We are please to greet the participants of the first European Russian Forum which will examine issues concerning the live of the Russian-speaking community in Europe and its role in the relations between the EU and Russia.
In the beginning of the 21st century a large diaspora of our compatriots arose in the countries of western and central Europe. For several generations now, many Russians have been living in countries of what is now the European Union, keeping their own religion and culture. motherland.
The Church is the guardian not only of faith but also of our language, culture, sense of brotherhood and mutual aid among Russians.
The Russian Orthodox Church has always aspired to unite the Russians, who, because of quirks of fate, found themselves living outside the borders of the motherland. The Church remains the unfaltering guardian, not just of faith but also of our language, culture, sense of brotherhood and mutual aid among Russians scattered all over the world. Unfortunately the tragic events of the last century brought about several divisions within our diaspora. But today we rejoice that with God's assistance the reunification of the Church Abroad and with the Moscow Patriarchate in a special way helps our compatriots to find full "Unity of Spirit in the Bond of Peace" (Eph. 4.3).
Russian civilization has always seen itself as one of the bridges between East and West. Based on the truths of Orthodox Christianity, it also constituted a unique space for different beliefs, cultures and traditions to coexist. We are convinced that this experience is called for more than ever in today's Europe where we see attempts to bring people from different cultures and ways of life together. Each national-cultural and religious community has the right fully to participate in the life of society, bring its influence to bear on its present and future. I beg you to keep this in mind and not feel embarrassed to talk about it.
Regardless of the existing differences, all "waves" of Russian emigration to Europe are seen as one entity. However, thus far it does not have uniform and single, generally recognized organizational structures. Knowing this, let us remember the warning from the Holy Scriptures "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." (Math 12.25)
I hope that the Forum will help consolidating the Russian-speaking community, with a more consistent defense of its interests, developing its contribution to the life in various countries and in strengthening ties with the motherland.
I wish the Forum's participants fruitful deliberation of the topics before you. May your thoughts and words be invigorated by profound belief, hope for a better future, God's love, for the motherland and each other. The blessing of the Lord be with you all.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Strasbourg, October 1, 2007