Excerpts from the transcript:
Mikhail Mishustin: Greetings, Your Eminence. Welcome to the Government House of the Russian Federation.
I am aware that you personally pay great attention to promoting Russian-Vatican relations both at the state-to-state level and between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. We are also interested in strengthening our cooperation.
Russia's dialogue with the Holy See covers many areas which can be seen in President Vladimir Putin’s meetings with Pope Francis as the third meeting took place at the Vatican on July 4, 2019.
Importantly, Russia and the Holy See join efforts in overcoming global challenges, countering terrorism and extremism, and protecting the Christian population in conflict zones. Acting jointly, we can accomplish a lot to resolve moral problems, to establish humanistic principles in international relations, and to develop the interfaith dialogue.
I would like to note in particular Pope Francis’ focused and respectful approach to Russia’s positions on international problems. We look forward to continuing productive cooperation with the Vatican in multilateral formats, primarily the UN, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
Cultural and humanitarian interaction is an important area in our cooperation. More recently, we marked the 200th birth anniversary of the great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky. In October, the Vatican hosted a presentation of the Italian edition of a book by the 19th century Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov titled “Three Speeches in Memory of Dostoevsky.” Next month, Rome will host a Russian-Vatican scientific and practical conference dedicated to the outstanding Russian historian and theologian Academician Sergei Averintsev held jointly with the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences with the participation of historians and philosophers from Russia, Italy and the Vatican.
We are interested in expanding cooperation in healthcare, primarily with the Vatican's Bambino Gesù Hospital. The Moscow Scientific and Practical Centre for Medical Help for Children has strong ties with your specialists. Prior to the pandemic, about 20 Russian children were treated annually at the Vatican clinic, undergoing unique surgeries and neurosurgical treatment.
We believe it is necessary to promote cooperation in education. The conclusion of an Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Holy See on mutual recognition of higher education, qualifications and academic degrees will facilitate this process. The talks on the draft of this agreement are nearing completion.
I am ready to discuss pressing issues of cooperation between Russia and the Vatican. Please, Your Eminence, the floor is yours.
Paul Gallagher (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister.
It is a great honour for me that you are receiving me here, at the Government House. I am grateful to you for the invitation. Minister Lavrov has invited me several times, and I am glad that I could finally come here. Your Excellency, in my opinion this meeting has special significance for our contacts and creates added value, as people now say when discussing international relations.
You have noted that there are many levels in our cooperation, and I believe that all of them focus on practical, mutually beneficial matters, especially in culture and healthcare.
Many cultural events that we scheduled have already taken place, or are being planned. This is largely attributable to the efforts of your ambassador who has been a staunch supporter of cultural cooperation along these lines. I do believe his efforts have won him many respected and wonderful friends over the years that he has been representing your country at the Holy See.
You have noted the attention the Holy See attaches to Dostoyevsky. This is indeed an important topic for us. There is a newspaper in the Vatican that has been publishing articles on Dostoyevsky almost daily.
As for healthcare and the Bambino Gesù Hospital, it is so gratifying that so many Russian youngsters have been able to benefit from the high professionalism and experience of doctors working in this clinic. It is our hope that this cooperation will carry on for many years to come.
As for the assistance, we do want to help children who need it, but apart from that, we would like to share the experience our doctors have. Many of them are pioneers in their specific fields. I believe that by spreading their knowledge we can help children in other places as well.
You also noted that we signed several agreements and are working on a few more. Some of them are ready for signing, including on education and qualifications. I believe that this will be a major step forward that will benefit Russian youth, as well as those studying at the Pontifical universities in Rome and elsewhere.
Overall, I am delighted with the opportunity to have this conversation with you. Thank you and your colleagues for finding time to have this meeting with us today.