Vladimir Putin: Before we begin the awards ceremony please allow me to say a few words regarding one of today's events, returning the Sarospatak library to Hungary.
I completely agree with Mr Prime Minister that the destiny of these rare books that are now being returned to the Hungarian Republic reflect the really tragic history of the Second World War.
Practically all European nations, including Hungary and Russia incurred enormous and sometimes irreplaceable losses. Russia lost a significant part of its cultural and national heritage. These were irreplaceable, enormous losses. I say this now because I want to emphasize the fact that the Russian people understand and can relate to the feelings of Hungarians who lost the unique Sarospatak library during the war.
By taking the decision to return this collection to Hungary, of course we recognize that it belongs to a religious community and is part of the cultural heritage of all Hungarian people. And I am very pleased to see representatives of a very wide range of Hungary's religious communities here. I was very glad to hear that Hungary remembers the governor of the city Captain Petr Petrovich Egorov who was ordered to protect the library and therefore managed to prevent it being destroyed.
Returning this collection was made possible thanks to the radical change in the political climate and the increase in trust between our countries. And of course the fruitful tradition of our continuous cultural and educational ties which, as a matter of fact, was never interrupted. In simpler terms I am very glad that these treasures, these spiritual treasures, have finally returned to where they should be, with their authentic true owners, the Hungarian church and the Hungarian people.
Now I would like to say a word of thanks to the representatives of Hungarian science and culture whose contribution towards developing relations with Russia we value very highly. And it is particularly pleasant for me to be able to award them with Pushkin medals today.
I would like to congratulate you and thank you for your unique contribution to so-called cultural diplomacy and to developing relations between our countries.