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Awarding President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas the Order of Friendship

March 14, 2013, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,

President Abbas’s visit to Russia holds special significance. Last November, Palestine was granted observer state status at the United Nations. It is no exaggeration to call this a historic event.

I would like to recall that the Soviet Union recognized the State of Palestine back in 1988. Today during our talks we were concerned with further strengthening our trade and economic cooperation. We agreed with President Abbas to give additional instructions to our respective agencies on enhancing our trade and economic ties.

Russia provides humanitarian and financial assistance to Palestine and has traditionally helped train national Palestinian professionals. More than 500 Palestinian citizens are currently studying in our country and most of them on a so-called state-financed basis, whereby they do not pay. We intend to continue to support the Palestinian people in a variety of ways.

Naturally we discussed the situation in the region, in the Arab world in general, and we spoke at length about the events in Syria that are developing in such a tragic way.

Mr Abbas has done a great deal to strengthen Russian-Palestinian relations, and it gives me great pleasure to award the President of the State of Palestine this Russian state decoration, the Order of Friendship. This marks your significant contribution, Mr President, to developing close and multifaceted relations between Palestine and Russia.

We value your consistent efforts to expand international cooperation in humanitarian and cultural spheres in addition to political ones. Projects such as the Russian Museum and Park Complex in Jericho and the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Bethlehem have been implemented thanks to your direct involvement.

Mr President, you have done a great deal to revive Russia’s presence in the Holy Land. We sincerely appreciate your kindness to Russia and desire to work together to further enhance Russian-Palestinian cooperation. Please allow me to thank you for all your work.

The award ceremony takes place.

President of The State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas (retranslated): Your Excellency, President Vladimir Putin,

It is with sincere gratitude that I accept this high award, the Order of Friendship. I consider it to recognise not only my personal contribution to strengthening and developing our bilateral relations, but also that of the entire Palestinian nation to developing multifaceted cooperation with the Russian Federation.

We would also note the consistent development of historically friendly relations between our two parties and are deeply proud of this fact. Just as you do, we try to give priority attention to our relations marked by partnership, mutual understanding and cooperation in various fields.

I would like to take this opportunity to express to you, Mr President, your Government, and the Russian people, Palestinians’ deep gratitude for the Russian Federation’s tireless efforts in support of peace in the region, and for its continued support to the Palestinian people as they strive for independence and freedom.

We hope with all our hearts and very sincerely that this year, 2013, will be the year of a settlement in the Middle East and the advent of peace in our region. It will require significant efforts to reactivate a serious and substantive peace process based on the Arab Peace Initiative and those decisions that have been sanctioned by international law.

The Arab Peace Initiative calls for a settlement ending Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state within its 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Such a state would coexist alongside Israel, with which it would entertain relations based on peace, cooperation, good neighbourliness and security.

We reached an understanding, Mr President, on the need to extend our strategic partnership not only to political spheres, but also in the economy and other areas in which we cooperate. We also agreed with you on new investment opportunities to develop fundamentally new projects.

Please allow me, Mr President, to express my deep gratitude once again. I am proud to say that this award is not just a decoration on my chest, but on that of all the sons of the Palestinian people who hold great respect both for you personally and for your policies.

March 14, 2013, Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Region