On May 25, 2012 the Public Chamber held the first meeting of the Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy.
“The Public Chamber has a great experience in international cooperation,” said Evgeny Velikhov, Secretary of the Public Chamber. He reminded that the Public Chamber is a member of IACSSI that unites civil society institutions from more than 80 countries.
He emphasized that non-governmental diplomacy is very important at a time when “many issues are aggravated and the role of civil society is increasing
Our country, in these circumstances, according to the chairman of the Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy Sergei Ordzhonikidze “has a tremendous potential.
“At the initial stage, Russia should focus on forming a list of strategic allies,” Ordzhonikidze said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke at the opening of the Council meeting.
He reminded that the Foreign Ministry is currently preparing a new draft Foreign Policy Concept for the Russian Federation on behalf of the Russian President.
“The opinion of civil society is important to us,” Lavrov said. – Especially recommendations on how to work more effectively in the foreign arena.”
Lavrov stressed that he hoped that cooperation between the Council and the Foreign Ministry would develop: “We hope that the Public Council will take part in the work which the Foreign Ministry regularly conducts with NGOs.
According to Lavrov, the Ministry pays special attention to the development of the Eurasian space and the strengthening of contacts with compatriots.
“I share the opinion that the procedure for granting citizenship to those born in the Soviet Union should be liberalized significantly,” Lavrov also said.
Chairman of the intercommission working group on international cooperation and public diplomacy Alexander Sokolov focused in his speech on forms of work, which may be used by the Council members: 1) participation in the activities of the OP, 2) expert work (participation in development of state documents on foreign policy, 3) practical work (public diplomacy, development of relations with foreign NGOs).
“With the help of NGOs it is possible to build professional cooperation in all directions”, – Sokolov summarized.
Joseph Diskin, Chairman of the OP Commission on Civil Society Development, said in his speech that experts of the OP of the Russian Federation and their foreign colleagues are preparing a report devoted to overcoming the consequences of the world economic crisis within the framework of IASSVI.
The report is to be presented at the G20 summit.
Sergey Markov, a former Duma deputy and OP member, said that Russian diplomats, in his opinion, should focus not on “pragmatism” but on “systemic values. He suggested two possible ones: “the concept of Greater Europe” and “enlightened conservatism.
Georgy Fedorov, a member of the Public Chamber, raised the touchy subject of relations between Russia and Georgia at the meeting. “Unfortunately, we hardly support the pro-Russian part of Georgia,” he said. The public figure also asked the Foreign Ministry to pay attention to the cases of extradition of political refugees to the authorities of Georgia (“it’s tantamount to a sentence”).
The new members of the Council were also gradually getting acquainted with the OP of the Russian Federation. Chairman of the Russian Union of Youth Pavel Krasnarutsky spoke about his list of international activities and invited his colleagues to participate.
President of the Center for the Support and Development of Public Initiatives “Creative Diplomacy” Natalia Burlinova spoke about her vision of work in the Eurasian space.
Federation Council Senator Boris Spiegel, Rossotrudnichestvo Chairman Konstantin Kosachev, Public Chamber members Maxim Grigoriev, Ludmila Shuvalova and others also spoke at the meeting.
After the meeting, Alexander Sokolov told the press service that he had spoken with Sergei Lavrov about the four bikers detained in Iraq.
“The situation is under the control of the Russian Foreign Ministry,” Sokolov said, “people have already been taken to our embassy.
The OP is monitoring the development of events.
Press Service of the Russian Public Chamber