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Official website of the President of Russia

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Visit to the Bolshoi Theatre

June 7, 2016, Moscow

Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu with his spouse visited the Bolshoi Theatre to watch a gala concert by Bolshoi Theatre and Israeli Opera performers, dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Russia and Israel.

Address before the concert dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the resumption of Russian-Israeli diplomatic relations

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

Today, we are celebrating in a festive atmosphere the 25th anniversary of the resumption of Russian-Israeli diplomatic relations. During today’s very friendly and meaningful talks, Mr Netanyahu and I stressed that Russia and Israel can take pride in our high level of partnership, fruitful all-round cooperation and far-reaching business contacts.

There is also something greater that links our countries together. Mr Netanyahu and I talked about it just before we entered this hall and came on stage. This is the profound interpenetration of cultures and traditions, shared pages of history, and hundreds of thousands of human fates.

We in Russia greatly appreciate that Israel remembers what role the Soviet Union played in the establishment of contemporary Jewish statehood and that it was among the first to recognise that country and exchange diplomatic missions with it.

There were many emigrants from the then Russian Empire and the Soviet Union among the founders of Israel and its present-day leaders. Close to 1.5 million Israelis have Russian ancestry, and the Russian language is one of the widest-spoken in Israel.

Outstanding Israeli writer and journalist Amos Oz wrote: “The connection of Jews with Russia – fundamental, spiritual, cultural and literary – is determined, among other factors, by the similarity of temperament.” These words stress again the historical, human and cultural profundity of contacts between our countries and peoples.

We cannot imagine Russian literature without Isaak Babel and Boris Pasternak, poetry without Osip Mandelstam and Joseph Brodsky, and ballet without Maya Plisetskaya. It is good that mutual cultural enrichment is going on today – suffice it to mention, among others, the legendary Bolshoi Theatre, where we have gathered now.

Its company’s tour of Israel in 2013 – the first in history – was a fabulous success. The theatre managers have just told me about new interesting initiatives to develop cooperation with Israeli partners. Prominent director Yevgeny Arye will stage Weinberg’s opera The Idiot at the Bolshoi next year.

I will not speak now about the diverse political and economic contacts between Russia and Israel. I only want to express hope that our bilateral cooperation will be enriched by new initiatives this anniversary year. What matters most is that we are determined to work consistently and rhythmically, and implement all our plans.

I wish you and us every success. Thank you for your attention.

June 7, 2016, Moscow