Religious factor must be strengthened in bilateral relations - Russian Patriarch tells Ukrainian PM

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has said that the development of relations with Ukraine ranks among his priorities and that the religious factor must be strengthened in bilateral relations. Relations between Ukraine and Russia "are the central, not peripheral task," the Patriarch said during talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at Moscow's St. Daniel monastery on Wednesday.

Patriarch Kirill also said that he highly values the opportunity to establish "a contact and dialogue" with representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and that the "religious factor" plays a significant role in bilateral relations.

Ukraine and Russia have a common religion, history and culture, he said.

"Together, we are the bedrock on which the East Orthodox civilization rests. This must help us build relations in all directions," he also said.

But Patriarch Kirill expressed regret that the religious factor "is not fully involved in the sphere which can be characterized as relations between Ukraine and Russia."

"For us Kiev is synonymous with Constantinople. It is the spiritual capital city of Russian Orthodoxy," he said.

Given this, it is becoming clear "how important the religious factor is in the life of our people, and what an important role it can play in relations between our countries," said Patriarch Kirill.

Source: Interfax religion