Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent an anniversary message to the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II.
"Please accept my cordial congratulations on the 35th anniversary of
your patriarchal ministry and your 80th birthday," the president's
office quoted Putin as saying in his message.
Putin credited Ilia II with invaluable work in cementing Orthodoxy's
positions in Georgia and asserting Orthodox values in Georgian society.
"We highly appreciate your warm attitude to Russia and the Russian
Orthodox Church. Your personal efforts and your appeals for peace, love,
creative work, harmony and unity have been instrumental in taking the
age-old ties of friendship and mutual understanding between our peoples
through difficult times in history. I am convinced that fruitful
spiritual, cultural and intellectual dialogue will become a solid basis
for the further development of relations between Russia and Georgia.
With all my heart, I wish you health and wellbeing," Putin said.