Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with Metropolitan Hilarion, who is in charge of external church relations at the Patriarchate of Moscow, in Budapest on Friday, Orbán’s press chief said. Topics they discussed included the persecution of Christians, cooperation between the eastern and western Orthodox churches and the Russian Orthodox church’s work in Hungary. Orbán praised Metropolitan Hilarion for defending at the most prestigious international forums the victims of modern-time persecution of Christians and for pointing out the dangers of losing Christian roots. They also discussed the planned visit of Patriarch Kirill, the Orthodox church leader, to Hungary, as well as the Russian Church Cultural Days event to be held in Hungary in November and December. Metropolitan Hilarion thanked Orbán for the ongoing and planned renovation of Orthodox churches in Hungary. The meeting explored the possibilities for future cooperation to save and strengthen persecuted Christian communities. After the meeting, Zsolt Semjén, Hungary’s deputy prime minister in charge of religious affairs, presented Metropolitan Hilarion the Hungarian Republic’s Order of Merit, Middle Cross with the Star. Hilarion received the high state honour in recognition of his diplomatic work and commitment towards developing international cooperation among Christian communities, as well as for defending Hungary’s policy of protecting and supporting Christianity.