June 8, 2010

President of Ukraine Visits Mount Athos

Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Sunday, 6 June 2010, received his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych, the Greek presidential press service reported.

The two countries' leaders discussed bilateral cooperation in the Greek capital Athens, and then Yanukovych, who is in Greece on a short visit, left for Mount Athos.

Mount Athos is a self-governed autonomous monastic state within Greece. It has 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Yanukovych is an Orthodox Christian.

Greece and Ukraine established diplomatic relations in 1992. Ukraine is home to a large Greek community.

Papoulias visited Ukraine in 2008.

Yanukovych's primary aim in visiting Greece was to make his pilgrimage to Mount Athos. This is not his first visit to the Holy Mountain. In 2009 when he visited, an elder gave him as a gift a komboschoini (prayer rope), and the President told him that he will wear it on his right hand for the rest of his life (see photo above).