Vatican’s Top Diplomat Postpones Visit To Armenia


Agence France Presse
March 2, 2008 Sunday

Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone postponed Sunday a visit
to Armenia in view of the state of emergency declared in Yerevan
after deadly clashes, the Holy See said in a statement.

"In consideration of the situation in Armenia following the protests
and the state of emergency declared by the government, His Eminence
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone … will not leave today as planned for
Yerevan," the Vatican communique said.

"The visit has not been cancelled and may take place in the coming
days with an altered programme," it said, adding however that Cardinal
Bertone’s planned four-day visit to Azerbaijan would go ahead from

Armenian authorities imposed a state of emergency in their capital
late Saturday after eight people were killed during violent protests
against the alleged rigging of a February 19 presidential election.

The state of emergency will be in effect until March 20, under a
decree signed by President Robert Kocharian.

The Vatican number two had planned to leave Sunday for Yerevan, where
he was to meet with Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos
of All Armenians as well as Armenian government leaders.

In Azerbaijan, the Vatican’s top diplomat plans to meet Sheikh
Allashukur Pashazade, head of Muslims in the Caucasus, and other
religious leaders.

Bertone returned last Thursday from a high-profile trip to Cuba, where
he met with the Caribbean island nation’s new president, Raul Castro.

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