Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, esteemed colleagues,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Moscow.
Our consultations in Moscow have become regular now and we meet every year. I must say that this has brought positive results, both economic and political. It’s enough to remember that at the beginning of the 1990s our relations were virtually non-existent. Our trade turnover came to only $12 million. Now it is over $1 billion, and that is not the only result we can count.
We have restored relations with the Russian diaspora in Israel. I have said in the past, and I will say again now just how attentively we are watching how our former compatriots in Israel are building their lives there. And, of course, given how the situation in the Middle East has flared up, we do feel a certain amount of concern about their future. It is partly for this reason that we intend to continue to take an active part – insofar as is possible for us – in regulating the situation in the Middle East.
We are very pleased to see you here, Mr Prime Minister.
Mr Prime Minister, I think that we will have a chance to talk in more detail about the situation in the Middle East. We know that Israel strives for peace. The Jewish people have suffered a great deal over the last decades.
You mentioned Russia’s Jewish community and I spoke of our citizens in Israel, people from the former Soviet Union. We know about the processes going on in these groups, and not just by hearsay, because this is part of our own lives. In this connection, we have decided, following consultations with members of the Jewish community, to open an exhibition on the Holocaust at the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War. This will coincide with the sixtieth Victory anniversary. When I was in Israel I met with veterans of the Great Patriotic War, and I think that they will be pleased to learn of this initiative.
We also support the initiative of a group of our scholars who propose devoting a part of the exhibition space at the Ethnographic Museum in St Petersburg to the life and history of the Jewish people. There was such an exhibition earlier but it was closed. The scholars think it should be restored and we will help with this.
When I was in Israel I visited museums there. The museums dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust left a particularly strong impression on me. It would be useful for our specialists to establish contacts with their colleagues in Israel. In this respect, I would like to ask for your political support for this.