Vladimir Putin: I am glad to greet you in the Kremlin.
As you know, the Government and the head of state have lately been paying special attention to civil inter-faith peace in Russia to promote friendship and understanding between ethnic entities and religious communities.
Russia will not survive unless we put insurmountable obstacles in the way of all kinds of xenophobia, and ethnic and religious extremism. That is one of the main challenges in our multi-denominational and multi-ethnic country. Of this I am deeply convinced.
As I have repeatedly said in my public addresses, Russia is a unique land, in a sense—it is a country where Christianity, Judaism and Islam have harmoniously coexisted for centuries. Their alloy is an inalienable part of European culture and the basis of the multi-ethnic Russian nation’s strength.
In this connection, I want to point out the Jewish people’s contribution to the development of this country. I don’t want to sound commonplace, so I shall not mention things everyone knows—the contribution of particular ethnic entities to Russian literature and multi-ethnic Russian culture. I want to highlight recent events—some initiatives from the Jewish community in our extremely sensitive foreign political moves and plans. These are positive initiatives—suffice it to mention an appeal to your colleagues in the United States to abolish the Jackson-Vanik amendment in respect of trade with Russia. We know the process is making headway, and I thank you for it. While in the United States, I had very encouraging meetings with Congressmen representing relevant public organisations. We had a good, serious conversation. We regard the policy of certain Jewish public organisations in the United States as continuing that conversation. In particular, we paid attention to a letter from one of those organisations to the US Administration. It was the American Jewish Congress, if I am not mistaken. The message called to shift a part of US petroleum economic interests from some long-established energy exporters to Russia. I think it was a correct initiative, and I hope it will be echoed in my meetings with the US President in May.
That is all I intended to say in the beginning. I congratulate you, and all Jews in Russia, on the approaching Pesach. The word means “Passover”, and I hope we shall pass over all our problems.