Over 800 delegates from 124 countries have arrived at the international forum of foreign graduates from Russian and Soviet universities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Vice Premier Galina Karelova, Minister of Education Vladimir Filippov and other well-known state and public figures of Russia were also present at the forum that opened on Wednesday.
The Russian Minister of Education said the forum was a so-called summation of the results achieved by the Russian high school in the past 50 years.
During this period, over 500,000 foreigners have graduated from Russian universities, Filippov pointed out. Today former graduates from Russian universities include presidents, ministers and prominent scientists.
The Russian Education Minister also said that at the forum the participants would take a decision aimed at further development of mutually favourable co-operation between Russia and former graduates of Russian universities in economy, politics and science.
Representatives of national associations of university graduates thanked Russia in their speeches for the high-quality education received in the country.
The forum's participants also pointed to the necessity to develop mutual co-operation, including that in the scientific area. Thus, they proposed to expand the range of scientific literature and to employ Russian scientists for teaching at foreign universities.
Chairman of the Union of National Associations of Arab graduates Mohamed Habit Awni, said that at present the number of Arab specialists who had received education in Russia was 300,000. "It is a large force that can influence the strengthening of the links between the Arab world and Russia," he pointed out.
Justice Minister of Equatorial Guinea, Ruben Meye, in his turn said that thanks to Russia his country had received high-skilled personnel. Almost all the key positions in Guinea's government are held by people who received higher education in Russia, he added.
Chairman of the Vietnamese Graduate Association, academician of the Vietnamese Academy of Sciences Tran Dinh Long in his speech called for establishing direct contacts between graduates of Vietnam and Russia. Today 75 per cent of the Vietnamese who received education in Russia are holding important state and public positions, he said.
Head of the Russian foreign centre of the Russian Foreign Ministry Valentina Tereshkova read Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's address to the forum's participants. Russia views foreign graduates of Russian universities as friends and soul mates, relies on their assistance and co-operation for strengthening friendship and comprehensive relations between Russia and other countries, it reads.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.