2013-07-25 17:38:00

Putin concerned about violation of rights of Orthodox Christians in Mideast, N. Africa (updated)

Moscow, July 25, Interfax - Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his concerns about what he sees as infringement on the rights of religious minorities, particularly Orthodox Christians, in the conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

"I must note with alarm and pain that interdenominational tensions are growing and the rights of religious minorities, among them Christians, including Orthodox Christians, are infringed on in many regions of the world, especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa," Putin said at a meeting with the primates and representatives of local Orthodox Churches in Moscow on Thursday.

"This pressing problem should be a subject of close attention for the entire international community," Putin said.

"It is especially important today to make efforts to prevent intercultural and interreligious conflicts, which are fraught with the most serious upheavals," he said.

"Russia, with its immense experience in arranging and maintaining interfaith peace and accord, is ready to share it," the president said.

Russia "will continue to pursue an active creative policy aimed at resolving conflict situations diplomatically as quickly as possible, and it attaches great significance in these efforts to the normalization of productive interreligious and intercultural cooperation," he said.

Putin also suggested that relations between the state and the church in Russia are developing at a new level. "We act as true partners and co-workers in addressing the most pressing domestic and international challenges," Putin said, adding that "active efforts and support of local Orthodox Churches are very important" for the government.