Vladimir Putin received Secretary of State of the Vatican Cardinal Pietro Parolin at his Sochi residence. On the agenda were key matters in relations between Russia and the Vatican in political and cultural and humanitarian areas.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Eminence, guests, let me wish you a warm welcome to Sochi.

I recall what a warm reception I received at the Vatican and recall my conversation with the Pope. We value the trusting and constructive dialogue that has developed between the Holy See and Russia. We are working consistently to implement the agreements reached during my contacts with His Holiness Pope Francis. I am very pleased to see that the dialogue continues between our churches. I know that you have had talks with Patriarch Kirill. We welcome this dialogue that has begun directly between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church.

There is no doubt that the common humanitarian values that the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church defend form the foundation for relations between the two churches and between Russia as a state and the Vatican.

Welcome!

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin (retranslated)Mr President,

Thank you for these words of welcome and for your country’s invitation to come to Russia and meet with you at the end of this three-day visit.

My words of thanks and greetings are spoken on behalf of the members of our delegation and of the Apostolic Nuncio present here today, and are addressed not only to you, but to all members of the Russian delegation. I pass on the warmest greetings from His Holiness Pope Francis, who recalls his meetings with you very well.

This visit and meeting are taking place at an important time with regard to our bilateral interstate relations, and also with regard to the relations between the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church.

With regard to the bilateral ties between the Holy See and the Russian Federation, we are very happy with these relations’ development, with the initiatives and contacts pursued and the various meetings that take place. Yesterday, we signed an agreement on visa-free travel for our respective diplomats.

As for the relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, of course, there was the meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch last year in Havana, and then there was the arrival in Russia of the relics of St Nicholas, an event which ended just recently.

Vladimir Putin: All of Russia’s Christians express special thanks to you and to Pope Francis for this. And all art lovers express great thanks to you for organising the exhibition of works from the Vatican museums at the Tretyakov Gallery. As you know, we are now preparing a reciprocal event – the exhibition The Spiritual Heritage of Russian Art from Icon Painting to Avant-Garde. With your help, this exhibition will take place in 2018.

Pietro Parolin: Of course, as you mentioned, our diplomacy comprises various levels and covers the political spectrum and also various cultural initiatives that we pursue. I see a new dynamic that has emerged over the recent months and years in relations between the two churches. I hope that all participants in this process will continue working in this direction in order to expand our cooperation and bring us even closer together.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to make this visit and to meet with you.