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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Difficult “Petersburg dialogue”

In St. Petersburg completed its annual forum of civil societies of Russia and Germany “Petersburg dialogue”. Many of the discussed topics, primarily on the annexation of the Crimea — its members were unable to reach consensus. However, according to the co-chair of the forum from the German side, in the current circumstances, success should be considered the fact that for the first time in four years the meeting is held in Russia.

Photo: press-service.

Last time on Russian soil the forum was held in November 2012 in Moscow. Then the last time it was attended by top officials of the two States — President Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel. Symbolic, by the way, that at the time of the event dialogue was held in hotel “Ukraine”. The aggravation of relations between Russia and the West, caused primarily by the mismatch on the “Ukrainian question”, led to the fact that the next meeting was held without the national leaders, and in 2014, “Dialogue” and does not take place: the German side has refused to participate in the forum in protest against the “annexation” of Crimea and Russia’s support of the Eastern Ukrainian “separatists”.

On these points the position of Germany since then has not changed. This is evidenced by the speech of the Chairman of the forum from the German side, the former head of the Federal Chancellery Robert Offaly at the opening ceremony — filled with criticism of Russian foreign policy. However, it fell and domestic, in the first place, “persecution of NGOs”. However, the German approach to communication with Russia has undergone significant changes. “I share the position of the Federal government: in the current situation, the Petersburg dialogue forum between the civil societies is an important negotiation channel, said Robert Poffala in an interview with the newspaper Die Welt. Today this is the only official channel for the exchange of views.”

And it’s not just words. A couple of years ago quite acutely the question of the financing of the forum on the German side. But this year, the German government doubled its share of the costs, bringing it up to 250 thousand euros. Another 100 thousand are collected in the form of donations from businesses. Thanks to this the Germans managed to bring to St. Petersburg an unprecedented large delegation — about 200 people-politicians, public figures, businessmen, experts. A number of working groups of the forum increased to ten.

However, discussion at the highest level did not take place again. However, Vitaly Ignatenko, President of the world Association of Russian press, the head of the working group of the forum “the media” convinced that the tradition of participation of the first persons should recover. However, a serious problem here he does not see: the leaders of the two countries participate in the forum through their representatives. “They know all our Affairs, in the course of the program, aware of the focus of the discussion, said Ignatenko. — These are tacit participants of the forum”.

He doesn’t think big trouble and disagreements associated with the Crimea and the Ukrainian question”: “for Example in our working group — “media”, we left out of the equation. Our position colleagues know. And we know their position. So it makes no sense to talk about the same thing many times”. But on the topic of “Migration crisis and its reflection in the media” conversation, according to Ignatenko, turned out the burning and useful. Yes, and what else could he be in the background of what happened before the attack in nice?

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