is leaving the helm of Germany after 16 years in charge and is paying a 'farewell' visit to Rome, had always "supported the independence of the ECB" and said he was "grateful" for the exchanges they had had over the years.

    Merkel said "we must also work on the future investments to be made, starting from the COVID crisis and we must go on with EU work.

    "We must work together, also on Libya where Italy is very involved.

    "This is the time for collaboration".

    Merkel said "also when he was at the central bank we collaborated and Draghi was a guarantor for the euro".

    She said "my love for Italy will continue, I will make a trip to Rome, I will return to Italy in other guises".

    Draghi also told the press conference "we agreed on the fact that Italy and Germany must more greatly coordinate their positions on the management of environmental and energy dossiers, above all as far as the impact of these policies on our businesses is concerned".

    Draghi added that he was sure the National Recovery and Resilience Plan would succeed in stoking robust growth, calling it an "extraordinary chance", and said the NRRP was also an extraordinary opportunity to renew Italy in multiple fields and make up gaps on other countries.

    Merkel said she was sure that the 191 billion euros of EU cash would be spent well, calling Draghi's plan "excellent".

    She also voiced optimism that German government-formation talks would be quick.

    Earlier, after a private audience with Pope Francis, Merkel said that it had been an honour to see him again and they had discussed the political challenges facing the EU, as well as the Catholic Church's welcome contribution to the fight against the climate crisis.

    "It was a great honour and a joy to meet Pope Franics in a private audience, whom I will see again this afternoon at Sant-Egidio," she said, referring to the noted Catholic charity and conflict-solving group.

    "We spoke about the problems of the Church but also about political challenges, such as those of the European Union, after the pope recently visited eastern Europe".

    She said they also discussed the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow and stressed "the Paris accord has been very important, and it is encouraging that in the Catholic Church, too, there is this theme of the conservation of Creation".

    The Holy See said the two leaders had discussed "the multiple ongoing crises with particular reference to the consequences of the health emergency and migrations".

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