Address at the opening of Russian Centre for Science and Culture 2012-06-26 17:00:00 Bethlehem President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President Abbas, ladies and gentlemen, friends, We have gathered today in Bethlehem, the city of Jesus Christ, a place that is famous and revered throughout the world, to open the Russian Centre for Science and Culture. I see in this a deep continuity of the centuries-old traditions that have always linked Russia and the Holy Land. It is also clear evidence of the special nature of relations between Russia and Palestine. I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the President of the Palestinian National Authority, our great friend Mr Mahmoud Abbas, for his role in transferring this land plot into Russia’s ownership. It is a visible manifestation of our friendship and close relations. I am convinced that the centre’s establishment and its activities will make a solid contribution to the development of humanitarian cooperation. I am confident that many young people, artists, cultural and public figures will become involved in these activities which will certainly expand the horizons of our cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. It is from such initiatives and projects that the living fabric of our relationship is woven. The museum and park complex in Jericho has opened this year, although it has been operating in a test mode so far. An agreement was signed today that will path the way for this unique museum to start operating to its full potential. I would like to note that each year about 200 Palestinian students come to Russian universities, where they obtain qualifications that are most in demand for the development of Palestine, its economy and social sphere, and for strengthening its security. This is our additional contribution to the successful and peaceful future for the Palestinian nation. Currently we are considering building a comprehensive school in Bethlehem, as I told Mr President earlier today. Russian will be taught as the first foreign language at the school. Russia is ready to contribute a modest sum to this project that would be sufficient to implement it: $1.5 million. I think this school will be popular among students and teachers, especially since approximately 1,500 Russian citizens reside in Palestine. Last autumn, Russia successfully hosted the Days of Palestinian Culture, and now the Days of Russian Culture are being held in Palestine. The new centre is facing many challenges. Its primary task is to promote the Russian language, implement education programmes, and conduct various forums, presentations and educational events. The centre’s doors will always be open to friends and partners, and to everyone who is interested in Russia, its history and the life of our multiethnic nation, as well as to those who want to contribute to the development of friendly relations between Palestine and Russia. In conclusion, I would like to once again thank President Abbas and all our Palestinian friends for their support of this project and wish the centre successful and fruitful work. I declare the Russian Centre for Science and Culture open.