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Meeting with heads of Middle East Christian churches

October 30, 2019, Budapest

Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban had a meeting with the heads of Christian churches of the Middle East held with the assistance of Hungary.

Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban (retranslated): We know each other very well; we have known each other for years, and I have told President Putin why we are holding this meeting.

Many years ago, there was much talk, especially in the EU, about the developments in the Middle East and the Christian communities there, as well as about what should be done about this, that is, what we as politicians should do.

Opinions differed, and it was difficult to decide what should be done and what actions would really be effective. Finally, I decided that the best solution would be to ask the opinion of the people living in the region and the heads of the region’s churches.

I regularly tried to invite the heads of these churches to take part in our meeting. We politicians want to know your opinion about what should really be done in the region and about your needs.

This is how we decided to hold this meeting today. I hope it will be a wonderful opportunity to discuss this issue. We have held personal meetings, and today we can talk about important topics, about what politicians can do to improve your life in this region. Thank you very much for accepting our invitation.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, Your Holinesses and Beatitudes, venerable hierarchs,

First of all, I would like to thank Prime Minister Orban for organising this meeting.

We have met with some of you many times. Nevertheless, I would like to say once again that Russia, as you know, has been working consistently to help to bring peace and stability to the Middle East.

It is a fact that Russia has done a great deal in the fight against the universal evil of terrorism, including in the Middle East as a whole, in Syria in particular, as well as in the fight against ISIS.

We know, as we have just said at a meeting with the press, that, although the Middle East is the cradle of Christianity, the position of Christians in the region is very difficult, with murder, violence and plunder.

We see that Christians are leaving the Middle East en masse. This is an alarming development. It is alarming because our identity is based on the Christian culture, as we have noted at the meeting with Mr Prime Minister today. It is hard to watch what is happening to Christians in the Middle East.

This is why I wholeheartedly support what my colleague has said here. Although we know, in general, what is happening there and what your needs are, it would be good if we heard your opinions about the situation and about what else we can do to help and support you. In fact, this is the essence of our meeting today, if I understand Mr Prime Minister’s intentions.

Thank you. I would like to convey the best regards from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

I had the pleasure of talking to him earlier today. He knows about this meeting, and he has asked me to convey his greetings to you and to wish you all the very best.


October 30, 2019, Budapest