Interpersonal dialogue – dialogue between people – is today perhaps more significant than at any other time in history. This is also an issue regarding education, of educating people in the broad sense of the word. It is not about getting degrees, but understanding one another better. <...> Cast your minds back to the FIFA World Cup. <...> It was a remarkable event where people saw that what they read did not reflect the actual situation — Andrey Fursenko, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation.
Indeed, all connections can be established via people, via their relations. Of course, governments sign agreements or start conflicts, but people are invariably interested in stability, in peace. They want to live in friendship. The aim of our dialogues is to make this happen — Christoph Leitl, Honorary President, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
When setting targets, our dialogues are primarily focused on objectives related to communication between people – personal communication – and helping as many people as possible in our countries to become involved in this process. They aim to involve them not on a bureaucratic level, but on the level of the heart. They aim to bring them together according to professional interests and plans — Anatoly Torkunov, Rector, MGIMO University.
Our aim is to demonstrate the great diversity of the world and its many cultures, and to bring everything together under a dialogue. <...> It is a chance to expand Europe’s understanding in this dimension, and we all stand to benefit from this. Proceeding from the economy, from politics, from culture, a new portrait comes into shape – an overarching portrait and the promise of a development strategy for Europe as a whole. This is crucial for our countries’ societies — Christoph Leitl, Honorary President, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
We [the St. Petersburg Dialogue, – Ed.] have already come to symbolize the successful history of civil dialogue. <...> There are a number of political conflicts which are unavoidable at this moment in time. That said, however, we have a solid network structure for civil dialogue — Martin Hoffmann, Executive Director, Petersburg Dialogue Forum.
These dialogues have been initiated at various times. They have occurred under different geopolitical and economic circumstances. <...> The Trianon Dialogue emerged when relations between Russia and the West reached their lowest ebb; the Sochi Dialogue built on the experience garnered in previous years; and the St. Petersburg Dialogue boasts a great deal of experience and demonstrated its enduring nature and importance, as well as the resilience of these mechanisms — Ekaterina Trofimova, Partner, Deloitte CIS .
We are living in a time of unprecedented sanctions against Russia. And yet, three leading European countries with a combined population of 160 million – German, France, and Austria – have come together. The fact that the leadership and civil society of these countries have agreed to work closely with the Russian Federation and Russian civil society is so important, that I find it difficult to imagine how things would be without it — Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gazprom.
If our intergovernmental commissions worked more, a whole range of additional countries could benefit from this direct dialogue between civil societies. <...> It could involve Hungary, Slovakia, and a number of other countries whose populations are generally willing to work with the Russian Federation — Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gazprom.
Getting young people involved seems to me to be a crucial aspect. In my opinion, young people today are more willing than our generation to engage in non-economic discussions — Andrey Fursenko, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation.
Our educational institutions, primarily universities, are implementing a huge number of joint programmes. We have French, German, and Austrian graduates of Russian institutions, as well as Russians who have studied abroad. <...> We need to do more to bring these graduates together — Anatoly Torkunov, Rector, MGIMO University.
We also have to unite Europe’s youth. <...> We can tell them a great deal, but without them going through it, they will not fully grasp how crucial it is to work together — Christoph Leitl, Honorary President, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
What can we learn from others? I am referring to partnership between cities. <...> Of course, we will do our utmost to attract regions of Europe which specialize in numerous things and can offer their experience. We can work with various Russian regions — Christoph Leitl, Honorary President, Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
Another aspect is to do what we can to organize events outside the capitals. It is clearly a tempting path for leaders and so on to follow – <...> to organize events outside the capitals and say directly to people who are not necessarily so politically engaged, ‘Look, here we are, and we are delighted to join you’ — Pierre Morel, Co-Chairman, Trianon Dialogue Forum; Ambassador of the French Republic to the Russian Federation (1992-1996).
If a newspaper was jointly established in each country by Russian and French journalists, Russian and Austrian journalists, then life in the country would be covered, as would the Sochi, St. Petersburg, and Trianon dialogues. This would be very important — Viktor Zubkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Gazprom.
Today, all European leaders support the idea of creating a single economic space. I believe that this agenda should be part of all dialogues — Slava Khodko, Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, the Roscongress Foundation.