Young Leaders´ Forums

Europe Meets Russia

November 2011

Europe Meets Russia: A Forum for Young Leaders (EMR)

(November 3rd - November 9th 2010)

Forum Report

The Europe Meets Russia conference took place from November 3rd to the 9th 2010 in Berlin. It brought together a group of speakers, including leading representatives of local political and commercial bodies, academia and civil society, as well as 32 young participants. The forum explored the history and development of cultural diplomacy with a focus on the development of European-Russian relations from a cultural, economic and political perspective. Discussions ranged from past and present perspectives, with particular focus on the 2010 summit in Rostov-on-Don, European neighborhood policies, the Eastern Partnership and the role of culture and the media in Russian-European dialogue.

Forum Speakers

Alexander Levanovich (Belarussian Embassy, Counselor of the Embassy)
Amb. Aureliu Ciocoi (Ambassador of Moldova in Berlin)
Kurov Denis Sergeevich (Russian Embassy - 3rd Secretary on External and Security Policies)
Mark C. Donfried (Director and founder of the ICD)
Dr. Marzenna Guz-Vetter (Representative of the European Commission in Berlin)
Amb. Natalia Zaroudna (Ambassador of Ukraine in Berlin)
Prof. Dr.  Oleg Kolobov (Dean of the Faculty of International Relations, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod, Russia)
Dr. Oleg Semenov (Deputy Dean and Associate Professor, Faculty of International Relations, Nizhny Novgorod State University)
Peter Rees (Development Director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy)
Mr Régis Présent-Griot (Journalist, La Gazette)
Dr. Ulrich Brückner (Jean Monnet Professor for European Studies, Stanford University in Berlin)
Dr. Zoya Ivanova (Trainer, Consultant, Coach)


  • ICD House
  • Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung (BPB)
  • German Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt)
  • British Embassy (Britische Botschaft)

Summary of Events

Wednesday, November 3rd 2010: The first day began with introductions from the EMR team and participants. Introductions were followed by a welcoming speech by Mark Donfried. After lunch, Dr. Oleg Semenov gave a presentation on the Russian education system, concentrating on the example of Nizhny Novgorod State University. This was followed by a speech by Mark Donfried on young leader leadership initiatives. In the evening, the participants and the team enjoyed a welcome dinner at the traditional Russian restaurant Anastasiya.

Thursday, November 4th 2010: Day two began with a speech by Mark Donfried on case studies of cultural diplomacy. This was followed by a visit to the Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung where Dr. Ulrich Brückner gave a speech about European-Russian relations within the context of the European Union. The group then proceeded to the German Foreign Office where a representative from the German-Russian division gave a talk on the work of the Foreign Office, particularly in the area of German-Russian relations. Thereafter, the group returned to the ICD House where they joined Peter Rees for an interactive workshop on sports as cultural diplomacy. To end the day there was a panel discussion on Eastern European neighborhood policies, which was moderated by Dr. Marzenna Guz-Vetter, representative of the European Commission. Panel members were Alexander Levanovich, Counselor of the Belarussian Embassy, Ambassador Aureliu Ciocoi of Moldova and the Ambassador Natalia Zaroudna of the Ukraine.

Friday, November 5th 2010: The morning started with an intercultural training workshop held by Dr. Zoya Ivanova. After lunch, the group proceeded to the British Embassy, where a representative gave a tour. Also, a speech was given by the First Secretary on the Political Team. Following this, the group returned to the ICD House where journalist Mr. Présent-Griot gave a talk on the role of the media in European-Russian relations. In the evening, the participants and team went for a group meal at a traditional German restaurant.

Saturday, November 6th 2010 - Monday, November 8th 2010: Participants attended A World Without Walls: An International Conference on Peacebuilding, Reconciliation and Globalization in an Interdependent World.
Please see: 

Tuesday, November 9th 2010: The final day of the forum began with a speech on Russian-European Relations: past and present perspectives & Challenges and external security, concentrating on the outcomes of the Rostov-on-Don Summit in 2010. The final afternoon and evening sessions were part of the World Without Walls conference.

Wednesday, November 3rd 2010

Central themes:
  • What is cultural diplomacy? To understand its practice, we must identify the agent, what their agenda is, the vehicle through which it is delivered, and who the target audience is?
  • There are many different forms of Cultural Diplomacy; both governmental and non-governmental, negative and positive.
  • An overview of the reform of the Russian education system was given, from the three-leveled university system and the effects of the Bologna reform analysed.
  • Russian education is modernising, with increasing specialisation of Russian students in secondary school. The introduction of the United State Examination is aimed at improving the quality of education and advancing accessibility.
  • The need to reform the inflexible Soviet programmes system, and to introduce models of continuous professional education, based on the competence approach, was incited to ensure Russia’s competitive edge on the world stage.
  • System challenges include: improving the evaluation of the activity of educational institutions and organisations and the harmonisation of systems, as well as academic mobility to ensure the ability of students to change between institutions.
  • There is a need for change within the ‘culture’ of education.

Thursday, November 4th 2010

Central themes:
  • The topic of cultural diplomacy was explored further, with particular focus on case studies of the USA, Japan, China, the UK and Russia.
  • The question of how to define both Russia and the EU was explored and the challenges of Russian integration examined. Russia is four times the size of Europe. This causes challenges in terms of the balance of power.
  • The identity of Europe is constantly changing, although it continuously focuses on a commitment to common values such as representative democracy. Do we need a blueprint for a final political solution?
  • The issue of energy dependency and how to deal with it is crucial. Further, the promotion of democracy in Russia and a focus on the cultural dimension, not just day-to-day life, is also crucial. There is much work to do on the analysis of communication.
  • Different countries start from different starting-points; we see things not the way they are but we see things the way we were. Interdependence is thus vital - the costs of ignoring interests between countries cannot be avoided. Self-interest should be driven by interdependence and mutual forms of interaction.
  • The importance for Germany concerning trade and investment in Russia- Germany’s biggest foreign office is in Moscow. More than 6000 German companies are represented in Russia and around 40% of German gas is imported from Russia.
  • Russia is an indispensable partner to Germany for many reasons; including security aspects, logistical questions, transport corridors etc. There is a need for interdependence to work together on arms control.
  • European-Russian dialogue has re-ignited since the shut-down in communication due to the 2008 war in Georgia. This event was counter-productive for both sides and a repeat of a similar situation must be avoided.
  • Sport plays a significant role as a form of cultural diplomacy, including past successes such as ping-pong diplomacy. It can however pose challenges as well as opportunities.
  • The Eastern Partnership and its role in Eastern European Neighborhood Policies is crucial, particularly the planned action for visa-free dialogue.
  • From a Ukrainian view, the need for action is primal, not just talk - so far it is a step in the right direction but not enough. Action needs to be target-orientated and judged in the light of concrete progress; it should not be treated as a political forum but as a means of achieving practical goals.
  • A survey showed that 75% of Moldavians were in favour of European integration. Belarus sees great potential in the Partnership; however modest funding measures are a problem. The involvement of financial institutions is crucial in making the Partnership successful for Belarus. It appears hopeful for developments at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Budapest in 2011. Such meetings are currently held only twice a year - this should perhaps occur more often.
  • There is a need for powerful, strong civil societies in each represented country. The role of NGOs is important in the Partnership. A particularly strong group of NGOs has emerged in Belarus. In general, the role of NGOs needs to be enhanced.

Friday, November 5th 2010

Central themes:
  • The importance of cross-cultural communication remains high. Intercultural training shows the need to overcome prejudices and preconceived expectations in order to facilitate effective communication between parties.
  • Russia is a major partner for Britain and is particularly important for trade and investment. Britain is in a cautious relationship with Russia since events such as the war with Georgia in which communication broke down between Europe and Russia. However, there is a need for interdependence and cooperation, particularly on questions of security and arms control.
  • The role of the media in the development of European-Russian relationships is an important one. Participants were given an overview of the main players in the French media. The limitations on absolute freedom of expression within any public information service were explored. The need for more clarity in the representation of potentially divisive issues was made clear, such as freedom of speech and control of the media.
Saturday, November 6th 2010 - Monday, November 8th 2010 Participants attended the World Without Walls conference.
Please see: 

Tuesday, 9th of November 2010

Central themes:
  • Moscow will search for a place in Europe, but not in the EU. While Russia will not forgive Europe’s alliance with Washington, it is a better ally than Beijing.  
  • Russia needs to grow to counteract the rise of China, and as America’s relative power declines, there will be changes- Europe will get more involved in Middle East, Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
  • Europe needs to break away from the strategic prison they have locked themselves in for the past 60 years.
  • Peace building and keeping is not effective at the moment. It will be the new line of Russian diplomacy.
  • International relations should be used more actively for the prosperity of all mankind. We also need to prevent conflict; to organize effective operative activities on all levels in order to stop contacts everywhere.
  • Russia is an integral part of Europe. The EU is Russia’s largest trading partner accounting for close to 50% of all economic trade.
  • Russia and the EU have a mutual interest in enhancing trade, fighting corruption, building security, and increasing dialogue in civil society.
  • The Russian federation would switch to a VISA free regime tomorrow, but it’s much more complicated with the EU due to the sheer number of states.
  • Security remains a controversial issue between Russia and the EU as there is still a lot of NATO-centrism.
  • There are sixteen separate dialogues with the EU about different issues like agriculture etc.
  • The meeting between the Russian and European Parliaments are an important part of the cooperation.
  • The Rostov-on-Don summit: a reinforcement of the four common spaces and the practical implementation of the partnership formalization. Also a crucial step towards a pact for the sharing of sensitive information.
  • The integration of Russia in the EU would make the life of millions of people easier.
  • The existing security system is inadequate and needs reconsideration. Medvedev proposed to create a pan European security space. While Lady Ashton has recently said EU is ready to discuss the European security structures.
  • NATO will never become an international security institution, there are still too many actors not a part of it.
  • The OSCE is not able to respond to its commitment and has little capacity.
  • There are not insuperable obstacles to cooperation. The next summit will be held in Brussels next December and where cooperation will be stronger.