President Vladimir Putin: I congratulate you with all my heart and wish you all the very best, good health, and success.
Allow me, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, to present you with this painting. I think it is very kind and, most importantly, beautiful.
Allow me to express my most sincere respect and gratitude for everything that you and the Russian Orthodox Church are doing for inter-faith harmony and for our country’s spiritual revival.
I know that the Church has its problems, and that the Church faced particularly hard times in the first years of the revival when it emerged from the ruins. It was not easy for Orthodox believers either.
I shall never forget our conversations about this, when you repeatedly returned to the situation of ordinary citizens of our country, parishioners of the Russian Orthodox Church, and other believers. The Church, like no other organisation, feels this, as it is probably closer to people, works with people and gives them hope. This emphasis on moral support is very important for Russian citizens.
I would like to thank you once again for everything that you are doing inside the country and at the international arena. This is very important for us. This consolidates and makes the efforts of our country, our nation at the international arena, more effective and increases its authority.
I congratulate you and wish you all the very best.
Alexii II: I would like to thank you sincerely for the warm words you said about the Russian Orthodox Church. Indeed, the 15 years that have passed have not been easy, because it is difficult to revive something that has been destroyed.
But we found common goals with the state and society. You were quite right to say that the Church is separated from the state, but not the people. It is not separated from the people, whose heartbeat we feel not only in our country but also overseas. Many Russians, Ukrainians and Belarussians living in different countries today ask us for assistance in opening parishes. People living overseas in new environment feel their connection with the homeland in parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is why the number of our parishes is increasing. We are opening them on demand inside the country and also overseas.
Naturally, national inter-ethnic and inter-confessional peace, solutions to social problems and the preservation of the monuments that remain and which we have to hand down to future generations are our common tasks. And I thank you for the state’s cooperation and support. I thank you for the great deal you have done to crystallise the relations between religious organisations – I am not talking about the Russian Orthodox Church – but in general between religious organisations and the state. We are partners who should cooperate, helping and supporting each other, in accomplishing common objectives.
We have common objectives that we shall accomplish. This was the case and will be.
Vladimir Putin: Thanks you very much for these words, and I would like to say that the number of parishes have indeed increased significantly. More and more churches are being built, and Russian Orthodox, Jewish, and Muslim houses of worship are undergoing a revival. Work is well under way and becoming increasingly fundamental. But, naturally, we understand that the state still owes a debt to religious organisations, associations and churches. I would like to assure you that we shall act further in this area, assisting and supporting our religious organisations in their work with people.
Alexii II: Thank you for your assistance, support and understanding of those tasks that stand before us. These are common tasks because the good of the state means the good of our people.