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FOREIGN POLICY NEWS

03.12.2012

Speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov at the Council meeting of International Public Organization of the «Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society» (Moscow, November 28, 2012)

Your Holiness,

Dear Sergey Vadimovich,

Dear Sergey Semenovich,

Dear Eugene Maximovich,

Dear friends,

First of all I would like to congratulate all of us with the removal of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society in this beautiful building. Beneath our eyes, the decoration is enriched by the gift that is presented by His Holiness to IOPS. I am confident that the acquisition of its permanent home by the Society will allow promoting of the ideals of peace, kindness, mercy, which have always been at the heart of IOPS, more vigorously without being distracted by the various domestic problems. Our common goal is to strengthen the humanitarian ties between the peoples of the Russian Federation, the Middle East and North Africa countries and the Russian presence in the Holy Land. And in this the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia coincides with the objectives of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.

We heard today that this presence is expanding based on more solid ground. We have already mentioned on the decision of difficult issues related to the return of St. Sergius Church in Jerusalem. The next step is The Alexander Podvorie. This will not be the easy task, but I think that justice the must be implemented, and we jointly conduct this work.

His Holiness the Patriarch spoke on the Russian cultural and scientific center in Bethlehem. There our contribution to the restoration of the Temple of the Nativity of Christ will be felt: the school will be built, and 1.5 million of the U.S. dollars have already been allocated. Now into practice there is the issue development on the construction of multipurpose sports and recreation business center in Bethlehem on V.V. Putin Street, where Palestinians can do sports and conduct business contacts ensuring the further strengthening of our cooperation with the Palestinian National Authority.

I want to mention that the wonderful Russian museum-park complex in Jericho and Hospice, which His Holiness visited during his recent pilgrimage Mission to the Holy Land. We attach the great importance to such visit of His Holiness the Patriarch. Last year there was the visit of the Patriarch Kirill to Syria, recently - in Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The visit program demonstrated the role of the Russian Orthodox Church in the efforts aimed at promoting of peace and harmony in the Holy Land.

Today the solution of these tasks is actual than ever. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has recently moved into very dangerous hot phase. The Russian Federation supporting the mediation efforts of main negotiator of the President of Egypt M. Mursi contributed to the creation of conditions for cease-fire achieving. The President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin was in touch with all the major players in this drama, as the relevant work was conducted at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Troubled region in addition to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict poses a lot of other issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible through negotiations. I am referring to the events of the «Arab spring». They are still far from completing, but covered the number of countries, where as it was announced, there were the victories of revolutions. Practice shows that the problems were not completely resolved, and we have yet to find ways to national harmony and reconciliation. This also applies to Syria, where the national dialogue has not started, which is prevented by a lot of forces advocating for the violent overthrow of the government. In our interest to do everything possible to prevent the creation of states, in which extremist groups are dominated, and there was the discrimination against any ethnic and religious group. We are primarily concerned about the fate of Christians - this was much talk about this today. We have before us a little later will be presented the project of the statement of the Council of the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society on the Protection of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa will be represented for our consideration a little bit later. I hope that all we will support it, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia will tell its missions abroad including the United Nations and elsewhere to actively use this document in our diplomatic work.

I also want to stress the importance of the unity of our efforts to calm the Middle East and North Africa in light of long-term and age-old traditions that bind us to this region – and about it the Patriarch spoke in detail today. We have no right to lose these traditions and miss the opportunity to promote the peace and balanced development of the region based on the dialogue of civilizations and unifying of all of us around the ideals common for all major world religions.

In conclusion, I want to say that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia always highly evaluates the contribution of IOPS to peace, stability and prestige of our country in this important region. from a geopolitical, humanitarian, religious point of view. We talk a lot about the «soft power» - its not our term, we translated it from foreign languages. When we mention the power, I always remember the words of Alexander Nevsky «God is not in force, but in the truth» I think that the truth should be our greatest force in this very busy world. IOPS activity, of course, is the contribution of the organization, which is engaged not in politics, but in humanitarian issues in the broad sense. But when society are trying to reach the peace, stability, inter-religious harmony among civilizations, I would like these things to be recognized not only the part of the humanitarian efforts, but that all politics seeks these goals.

Thank you for attention.

***

S.V. Stepashin: Our society must make up the ideological gap, in terms of Christian, Orthodox values. Today we can speak openly and honestly that there is religious genocide. Is it correct to put this question to the UN Security Council?

S.V. Lavrov: As to terms, it must be based on facts – there are lots of them. Subject of loss by Europeans of their Christian roots sounds regularly. His Holiness the Patriarch arrived in Strasbourg spoke to the Council of Europe. In our contacts with the EU including the framework of the OSCE, we have been understandably touching this delicate issue permanently. To shoot from the hip, to make any generalization in a temper would be counterproductive. It is important to implement the dialogue and on the basis of the facts giving above by N. A. Narochnitskaya now (we have long been cooperating on this topic with her and feeding off each other with the information), start the discussion, in the course of which everyone has to present arguments. I am convinced that we have enough arguments, and the other side will have smaller amount of arguments. Theory, ideology and religion are tested by the practice. The practice, which is now used by descendants of European Christians in the area of human rights, proves more that the truth is not out there.

Given what is happening to Christians in the immediate vicinity with the Europe – in Middle East and North Africa - we will elaborate on it even more including the framework of the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OSCE next week. Moreover, many countries in North Africa are OSCE Partners for the Mediterranean projects. The audience will be gracious, and I am sure that it will be difficult to ignore these questions.




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