February 18, 2011.
This is the second time that Russian President Dmitri Medvedev has visited Benedict XVI. A meeting that the Pope has called “very important,” immediately after receiving the president in the doorway to his library. They spoke privately for about 35 minutes, more than usual for such State visits. They recognized their partnership in promoting human and Christian values as well as the importance of interreligious dialogue. They also exchanged views on the current situation of the Middle East.
It was their first meeting after the opening of full diplomatic relations between Russia and the Holy See, which until recently had only permanent representatives.Benedicto XVI“It's an important step”.
The Russian president gave the Pope an “Orthodox Encyclopedia” and two volumes of letters from his predecessor Boris Yeltsin to other heads of State, including Pope John Paul II. The Pope enjoyed the books because he said he would like to learn Russian and read them.
In return Benedict XVI gave the president an elegant medallion of St. Peter's Basilica as well as several rosaries to his staff.
The Russian president was accompanied by his wife Svetlana, Vice President Alexander Zhukov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
After their first meeting in December of 2009, the Vatican and Russia announced the establishment of full diplomatic relations.
There was an increase of warmth between the two which may open the chance for a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow, possibly in neutral territory.
Medvedev is the fourth Russian president to visit the Pope. A gesture that for so many years seemed almost impossible.
The first Russian president who entered the Vatican was the then Soviet Union President, Mikhail Gorbachev. On December 1, 1989, just days after the fall of the Berlin Wall.