Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during talks with Patriarch John X Yazigi of Antioch and All the East, Moscow, December 5, 2017
We are sincerely glad to see you again.
We appreciate your participation in the Bishops’ Council and events devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Patriarchate in Russia.
Yesterday you had a very substantial conversation with President of Russia Vladimir Putin, during which you discussed major issues of cooperation between Orthodox Christian churches. The focus was on the need for additional efforts to protect Christians, primarily in the Middle East and North Africa.
By tradition, representatives of the most different ethnic and religious groups peacefully co-existed in this part of the world. Major world religions originated there. We are vitally interested in preventing religious splits in this key area. The Russian Federation is taking a very active part in the efforts to overcome the negative consequences of the short-sighted and adventurist policy of external players that launched interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. These interventions sowed chaos in the region, undermined the foundations of statehood in many countries and created a highly favourable environment for the activities of terrorists and extremists.
The negative consequences of these events have repercussions far beyond the region. We are making a contribution to the struggle against ISIS and other terrorist organisations by supporting the Syrian Government in fighting terrorists with the support of our Aerospace Forces. At the same time, we are working to develop inclusive national dialogue on settling problems in Syria, Iraq, Libya and other countries of the region with a view to stopping the strife and uniting against the terrorist threat. This will also ease the life of Christians, which has already improved after the liberation of Palmira and Aleppo and the formation of de-escalation zones that were agreed upon during the Astana process.
We are grateful to you for your appreciation of Russia’s actions in the region and are looking forward to hearing your trustworthy assessments of the current events and advice on how we can work together in the future.
Welcome once again!