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Petersburg Dialogue Resumes in Potsdam

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Petersburg Dialogue Resumes in Potsdam


On 22-23 October the German-Russian public forum Petersburg Dialogue will take place in Potsdam after a pause caused by political differences the two countries had with regard to the crisis in Ukraine.

The forum was founded in 2001 at the initiative of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, and Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany, to promote understanding between the two nations and develop the German-Russian relations. Annual conferences are organized and hosted alternately in Germany and Russia and intergovernmental consultations are held as part of the project.

The 2014 Petersburg Dialogue conference was cancelled at the initiative of the German side due to the events in Ukraine. However, the advocates of the German-Russian dialogue found the resolve to resume constructive cooperation in the increasingly tense geopolitical situation in Europe. The events they have recently organized include the meetings of eight working groups and the conference “Civil Society and the Fight for Peace” that was held in Leipzig in late April.

This year, the German side held an election to the management committee of the Petersburg Dialogue forum, which led to significant changes in the committee's composition and the forum structure. Angela Merkel’s colleague, Ronald Pofalla—whose previous posts include Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery, Federal Minister for Special Affairs and Secretary General of the CDU and who is now member of the supervisory board of the state-owned national rail network Deutsche Bahn AGwas elected co-chair of the Coordinating Committee. In order to ensure sufficient representation, the German side introduced 23 more individuals into the organization, including representatives of the Federal Union of West–East German Societies, the German section of Amnesty International, the "Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future" Foundation, the Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange, the German Association for Foreign Policy, the German Association for East European Studies, the German branch of Greenpeace and other organizations. The composition of Russian members led by Viktor Zubkov, current chairman of the board of directors of OAO Gazprom, remains unchanged.

In June 2015 a meeting between Viktor Zubkov and Ronald Pofalla, heads of the Russian and German Coordinating Committees, took place in Moscow. The leaders discussed the forum agenda for the back half of 2015 and such focus areas as economic projects and youth policy.

The subject of the upcoming session in Potsdam is Modernization as a Chance to Build a Joint European Home. In addition to a joint plenary session, meetings in eight working groupsEconomics, Civil Society, Science, Education, Culture, Mass Media, A Workshop of the Future and the Church Community in Europewill be held.

The management of the Russkiy Mir Foundation considers the Petersburg Dialogue a priority, as it is directly involved with the project. The forum in Potsdam will be attended by Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Russkiy Mir Foundation Ludmila Verbitskaya, Chairman of the Management Board Vyacheslav Nikonov, Head of European Programs of the Russkiy Mir Foundation and Director of the Institute of Europe under the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexey Gromyko, and Advisor to the Chairman of the Management Board Anton Ilyin.

It should be noted that the Russkiy Mir Foundation is also making an effort to facilitate understanding between Russia and Germany by means of peoples diplomacy and to foster bilateral German-Russian relations. As such, on 9 October 2015 the Marriott Courtyard hotel in Moscow hosted a conference entitled Germans and Russians: How Do They See Each Other? Mutual Images: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow organized by the Russkiy Mir Foundation and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. On 26 November the Maritim Hotel Berlin will host a complementary conference on similar topics organized by the Russkiy Mir Foundation and the Federal Union of WestEast German Societies.


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