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Tony Blair controversial guest of honour at the Meeting Rimini 2009

Every year in Rimini there’s a huge and interesting conference, run by the Catholic organisation Comunion & Liberation, which attracts international coverage and thousands of visitors.

This year’s theme is ‘Knowledge is always an event’, and has attracted a number of high profile speakers including several members of the Italian government (including Minister for foreign affairs Frattini, and Minister for equal opportunities Carfagna), leading business people (for example Google Italia’s country manager Massimiliano Magrini, and the C.E.O. of Nestle Italia Manuel Andrès amongst others).

The undoubted star of the show will be the UK’s former prime-minister Tony Blair, perhaps the most famous convert to Catholicism in recent years. Mr Blair has been invited to address the meeting on Thursday August 27th at 5.00pm in his capacity as head of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation on the theme of ‘Person, Comunity and State’.

His appearance is bound to lead to some controversy. Opposition to the Iraq war was/is strong in Italy and not least of all in Catholic circles. Tony Blair is widely percieved to have played a fundamental role in paving the way for the war. At the same time his public support of gay partnership rights has been controversial.

Last but not least, there’s the discussion of how much Blair will be paid for his appearance in Rimini. Local papers have suggested a fee of around 220,000 euro, though there has been no official confirmation of this. Nice work if you can get it!

Regardless of the controversy, Blair’s appearance will no-doubt be newsworthy – along with the rest of this world-class event.

The Rimini meeting runs from August 23 – August 29th in Rimini’s Fiera. Admission to most events is free. There are a number of special shows, concerts and events organised around the Meeting – we’ll be publishing details throughout August.

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