His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with Chair of the Senate of Kazakhstan Maulen Ashimbayev
Participating in the meeting from the Kazakhstan side were Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation Mr. Ye. B. Kosherbayev, Chair of the Kazakhstan Senate Committee on Finances and Budget and member of the Budgetary Control Commission of the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Ms Olga Perepechina. From the Russian Orthodox Church there were Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan, head of the Metropolis of Kazakhstan, and Mr. V. Legoida, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Church’s Relations with Society and the Mass Media and acting head of the Patriarchal Press Service.
Greeting the guest, Patriarch Kirill said, “I would like to thank you for this visit. I am always pleased to meet with representatives of Kazakhstan because I have a special relationship with your country, with your national leader (the first President of Kazakhstan N. A. Nazarbayev - ed.). As far back as the times of perestroika, we were always together; I felt our like-mindedness; and the complicated history in the complicated time created a good basis for further development of relationships. Therefore, I would like to ask you to convey my warmest greetings to your first President, to wish him good health and long life and to say that I am always glad to meet, to see each other, to exchange our thoughts. I value the intellectual potential of your first President, but also the enormous experience which he has and from which one can draw a great deal”.
“I would like to say once again that remarkable initiatives are associated with your first President. In general, Nursultan Nazarbayev is a very creative man, as they say today, and we certainly give a high value to his initiatives for holding congresses of leaders of the world traditional religions”, His Holiness continued.
He noted with regret that relations and meetings between religious leaders are not always easy, as sometimes they are often adversely affected by certain political influences. “But Kazakhstan represents a remarkable platform on which these meetings are held in a very benevolent tone, and every time we achieve certain results”, His Holiness added.
Kazakhstan, he said, is located on the junction of East and West, “where both the Russian and Kazakh cultures are present. At the same time, the cultures, languages, traditions do not collide but mutually support and enrich each other. It is certainly a priceless gift and a very important factor of development for the whole country”, His Holiness noted.
“I would like to stress once again that the interaction with Nursultan Nazarbayev was and is for me a very precious experience. I cannot but mention the importance of holding congresses of leaders of the world traditional religions and I would like to talk about this important event prepared in your country”, the Primate of the Russian Church said.
In his turn, Mr Ashimbayev warmly thanked His Holiness for the meeting and conveyed to His Holiness the birthday best wishes from the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and President of Kazakhstan Kasym-Jomart Tokayev.
“Your Holiness, by your work you have gained enormous respect both in Russia and far beyond her. In Kazakhstan, you are treated with great respect. Kazakhstanis highly appreciate your contribution to the promotion of moral and ethical values in today’s world, to the development of interreligious dialogue, to the strengthening of peace and accord among nations. Your Holiness, we are grateful to you for your effort for consolidating ages-old friendship between the Kazakh and Russian peoples and strengthening strategic relationships between our two states”, the Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan stated.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of our independence, and all these years the fostering of our relationships with Russia remains a key-direction of our foreign policy”, Mr Ashimbayev continued, “An enormous contribution to the development of relations between our two countries has been made by the first President of Kazakhstan, Yelbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, who always with warmth speaks about Russia, about our relationships and about you, Your Holiness”.
“Last year, when Nursultan Abishevich was ill, having contracted the coronavirus, your sent him a letter with wishes of good health, saying that you were praying for him”, Mr. Ashimbayev reminded His Holiness, “Nursultan Abishevich always remembers that latter; and in one of his interviews he stressed the special bonds that linked you two. Indeed, your prayers, the prayers of the citizens of Kazakhstan brought about his rapid recovery from the disease”.
“As you are aware, today over one hundred ethnic groups and 18 confessions live peacefully in Kazakhstan, and we consider our ethnic and cultural diversity to be our strategic advantage. All the conditions are created for our citizens to realize their linguistic interests and religious needs. Any forms of discrimination on ethnic and religious grounds are prohibited in Kazakhstan. At the same time, in Kazakhstan, the two religions, Islam and Orthodoxy, are assigned a special role, and the law on religious activity in our country stipulates that Kazakhstan acknowledge the historical role played by Islam of the Hanaphite trend and Orthodox Christianity in the cultural and religious life of our people. Accordingly, we build our domestic policy in this area taking into account the above-mentioned priority”, he stressed.
“In Kazakhstan, there are over 3,5 million Orthodox citizens - almost the fifth part of the Kazakhstan population, and all the conditions are provided for the Orthodox believers to satisfy their religious and cultural needs. In the last years alone, about 30 Orthodox churches have been built, and altogether we have about 300 worship facilities, and the state bodies are doing everything needed for the work of all the dioceses, parishes and monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church in Kazakhstan”, Mr Ashimbayev added.
“As you know, on the instruction Nursultan Abishevich, a new church is being built now in Nur-Sultan. All the works are progressing in accordance with the plan, but as the Senate, we will work with the capital city authorities to speed up the supply of necessary communications and the gentrification of the surrounding territories”, Mr. Ashimbayev assured His Holiness.
“In 2003, the first President of Kazakhstan initiated the convention of a Congress of Leaders of Word and Traditional Religions. A significant contribution to the promotion of this initiative has been made by the President of Kazakhstan Kasym-Jomart Tokayev, who, before his election as head of the state, headed the Senate and, accordingly, the secretariat of the Congress. A special contribution to the promotion of the ideas of interreligious dialogue was made by Your Holiness’s personal participation in the Fourth Congress in 2012. To this day we warmly remember your speech, which became a great event not only for Kazakhstan but also for the whole Central Asia”, Mr. Ashimbayev stated.
The Chairman of the Senate of Kazakhstan conveyed to the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church an official invitation from the President of Kazakhstan K.-J. Tokayev to take part in the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions planned to take place from September 14 to 15, 2022.
According to the head of the Senate of Kazakhstan, the forum will be devoted to the topic “The Role of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in the Spiritual and Social Development of Humankind in the Post-Pandemic Period”.
“Your participation in the forthcoming congress would be very important for the development of global inter-confessional cooperation between Kazakhstan and the Russian Orthodox Church”, Mr. Ashimbayev stressed.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill accepted this invitation with gratitude.
Patriarchal Press Service
DECR Communication Service