Serbia-Montenegro Leader Invites Pope to Visit Federation

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2003 ( The president of Serbia and Montenegro invited John Paul II to visit his federation, and asked his support to accelerate the integration of the two Balkan republics in the European Union.

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President Svetozar Marovic, who met today with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano following an audience with the Pope, confirmed his invitation to John Paul II during a press conference.

The president highlighted for journalists the importance of ecumenical dialogue for the future of Europe, a conclusion also reached over the past year during meetings between delegations of the Vatican and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Marovic has headed the union of the two states since March, a union that was sanctioned a month earlier, in keeping with the March 2002 agreements that put a halt to Montenegro’s secessionist aspirations.

The new federation of Serbia and Montenegro, with 10.5 million inhabitants, has replaced the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which arose after the dissolution of the federation with the independence of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

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