The two leaders discussed various topics, including the strengthening of economic cooperation, and agreed to further discussions between Israel and Russia to discuss the difficulties pertaining to taxation and the transfer of products.
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)
President Reuven Rivlin today (Thursday, 17 March 2016) concluded the second day of his official visit to Moscow, by meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The Prime Minister welcomed the President and said, “I have heard much about your meeting with President Putin yesterday, and about the situation in the Middle East and Russia. I would like to speak today with you about economic issues and our bilateral cooperation.”
President Rivlin thanked the Prime Minister and said, “I am very happy to be here today to speak about our bilateral relations with the Russian people, and with Russia as an important country in a range of issues. When such a large percentage of the citizens of our state are Russian speakers, the ties between us have increased and become unbreakable.”
The President and the Prime Minister discussed a range of topics including the strengthening of cooperation in agriculture, the increase in the export of agricultural products, and agreed to further discussions between Israel and Russia to discuss the difficulties pertaining to taxation and the transfer of products. Prime Minister Medvedev said, “I see in the near future a real opportunity to increase trade. Recently, we have encountered export restrictions to Europe, Turkey has left our market and we are open to more exports from Israel.” The two went on to speak about the potential free trade agreement between Israel and the Eurasian Economic Union. President Rivlin expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister for the recent official approval of negotiations aimed at Israel’s inclusion in the Eurasian Economic Union. The President also expressed his hope that an agreement would be signed within the year. Another key issued addressed in the meeting was that of the social insurance agreement regarding the payment of the pensions to Russians who immigrated to Israel before 1992. The President noted that the discussions – which had begun in 2009 – were in their final stages and said he hoped the agreement would be reached and the mechanism to make the pension payments would be working by January 2017. He noted that the signing of the agreement would bring justice for those Israeli citizens who had lived the majority of their lives in the Soviet Union.
The Prime Minister expressed his strong desire to advance cooperation in research, especially in the fields of hi-tech, space exploration, energy, and medical technology. The President and the Prime Minister agreed that the issues raised would continue to be addressed in further discussions between the relevant ministers, and the President said he hoped to welcome the Prime Minister to Israel in the near future.
Earlier, the President visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center which is dedicated to the history of Jews in Russia until the breakup of the Soviet Union, and which held a collection that belonged to the Schneerson Chabad Rabbis. As part of the museum’s display, which features many aspects of Judaism, a Torah scroll was placed, open at the "Ha’azinu" weekly Torah portion, which is the President’s Bar Mitzvah portion.
Following the museum visit, the President went on to meet with members of the Jewish community in Moscow. Meeting participants included community leaders led by Chief Rabbi Shayevich, rabbis and other leaders of the Jewish institutions.
President Rivlin said, "Most Jews in Russia do not associate themselves with their Jewish identity, and this is a huge loss. Out of concern for the future of the Jewish people, we must think how to expand the circle of Jews who identify with Judaism. I am pleased that there are Jews who immigrate to Israel and strengthened the State of Israel, and yet I respect and admire those who choose to live here, and sustain Jewish life here. It is important that former residents of Israel who live all over Russia will maintain continuous and close contact with the Jewish community and the State Israel."
The President shared his impressions from his meeting yesterday with President Putin with the community, and said, "My meetings with President Putin were important and significant for Israel’s security."
When the President was asked about the situation in Israel and the actions taken to eradicate terrorism, the President spoke about the problem of incitement, "Mahmoud Abbas knows full well that if he allows incitement against us, it can lead to incitement against him."
The President ended the meeting and stressed that "Am Israel Chai ("the people of Israel live") – this is a fact, not an empty phrase."
The President then went on to meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia. The Patriarch warmly welcomed the President and the two spoke at length. In particular the Patriarch spoke of his deep concern for the plight of the Christian community in the Middle East. The President said, "I share with you a deep concern for the well-being of your community. The Christian community in the Middle East has suffered from terrible persecution and we are proud that Israel has been a safe home for the community, and Christian pilgrims."
He stressed, "We understand the importance of the rights and the freedoms of the religious communities and the Christian community of the holy land. We want to see the Christian community flourish and be part of the Israeli experience."
In addition the two discussed practical ways to advance freedom of worship in the region, and in Israel, including the preservation of the holy sites.
President Rivlin concluded by thanking the Patriarch for his warm welcome, and said, "The Jewish and Christian worlds are enjoying better relations, and we have a duty to maintain open discussions and strong ties."