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Minister Podgoršek concluding a visit to Rome and Vatican

As part of Slovenian delegation, the Minister Dr Jože Podgoršek visited the Republic of Italy and the Vatican City State on Thursday and Friday. The visit to Rome included the Minister’s activities and meetings with the leading representatives of the World Food Programme of the United Nations (UN) and of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies of the Republic of Italy. On Friday, the Minister Dr Podgoršek heard Holy Mass for the Fatherland, attended the Audience with the Holy Father, and met with the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson. On conclusion of visit of the Slovenian delegation, a ceremony of lighting candles on a pine tree presented by Slovenia took place in the St. Peter’s Square.

Minister Dr Jože Podgoršek started his 2-day Italy and Vatican visit in Rome by visiting the World Food Programme (WFP) of the UN where, jointly with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Anže Logar, he met with the Executive Director, David Beasley. In the discourse, the significance of a strategic approach to ensuring global food security was exposed among other things. The WFP is focusing on decreasing world hunger and on providing sufficient food quantities for the world population. The Nobel Prize, awarded this year to the WFP for endeavours in the fight against hunger, thus conveys a most significant message to all the countries around the world that food security is more and more ranging among the priorities of each country, and even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the Minister Dr Podgoršek and Slovenian delegation attended Holy Mass for the Fatherland in the St. Peter’s Basilica. There followed the Audience with the Holy Father, who thanked Slovenia for putting up and decorating the Christmas Pine Tree in the St. Peter’s Square, and the trees in the Vatican offices.

In continuation of the visit, the Minister met with the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson. In the discourse, they exchanged views on the significance of global action in ensuring food security and safety. Minister Podgoršek explicitly pointed out the significance of fair relations in the food supply chain. He further pointed out that, during its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Slovenia would hold at least two important topics in the food sector – sustainable food production and fair relations in the food supply chain. Cardinal Turkson pointed out that during the Covid-19 pandemic the Dicastery held five priority fields of action, one thereof being the provision of sufficient quantities of safe food. The Cardinal was interested in Slovenia’s views as to the resolution of problems in the field of hunger prevention in the world. Cardinal Turkson proposed that jointly with Slovenia an international videoconference on the topic of nutrition in the world, linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, could be organised.

In the afternoon, the Minister Dr Podgoršek met with the Italian Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Ms Teresa Bellanova. The Ministers exposed the significance of the continued good cooperation between the countries, in particular in the field of food supply which, during the Covid-19 pandemic, is in many places of extreme importance, and put to the test. At the meeting, they discussed the transborder protection of designation of origin (PDO) of the Teran / Terrano wine, which may constitute an opportunity of developing the Karst Region, of improved promotion of wine growers and wine producers in this region, and of promotion and reputation of the Teran / Terrano wine in the European Area. The ministers further talked about the Prosecco, the Italian protected designation of origin (PDO) of the wine grown in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Veneto Regions. In discussion, they addressed the Italian incentive concerning the labelling of nutritional value on the front of the packaging, to be dealt with by the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels. The Minister invited the Italian Colleague to visit Slovenia, or to meet in a border area with several common topics shared between the two countries, as soon as health situation so permits, what was gladly corroborated by the Italian Minister.

In the late afternoon, the Minister attended the festive candle lighting on the Christmas Tree and accompanying cultural programme in the St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Slovenia is presenting the Christmas Tree at the 30th Anniversary of the Plebiscite on the Sovereignty and Independence, and on the threshold of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021. Through this gesture, Slovenia wishes to send out to the world a message of our forests and excellent forest management. The Slovenian Christmas Tree from the Kočevje Region Forests holds the internationally acknowledged FSC Sustainable Forest Management Certificate, thus constituting a symbol of excellence of Slovenian forests and forestry. Tree decorations are handmade of wood and natural materials, depicting symbols of Slovenian ethnological heritage.