Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the meeting of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Board of Trustees, March 26, 2018

Monday, 26 March 2018 13:37

Colleagues and friends,

I am happy to welcome you to the regular meeting of the Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund Board of Trustees.

Our meetings take place every year and are called upon to determine priority tasks in the interests of the best use of this important mechanism. The representative line-up of participants in our events makes it possible to discuss a broad range of issues in practical terms and to adopt balanced decisions on improving domestic public diplomacy and helping Russian NGOs.

Today we are witnessing a growing anti-Russia campaign and continuous attempts to discredit Russia and its domestic and foreign policy. Naturally, in these conditions efforts to intensify dialogue with our foreign partners with a view to telling them the truth are acquiring special importance. Obviously, direct contact between people, depoliticised expert discussion and different educational projects facilitate the maintenance of trust and mutual understanding in interstate relations. It is necessary to emphasise the useful contribution that is being made to these efforts by the Gorchakov Fund that has asserted itself as a sought-after tool of support for the steps made by civil society in foreign policy.

The Fund’s activities are diverse. Its initiatives have already become well known in civil society. The Fund responds to various developments in the world arena through its events. We support the Fund’s striving to diversify, which is manifest both in the grants given to non-profit organisations and its own public diplomacy projects.

I am pleased to say that Fund-supported undertakings have embraced all priority areas that the Board of Trustees suggested at its last meeting in 2017. Priority was given to the consolidation of ties in the post-Soviet space, development of ties between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic countries and promotion of international cooperation in countering new challenges and threats. It is worth mentioning the international conference “Russian-American Relations: 210 Years” that was held in April and was organised jointly with the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of US and Canadian Studies, and the Moscow Nonproliferation Conference-2017 (MNC-2017) held in October 2017.

We welcome the efforts of the Gorchakov Fund to promote public dialogue as part of Eurasian integration that is aimed at involving new NGOs and experts from Russia and other member states in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in this process. The initiatives on holding Eurasian schools, expert discussions on issues, such as the link of the EAEU and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project, remain current.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin is promoting the concept of Greater Eurasia. Members of the EAEU, the SCO and ASEAN have already shown interest in this process. It is always open also to the EU in the context of developing equitable and mutually beneficial ties that rely on a balance of interests.

In any case, we live on the common Eurasian continent and it would be short-sighted to continue renouncing the use of obvious relative advantages in this highly competitive world.

The Gorchakov Fund’s online lectures have won a good reputation. I believe the Fund’s leadership will continue improving this format by inviting reputable lecturers and broadening the scope of the discussions.

We are active supporters of the Fund’s programmes for the younger generation. Last year the Fund launched the youth versions of the Primakov and Potsdam readings. The Fund did much to organise its own section in the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi last autumn.

We also support young foreigners’ increased interest in annual scientific and educational projects, such as “Dialogue in the Name of the Future,” and “School on Central Asia and the Caucasus Dialogue.” The resumption of other regional discussions, including “The Balkan Dialogue” is on the agenda.

The practice of holding international contests for young specialists is quite useful. These contests on the issues of the Middle East and the Balkans have revealed and supported young talent and broadened the range of potential partners and participants in the Fund’s programmes.

The Fund’s long-standing project on supporting expert mobility has won broad recognition. Under this project, the Fund helps domestic experts travel abroad. Some of them travel to promote the positions of our society on different venues. I consider it important to continue supporting this undertaking in the future.

Colleagues, today we must discuss our plans for the future and review priority tasks for 2018. The Fund has submitted its proposals which you have. I regard this as fairly urgent. They correspond to the country’s multipronged foreign policy that deserve constructive discussion and, I hope, support. Please express your opinion during our discussions.

In conditions of rigid financial discipline in 2017, the Fund received requests from non-profit organisations to help them with projects that cost five times more than the amount the state was ready to provide. We are particularly grateful for the participation of the trustees in the Fund’s activities. I would like to make special mention of the members of the board, Sergey Chemezov, Mikhail Prokhorov, Fattoh Shodiyev, Alexei Mordashov, Nikolai Tokarev and Vladimir Yevtushenkov. They actively supported the Fund last year. I probably haven’t mentioned everyone but these made the biggest contribution to our common work. I am sure next year we will continue developing our cooperation with the trustees I mentioned as well as with others.

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