Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine arrived in Moscow to be awarded the Patriarch Alexy II Prize.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Beatitude,
I would like to warmly welcome you to Russia.
I know that the purpose of your visit to Russia is to receive the Prize of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. Please accept my congratulations on this occasion.
Our churches have always maintained a special and benign relationship, which of course benefits the Orthodox faith, as well as the Orthodox world in general, by enhancing mutual understanding among the congregations of our countries. I would like to thank you for this.
For our part, I mean on behalf of the state, we are doing everything we can to support this process.
I would like to thank you for the caring attention you offer to Russian pilgrims in Jerusalem. They come in great masses, and we highly appreciate what you have been doing for them.
I do hope that together with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia you will persist in your efforts to promote good relations and joint efforts to make the Orthodox world stronger.
Only recently, during my visit to Hungary, I met with the heads of Middle East Christian churches. We are well aware of the hardships that Christians are facing in the Middle East, the cradle of the Christian faith. In this context, we need to join our efforts in order to protect the interests of the Christians there. Any lack of unity is always extremely damaging for the Christian world in general, including to Christians in the Middle East.
Of course, we need to treat followers of other religious denominations the same way. For the Middle East, this applies primarily to Muslim denominations, our brothers and sisters representing Islam. We maintain very close contacts with them and cooperate with them really effectively to deliver on our shared task to safeguard our common traditional values.
As you well know, I will visit Israel in mid-January next year to attend the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the unveiling of a new monument to the victims among the peoples of our country during WWII. In this specific case this will be about the victims of the Siege of Leningrad.
I believe that cooperation with Israel is also essential. Thank goodness, we have established very good relations with the Israeli leadership, as well as with the Jewish community in Russia, whose representatives serve as a bridge of sorts in our relations with Israel.
This is to say that we do have things to discuss.
It is a great pleasure to see you.
Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President for your warm welcome. (Addressing Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.) Allow me to thank you and wish you a happy birthday. (Addressing Vladimir Putin.) And thank you for offering me this opportunity to have a meeting with you, Mr President.
First of all, I would like to convey to you the blessing of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and gratitude from Christians in the Middle East who hold you in very high esteem. I would also like to thank you on my personal behalf and on behalf of our brotherhood for the interest in and the protection of our brotherhood, and for your decisive assistance that mattered a lot when it came to protecting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.