Young Leaders´ Forums

Europe Meets Russia

November 2009

Day 1: Wednesday, November 4th
Day 2: Thursday, November 5th
Day 3: Friday, November 6th
Day 4: Saturday, November 7th
Day 5: Sunday, November 8th
Day 6: Monday, November 9th

Day 1 – Introduction, Hungarian Institute for Culture and Restaurant Anastasia

The second ‘Europe Meets Russia’ (EMR) forum with the ICD began on Wednesday 4th November 2009. An eager group of 47 participants from all parts of the globe were welcomed by the EMR team at the ICD House of Arts and Culture where they were  given an introductory lecture to Cultural Diplomacy by ICD Founder and Director, Mark Donfried. The lecture provided an interesting overview of the concept of Cultural Diplomacy and the importance of educating, enhancing and sustaining a strong relationship between Europe and Russia. There was also the opportunity to watch a video conference by Joseph Nye, a Professor at Harvard University, who provided the group with an interesting explanation on soft power.

After the introductory lecture the group made their way to the Hungarian Institute for Culture in Friedrichstraße to listen to a presentation by founder and director of the House János Can Togay. Mr Can Togay’s presentation was very interactive and he captivated the participants with his explanations on Hungarian interests, the design of the building and the purpose of projecting the building as a means of communication to the public both inside and outside of the House. Mr Can Togay then proceeded to show a series of videos and to discuss the importance of cultural relations between different nations. He used the example of the Lake Balaton exhibition in the House which formerly provided a refuge for both East and West Germans to freely meet during their holidays and share experiences.

Collegium Hungaricum

With its office in Berlin, the Hungarian Institute for Culture, not only shares Hungarian culture within the perimeters of the Institute, but it also presents its culture throughout Germany through numerous exhibitions and festivals. One can say that the Institute has truly undergone the turbulent history of Berlin. It endured a dormant phase during the world wars and was then re-established only in 1973 at Alexanderplatz, centre of the former East Berlin. It has now been relocated to Friedrichstraße, centre of Berlin.

In the evening the group had a chance to explore the historic quarter of Unter den Linden before making their way to Restaurant Anastasia in Friedrichshain. After a tiring and busy day the group enjoyed a Russian buffet where they were able to enjoy an assortment of Russian food, ranging from borsch to pillmini. They also had the opportunity of listening to musician Ekkhard Maaß who played some of his Russian songs to the group, as well as reciting some of his interesting stories and experiences reminiscent of the Russian culture. The restaurant was a great place for participants to get to know each other in an informal atmosphere whilst reflecting on the day’s events.

Day 2 – German Foreign Office, European House and the Ukrainian Embassy

The second day of the Forum began with an early start at the German Foreign Office. After having watched an introductory video about the work, history and the role of the German Foreign Office, Diplomat and specialist in Russian Affairs, Frau Ahrens, provided the group with an informative and interesting question and answer session  about relations between Europe and Russia. Themes of Human Rights, Economic and Press Issues in Russia were frequently raised and the group particularly enjoyed learning about the work of Frau Ahrens who has specialised in such areas within Russia. Frau Ahrens also answered some challenging questions from members of the group about Russian motives behind the North Stream Pipeline.


A team of workers within the German Federal Foreign Office who are responsible for the smooth organisation of guests, Ministers and high-profile speakers from other countries. Workers within protocol also manage a set of rules and unwritten guidelines, which all countries can abide by especially within the field of diplomacy.

North Stream Pipeline

This new natural gas pipeline will link Russian and Europe via the Baltic Sea and will be an important factor for ensuring energy security in Europe. It will run from Vyborg, Russia, to Greifswald, Germany by the company Nord Stream AG. It has been said that it will transport up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas every year, which will be able to supply more than 26 million households with gas. It will not only be a gas pipeline, but can also serve as a new benchmark for the Russian-EU relationship. Although it is widely supported by Germany and Russia, it has been criticized by other nations, such as Finland, Sweden, Poland and other Baltic states, due to environmental, political and national security concerns.

After the trip to the German Foreign Office, the participants made their way across Unter Den Linden to the Europäisches Haus, for a lecture by University Professor and Euro Expert, Uli Brückner. Professor Brückner’s lecture began with an introduction to the role of the European House in Berlin, serving particularly as a non-biased location which provides an insight into the work and aims of the European Union. However, Professor Brückner was much more interested to hear from the participants so a question and answer session on the challenges facing European Integration soon followed his brief introduction. The group posed some very challenging and inquisitive questions to Professor Brückner and topics such as the Lisbon Treaty and the idea of a common Russian European Policy were eagerly discussed. Professor Brückner happily stated that Russia could either be seen as a threat or a necessity for a wider Europe.

Common Russian European Policy

As Russia is the EU's third largest trading partner, it is vital for deep cooperation. This ongoing cooperation is based on 4 specific "common spaces." These include: Economic issues and the environment; Freedom, security and justice; External security; And research, education and cultural issues. The EU and Russia signed a Partnership and Cooperation agreement in 1994 but in 2008 agreed to start negotiations on creating a new agreement. Russia and the EU cooperate on various global issues, such as climate change, drug and human-trafficking non-proliferation, the Middle East Peace Process, Iran and organized crime.

After a lunch break, where most of the participants had the very rare opportunity of stumbling across a U2 rehearsal for the MTV Europe Music Awards, the group made their way to the Ukrainian Embassy for a much anticipated meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, Natalia Zarudna. Miss Zarudna provided the group with a detailed insight into Ukrainian history, culture and politics. The group learned about the strong ties between Russia and the Ukraine, with Miss Zarudna providing various examples of a thriving Ukrainian culture that exists in Russia. Miss Zarudna then went on to explain the Ukraine’s difficult political position since it is stuck between two potential paths in Russia and the EU. She made it quite clear that both the geographical and demographical size of the Ukraine made it worthy of respect particularly since it is a truly democratic nation.

Day 3 – ICD House, Bundestag, Freie Universität

Day three of the forum began at the ICD House where participants joined the start of the World Without Walls Congress for a panel discussion on the ‘Role of Education in a World Without Walls’. A number of high profile speakers including Dr. Benjamin Barber and Director of Benelux Office with the British Council, Martin Hope, provided an interesting discussion into the idea of the international classroom and a need for Intercultural Literacy and Competence. Martin Hope also stressed that the dominance of the English Language in the world today was becoming something more of a threat. Furthermore he expanded on his experiences in Russia by claiming that strong partnerships between the UK and Russia do exist, thanks to education.

After lunch, the group made their way over to the Bundestag for a lecture by Foreign Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff to the SPD, Mr Sarmad Hussain. Mr Hussain touched upon the issue of media in bilateral relations, particularly between Russia and Germany. He was disappointed at the negative manner in which the media depicts Russia and he claimed that the mass media tends to forget about the younger generation of Russians who have become increasingly motivated and successful. Mr Hussain also revealed that the Russian German relationship has somewhat changed since Angela Merkel became Chancellor, as she cares much more for human rights. Following the lecture, the group were then given a tour of the Bundestag and some made it as far to the top of the dome to experience the fantastic views of Berlin.

The final lecture of the day took place at the Freie Universität in the far western part of the city. Professor of International Relations at the University, Klaus Segbers, provided the group with an interesting PowerPoint presentation on ‘Russia and Europe, the new global context’. Professor Segbers discussed the role of Russia and its importance for the European Union. He also discussed Russian society, demographics and the external challenges it faces, particularly with regards to the pipeline crisis in the Ukraine and the attacks on Georgia. The group found it most interesting to also learn that in many regions of Russia there is a Muslim-majority population.

ENP – European Neighbourhood Policy

A region beyond the European frontier which consists mainly of developing countries who wish to be part of the European Union. The European Union does offer financial assistance to some of these countries through the European Neighbourhood Policy, as long as they meet strict conditions of government and economic reform. However, the ENP excludes Russia which rather insists on creating four spheres of cooperation in economics, justice, external relations and culture between themselves and the European Union.

Day 4 – ICD House, The Berlin Theatre on Kurfürstendamm

The first lecture of the day took place in the Berlin Theatre on ‘New International Agreements, Goals, Regulation and Global Citizenship’ by former President of Ecuador, Dr. Alfredo Palacio. Dr Palacio sent a very thought provoking message throughout his lecture by demonstrating that the only way to preserve the planet is to preserve life. He also discussed at great length a new world order based on three pillars, these being biology, laws and economy.

Following Dr. Palacio’s lecture, the participants remained in the Berlin Theatre to listen to a lecture on the ‘Freedom and the Politics of Walls’ presented by Minister of Education and Sport in Slovenia, Dr. Igor Lukšič. Much of his lecture demonstrated a modern Europe which should be established on the value of freedom and not on different walls. It was also interesting to listen to Dr. Lukšič’s different interpretation on the meaning behind a wall in that it not only represents repression but also a sense of security.

After a brief lunch break the participants had a busy afternoon schedule ahead of them. President of the Republic of Seychelles, Sir James Mancham, provided his audience with a truly patriotic message from the Seychelles about both sovereignty and the importance of small island nations in the world. An informative panel discussion on the ‘Cooperation of NATO and Afghanistan in a Post-Soviet World’ soon followed and much of the outcome of the speakers suggested that NATO was perhaps losing its identity and is in turn not the best tool for promoting Western Values.

Towards the early evening the participants made their way to the ICD House for the final part of the day, a panel discussion on ‘The US-Russian Relationship’ following the Cold War. A number of important speakers were present throughout the discussion including Professor of Civil Society, Dr. Benjamin Barber. Some significant points were raised by the speakers which included energy policies and the notion of power and empire. Former Prime Minister of  the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Radmila Sekerinska, suggested that the mentality of the Russian people was still very much embedded in communism and that the loss of the former empire perhaps has a deeper impact than people had expected.

The evening ended with a jazz concert in the ICD House which was to pay tribute to the Jazz Ambassadors of the Cold War. A buffet and bar was available to participants and it was an enjoyable end to what had been a very busy day.

Day 5 – ICD House, The Berlin Theatre on Kurfürstendamm

The participants had an early start to the day with a lecture from Benelux Director and Former Director of British Council in Moscow, Martin Hope. Mr Hope provided an engaging insight into the work of the British Council through interactive slide shows and videos. He also briefly touched upon cultural relations between the UK and Russia and how they had so quickly deteriorated between 2004 and 2008 due to political circumstances. Mr Hope’s message was quite clear in demonstrating the significant value of organisations such as the British Council to improve cultural relations between certain countries.

The British Council

The British Council is Britain's institute for promoting British culture and furthering educational opportunities. Their prime vision is to create opportunities for people to understand the cultures and lives of other peoples and nations, and build trust between the UK and other nations. This is most important in an ever globalizing and turbulent world. Not only is the British Council the UK's cultural relations portal, but it also focuses on a number of other projects worldwide, for example: The International Climate Champions, the Global Xchange Programme and the International Inspiration Programme.

Throughout the morning the participants attended lectures to do with ‘Poland’s Path to Change’ by the Former Prime Minister of Poland, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz. After lunch Mr Hope kindly agreed to have a private discussion with EMR participants focusing on his time working in Russia. At first he played an interesting video of British filmmakers who had managed to capture footage of a Moscow Newspaper which was forced to close down due to the economic recession. The video sparked off an interesting debate to do with the corruption of the British media and how many things were forced to be censored. The participants were most grateful to learn of Mr Hope’s experiences in Russia which provided a very real insight into Russian life and culture.

Throughout the afternoon another interesting panel discussion took place in the Berlin Theatre about ‘An Integrated Europe’. Participants had the opportunity of listening to a panel discussion comprised of former world leaders including President Emil Constantinescu of Romania and Former Foreign Minister of Turkey, H.E. Yasar Yakis.

The much anticipated speech of Ségoléne Royal dominated much of the evening’s events. Madame Royal delivered her speech in front of a full ICD House and her kind words surrounding ‘1989: A Year that Changed the World’ were successfully received amongst the participants. A presentation by Former Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, Andras Simonyi soon followed and participants were then able to hear some classic rock songs by a live concert band. The evening was a great success and spirits were high after what had been another busy and entertaining day.

Day 6 – ICD House, The Berlin Theatre on Kurfürstendamm, Brandenburger Gate

On the final day of the ICD programme “Europe Meets Russia: A Forum for Young Leaders” the group were fortunate to have a seminar with Political Advisor to Deutsche BP, Enno Harks. Mr. Harks joined BP in May 2007 and advises the CEO, the German board, and staff on strategic energy policy issues in Europe, particularly focusing on cooperative relations with Russia.

Before becoming Political Advisor to Deutsche BP, Mr. Harks served as an energy analyst with the International Energy Agency (IEA) in the Office for Oil Markets and Emergency Preparedness. Mr. Harks has also been the Senior Energy Expert to the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) in Berlin, an advisory body attached to the German Chancellor's Office. During his position there, he advised the government and officials on international oil and gas market developments. He has participated in various conferences and was invited to the German Energy Summit, set up by the German Chancellor's Office to further develop a German energy policy to 2020.

With such a rich and experienced background, the ICD was particularly honoured to host Mr. Harks, who was in turn more than willing to share his expertise with the group. Mr. Harks spoke in detail and at length about the salient political and geo-strategic issues concerning the supply and availability of oil and gas in Europe. Much of his lecture focused on the subject of political cooperation between Europe and Russia, since it is one of the biggest providers of oil and gas in Europe. Mr. Harks developed an argument by suggesting that Europe is becoming far too reliant on Russian oil and gas reserves, which may lead to a number of problems in the medium and long term. His presentation was followed by a question and answer session where participants challenged Mr. Harks on how Deutsche BP intends to make the oil and gas markets more global.

The Nabucco Pipeline

A planned natural gas pipeline which will be the first to not cross over Russian Territory. The pipeline will cross through Turkey, from Erzurum, all the way towards Baumgarten an der March in Austria. The projected aim of the pipeline is to lessen European dependency on Russian energy especially since the gas disputes with the Ukraine. It aims to diversify the present gas suppliers and delivery routes to Europe. Supported by many EU states and the US, it is said to be a contentious rival to the proposed Gazprom-led South Stream pipeline. The main supplier is to be Azerbaijan, but also in cooperation with Egypt, Iraq and Turkmenistan. Preparations commenced in 2002 and the intergovernmental agreement was signed between Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria in 2009. The expected operational date for the pipeline is 2015 and will be able to carry 31 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year. However, Russian officials have said that this attempt of the European Union is only another part of the so-called ‘Russophobia’ and will continue to widen the existing gap between Russia and the European Union.

Following the early morning lecture, EMR participants were then given a ‘Leadership Initiatives’ session by ICD Director, Peter Rees. This was a successful and interactive hour where participants had the opportunity to create their own ideas on engaging cultural diplomacy between different groups of people. The initiatives included the development of a website that would provide a counter-balance to negative news articles on the Russian Federation that appear in European news services. The group would research such articles and then offer their own perspectives on the issues under discussion through blog-style entries. The participants thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Rees’ session, especially as it gave them the chance to put their cultural diplomacy ideas into a very real context.

Next was a panel discussion on ‘Global Leadership in a World Without Walls’. A number of former ministers and presidents from across the world including the Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mike Kenneth Moore, provided an interesting discussion on the challenges, which the world is to face over the next few years. Following the conclusion of this discussion the participants were presented with their certificates from the EMR team in The Berlin Theatre. Participants were warmly thanked for their informative contributions in making the EMR forum a successful week.

After lunch the participants attended the final lectures with the World Without Walls programme. Once these were completed everybody made their way towards the Brandenburg Gate for the celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite the horrific weather, it was an eminent occasion which nobody wished to miss and it was a fitting end to what had been a most busy and stimulating week of lectures and discussions. Participants had been given the opportunity to increase their understanding of cultural diplomacy between Europe and Russia and how it can be applied in a realistic context.