President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon!
I would like to express my gratitude to all participants of this meeting for the opportunity to discuss issues that are important for the citizens of Azerbaijan and the citizens of the Russian Federation.
This kind of meeting is a confirmation of the positive nature of interfaith relations in Azerbaijan. We met and discussed this matter some time ago, and of course I would like particularly to emphasise that we appreciate the role that you are all playing in bringing together different people, regardless of their nationality or religion.
Some time ago we had a chance to meet with the distinguished Sheikh Allahshukyur [Pashazadeh]. I came here in another capacity, and I would specifically like to mention your tireless efforts to create favourable conditions for dialogue and interaction between various religions. This is a manifestation of the true nature of Islam, the true nature of any moral teaching. Obviously this is one of the key factors in ensuring stability in the Caucasus. As you know, in Russia there is a very large Muslim diaspora, more than twenty million people, and in that sense Russia is also part of the Muslim world.
At the same time, Russia is a multifaith country, and it is a link between East and West. Most believers in our country are Orthodox, but the state has respected and continues to respect and ensure the legitimate rights and interests of believers of other religions: Muslims, Jews and Buddhists. Of course this is the key to success. I know that you are in constant dialogue here. You met with the Patriarch, and I think that was a very significant and useful meeting. I have discussed it with him on several occasions, and he believes that it was a useful dialogue in every respect.
Your Holiness, I know that you have just arrived from the Bishops' Council. We have met in other places, and it is very gratifying for me to meet with you here in Baku. Indeed, being able to discuss things in such circumstances is very important: the results of the Council's deliberations have a wide public resonance. I think that this is a great event for all Orthodox Christians, both those who live in Russia and those who live in other countries.
I would like to address the representatives of Judaism. I believe that Russia is working very actively now with the Jewish community. It is one of the four major religions of our country. And this kind of dialogue is very helpful, especially as a symbol of our attitude to anti-semitic acts, to extremist appeals to xenophobia, chauvinism and even in some cases to anti-Russian feelings. It is perfectly obvious that this is a very powerful tool. Today with the President of Azerbaijan we discussed our states' cooperation in combating international terrorism and, of course, in this sense religious dialogue is extremely important. And friendly relations can create very positive results.
The internal situation in Azerbaijan is very calm, and this calm is something to be cherished. We have many examples of cooperation: in Moscow an international theological conference of scholars called “Islam Against Terrorism” is about to begin. I think this is a very worthy cause.
Once more I would like to thank you for this meeting and for the opportunity to discuss life's pressing problems, the development of interconfessional dialogue and particular religious problems in Moscow as well as in Baku.
Thank you for this meeting.