Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to congratulate you and all Orthodox Christians on yesterday’s holiday, the Feast of the Protective Veil. It is a great celebration for Orthodox Christians and I want to wish you the very best.
I know that you visited Estonia recently. And you are aware, as I informed you, that we are acting through the Foreign Ministry to try to protect the interests of the Russian Orthodox Church in many countries, including in Estonia. At the end of the month I myself had a brief meeting with the Estonian President and he talked about this matter. He also told me about your planned visit.
Russia has been invited as a guest to a summit of the leaders of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference countries. I know that you and the Russian Orthodox Church support our initiative to deepen relations with this organisation. I would like to thank you for this support, and I would also like to say that in this I see a sign that Russia’s traditional religions are continuing this good Russian tradition of support for each other. This, of course, cannot but have a positive impact on peace, consensus and cooperation between Russia’s different peoples and their different faiths.
I am very pleased that our leading religion, the Russian Orthodox Church, has taken this stand. And I am also sure that this will be appreciated by our citizens, above all, of course, by our Muslim citizens. They number almost 20 million, and it is their right to feel a part of the entire Islamic world. This will help us to better understand what is happening in this Islamic world. And it will enable us to create a channel for communication between our Muslim population and authoritative international Muslim organisations.
I really am very pleased to see that the Russian Orthodox Church has shown such understanding, and I am very grateful to you for this.
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Vladimir Putin (after the Patriarch’s words):
We are not claiming any particular role for ourselves. We have been invited as a guest. Overall, we hope to be given the status of observer. I think this is a correct decision, because, as I said, we are creating a channel of communication between Russian Muslims and international organisations, and we will do everything we can to help this process.
You know, Your Holiness, that when I was in New York, I met with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and I passed on your message. They in turn asked me to pass on their letter to you, which it now gives me pleasure to do. And I can tell you in more detail about the discussion I had with them. I think it was quite positive. At least, I had the impression that there is a growing awareness of the changes in the world, a deep realisation.