President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Your Excellency Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia,
Your Excellency Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II,
Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
First of all, I am very grateful to the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Nations for presenting me with such a prestigious award. I see it as an acknowledgement of Russia’s important role in developing dialogue in the Orthodox world.
In the ten years since the inception of this prize, its winners have been people who have done a great deal to develop ties between peoples and states that adhere to the Eastern Christian traditions and to adopt humanitarian Christian values in their lives.
We are bound by one faith and by the same moral and ethical principles. They are at the foundation of our national identity and distinctive character of our peoples. They are expressed in our cultures and our traditions, which are often similar between nations and have common spiritual roots. They are expressed in our historical way of life, and ultimately, in our fates. They are embodied in our common shrines and relics.
The history of our peoples, which spans over centuries, has many examples of mutual support and solidarity. There were times in the history of the Orthodox peoples when others tried to pit us against one another, but ultimately, all of them were unsuccessful; indeed, there are even some recent examples of this.
I am certain that this will also be true in the future. The spiritual and cultural values that we share are capable of bringing nations and people closer together.
Orthodox churches traditionally play an important role in strengthening such brotherly relations. I would like to take this opportunity to note the great input made by the Russian Orthodox Church in developing interfaith dialogue.
Having re-established canonical unity, it set an unprecedented example in overcoming distrust and disunity, demonstrating the spirit of collegiality and showing a very powerful, unifying beginning.
This serves as an important signal not only to people adhering to the Orthodox Church, but to the rest of the world as well. It is a signal that no obstacle is too great to overcome when a church, a state, or a group of nations and communities have a common goal: a desire for unity. This example is also good in today’s complicated economic and social climate, prevailing across the globe.
In the last two decades, our government and the Orthodox Church have had some very fruitful experience in working together to resolve key problems in our nation. First of all, these are problems related to educating our youth, preserving our nation’s traditions, preserving our culture, strengthening peace in our communities, improving harmony in our nation, and ultimately, increasing the security of life in our country. Much of this is due to the direct efforts of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
I would also like to say a few words about the social and charitable projects that the Foundation is working on. I think that all of its projects benefit our nation and the people living in Russia. This consolidates the Orthodox community which is becoming increasing active in the spiritual and cultural sphere, and ultimately serves to help improve good relations with our neighbours – nations that share our faith. Examples of this include the decisions that were made in regard to Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and other award winners who are present here today, including the outstanding film director Emir Kusturica. We met recently when I was in Serbia and it is a real pleasure to see you again on such a wonderful occasion.
Friends, the Orthodox world is an enormous civilization and community that has made a unique input into the development of mankind. It is also important that today, we are ready to demonstrate unity and engage in very wide-reaching dialogue – including interfaith dialogue. It is especially important for us to understand one another within our nation, regardless of our faiths, and to work together in the name of prosperity and well-being for our peoples.
I hope that all of us will be successful in this work and on this path – this is very important for our nations: for Russia, for other countries, and for all of our peoples.
I also want to let you know that I plan to donate the monetary portion of my award to the reconstruction of the New Jerusalem Resurrection Monastery. His Holiness and I have been working together on this enormous national project. I would also like to support several boarding schools. Thus, I hope that together, we will be able to resolve these large-scale problems.
I would like to once again thank you for this award.