President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, Ms Mayor [of Bethlehem] Vera Baboun, Mr Bandak, friends,
It is a great pleasure to take part, together with President of Palestine Mr Abbas, in the official opening of this multifunctional centre, built by Russia in Bethlehem. Your city now has a modern centre, complete with the latest equipment, and with a music school, sports school, and a business centre.
This gives Palestine’s young people a new opportunity to develop their talents and abilities, learn more about Russian history, culture, and musical traditions, and train in wrestling and other sports.
The centre’s opening is a notable milestone in developing mutually advantageous relations between Russia and Palestine and is evidence of the genuine friendship between our peoples and countries.
Our cooperation goes back a long way. In the 19th century and early 20th century, Russia built dozens of schools and hospitals in Palestine. Thousands of Palestinians studied in the Soviet Union and Russia to become doctors, teachers and specialists in other fields, and serve their people honourably. Russia today allocates more than 100 state scholarships for students from Palestine every year.
I would like to note that a Russian science and culture centre has been successfully running in Bethlehem for several years now, as has a comprehensive Russian-Palestinian friendship school, where teaching is in the Russian language. In this sense, the newly opened centre will form another prominent part of the ‘Russian neighbourhood’.
We are grateful to Palestine’s government and to Mr Abbas for the support he has given these projects.
I would like once again to congratulate you on the centre’s opening and from all my heart wish the residents of Bethlehem and all Palestinians peace and prosperity.
Thank you for your attention.
Mahmoud Abbas (retranslated): Mr President, my friend,
First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to you, to the Russian Government and the friendly Russian people for your position and your consistent support for Palestinians and the Palestinian problem.
Also, I would like to thank you for this multifunctional complex, which has been built on your instructions. It is a great joy for us. We are grateful to you for making this present to Bethlehem and to the Palestinian people and for supporting the development of our cooperation in many spheres, including the economy, sport and culture.
Seeking to express my personal gratitude and the gratitude of the Palestinian people, we have decided to establish a governing body for this centre. The centre will be called the Vladimir Putin Association for the Development of Business and Cultural Cooperation in Palestine. As you know, we have decided to allocate a land plot for this centre on the street that bears your name, Vladimir Putin Street, which we opened during your previous visit to Bethlehem in 2012. In this context, we have resolved to create a governing body that will be comprised of top professionals who will be responsible for running this centre.
The opening of this centre is a great pride for us. We see it as a symbol of the further development and strengthening of bilateral relations in many areas. It will take its rightful place among the projects we have implemented. I am referring above all to the Russian School, the Russian Culture Centre in Bethlehem and the Russian Museum and Park Complex in Jericho. I would also like to say that the Russian Government has decided to finance the renovation of the historical centre of Star Street, which leads to the square adjacent to the Church of the Nativity.
In conclusion, I would like to thank everyone who helped us implement this project, primarily the Presidential Executive Office, the Russian company that implemented this project, the Russian Embassy and representative office in Palestine, as well as all Palestinians who helped us.
Mr President, thank you.