Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Your Holiness! Distinguished members of the Board of Trustees!
I would like to welcome everyone to the first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Restoring the New Jerusalem Monastery.
Because our joint work is just beginning I think that, in addition to focusing on the general organisation of the Foundation and the Board, it makes sense to discuss a specific action plan.
Before we begin, I would of course like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has responded to the idea of restoring the monastery. And I believe that in this situation, with regard to the reconstruction of the New Jerusalem Voskresensky Monastery, that the state and business interests should give all-round support to the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church, since this is a very large and important project. This is why the Archbishop and I offered to join the Foundation and why the Board of Trustees is made up of a number of government ministers, as well as representatives of regional authorities and our other colleagues — bankers, industrialists and entrepreneurs —who can provide important support for this project.
His Holiness and I would like to ask Viktor Alexeevich Zubkov to lead the Foundation and to guide the work of the Board. Do you have any objections, Your Holiness?
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II: No.
Dmitry Medvedev: Good, let's carry on.
I absolutely agree with what His Holiness said, that there is nothing to compare with the New Jerusalem Monastery, with Russian Palestine as it's sometimes called, and that this sort of monument has enormous historical and cultural importance. He is right to point out that this is a special place, no doubt first and foremost because this is the only place where the attempt to accurately recreate the image of the Holy Land was successful.
In restoring such centres, we are helping to revive our roots and the moral values of our people, and without these we cannot resolve any of the major problems that our country faces today.
I should note that the New Jerusalem was originally conceived as the heart of the Orthodox world and a major education site. It also became famous for its publishing activities, and its rich library helped in the creation of many works of national literature and laid the foundations for our musical and cultural traditions. Today, the monastery continues to fulfill its educational and social mission: it has already opened a Sunday school and has plans to start up a school.
In addition, the monastery is home to one of the largest museums in the Moscow region. In short, the monastery's current resources are not sufficient for the enormous role that it has to play.
But perhaps the most important thing to focus on is the fact that the monuments are falling apart before our very eyes and need to be completely renovated. The first thing that needs to be done is to carry out emergency repairs on these crumbling buildings. We need to bear in mind that this monument has lasted for three and a half centuries. Unfortunately its history contains some very sad pages: it suffered from considerable devastation before it was reconstructed after the war. But after that nothing but the usual maintenance and cosmetic repairs have been done. His Holiness and I were there in the summer. Of course, the unique temples of this monument produce an extraordinary impression, but they are in very, very poor condition, despite all their grandeur.
Second, it's important to note that the monastery has its own design, engineering and landscaping particularities that were part of the project from the beginning, and its architecture is the product of a number of different eras and styles. This means that special scientifically justified approaches to the restoration work are required, along with the participation of the scientific, cultural and museum communities.This could also be a definite help.
Third, I want to emphasise that in addition to the Voskresensky Cathedral, the whole complex of the New Jerusalem Monastery needs renovation. We decided on this from the outset, because otherwise we would be left with only a partial rather than a complete renovation. We have to plan for the redevelopment of the land around the monastery and work at reorganising the natural monuments that are there now.
Special efforts need to be made, including with the help of international groups, to find objects of cultural value lost during the Great Patriotic War. They are an integral part of the monastery complex and they should not be forgotten.
Fourth, we need to construct new buildings to house the new museum and to enhance the spiritual and educational activities of the monastery. This was also discussed during our visit to the New Jerusalem Monastery.
Fifth, there is a reason that such a large number of us are meeting together here: this work will require significant financial resources and a portion of these funds should come from charitable donations. The project will need a lot of help from our business community. And the task of the Board of Trustees is to coordinate this support, to coordinate the efforts of those who sincerely wish to help the New Jerusalem Monastery.
And, finally, the last point: in addition to the issue of costs that we have to discuss, we should identify the approximate dates for the restoration of the monastery. This cannot be a quick process if we want to do a good job. We have discussed this issue, and I think that maybe the time to aim for is somewhere between five and seven years, because it cannot be done quickly. But we obviously don't want to let it drag out longer than necessary. This means that the Foundation and the Board of Trustees will have to monitor progress and set deadlines. I hope that we can work together to rebuild this monastery and face up to this great challenge for our country.