MOSCOW, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society (IOPS) would open its office in Damascus and the first Russian school in Palestine, Society’s chairman Sergei Stepashin told reporters on Monday in comments on his recent visit to Syria.
Stepashin said there was an agreement with Russian leadership on the IOPS office in Damascus.” Patriarch John X of Antioch and All The East has given his blessing,” Stepashin said. “So we will have an additional channel for contacts,” he added.
The chairman of the IOPS noted that historically, particularly as concerns the history of Christianity, Syria and Palestine had always been closely connected. He reminded reporters that since the society was set up at the end of the 19th century, work had continued in that region to protect Christian sacred sites. “On September 1 we are opening the first Russian school in Palestine,” he continued.
When asked by Itar-Tass what the IOPS was doing for the return of Palestinian Christians to their historical homeland, he said all conditions must be created for Palestine at the moment so that everything was clear and understandable as concerns its statehood.
“There are quite a lot of Orthodox Christians in Palestine,” he added. “The activity of Palestine’s leadership and population towards us is friendly and pronouncedly respectful - ‘do come, please’. Nobody will feel an outcast,” he said.
Stepashin also reminded reporters that once he had brought to Palestine players from Dynamo Moscow football club. “They were welcomed like [first person in space Yuri] Gagarin. What an attitude! Palestine is priority in our activity,” he said.