On July 15, Secretary of the Civic Chamber Valery Fadeyev, Deputy Secretary Sergei Ordzhonikidze and other Civic Chamber members had a meeting with Iranian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia Mehdi Sanaei and members of the Iranian Embassy. They focused on relations between the civil societies of Russia and Iran and on methods to promote these ties.
Valery Fadeyev told the Iranian officials about Russia’s Civic Chamber, adding that its first chair was Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, who initiated the chamber’s activities on international topics.
“We continue to operate in the sphere of public diplomacy outlined by Velikhov. We believe it is important to work with various countries and continents, including in Asia, where we worked with China, Japan, Vietnam and Cambodia, and in Europe, where our partners are France and Germany,” the Civic Chamber Secretary pointed out. “Iran is a great power and a good neighbor of Russia. We regret to say that ties between our civil societies are insufficiently developed, despite the active political and economic contacts between our countries. I believe that our countries must work to promote full ties between our civil societies.”
Deputy Secretary Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Chair of the Civic Chamber’s Russian Public Council for International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy, took over from Fadeyev. He said: “We believe that we should continue to strengthen our good-neighborly relations, focusing above all on their future, which means on our young people.”
Ordzhonikidze noted that Russia is developing as a multinational and multi-faith nation based on the principle of tolerance, including religious tolerance, so that now ethnic minorities living in the Russian regions enjoy broad cultural autonomy.
, Deputy Chair of the Civic Chamber Commission on Public Diplomacy, Humanitarian Cooperation and Maintenance of Traditional Values, spoke about the importance of developing ties between the civil societies of Russia and Iran. She highlighted the role that the Civic Chamber of Russia could play toward this end: “We said more than once that public ties between Russia and Iran are much less intensive than their bilateral economic and political relations. Therefore, the Civic Chamber appears to be the best choice in Russia for promoting these ties.”
, member of the Commission for Youth, Volunteers and Patriotic Education and Chair of the Association of Volunteer Centers, added: “Over the past five years, Russia has moved forward in the sphere of volunteer projects, and we would like to share this experience with others and put forth some practical proposals.” He invited Iranian volunteers to the International Volunteer Forum, which will take place in Moscow in December 2019.
Ambassador Mehdi Sanaei said he shared the view on the importance of promoting civil society ties. “First of all, social problems are very similar in Iran and Russia. And second, it is true that relations between our states are well developed, whereas civil society ties are much less strong. This gap must be closed.”
“This is why we have done a great deal toward this end over a period of the past few years. For example, we have established the Association of Russian and Iranian Universities. We also stimulated the work of the youth section of the tourism industry and promoted ties between Russian and Iranian journalists. It goes without saying that we welcome any actions that will help to strengthen cooperation between our countries,” Sanaei said.
The ambassador proposed coordinating moves aimed at promoting dialogue, one of which will be a visit by a Civic Chamber delegation to Iran.
Mehdi Sanaei also supported the idea of adding momentum to youth cooperation: “Youth affairs are given priority attention in Iran, which is a country of young people. Over 50 percent of our population are young people aged below 30. Iran’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has a special youth department, which could help boost ties between the youth organizations of Russia and Iran.”
Since there are no organizations in Iran similar to Russia’s Civic Chamber, Counselor of the Iranian Embassy in Russia Ali Mohaghegh proposed holding individual dialogues on different topics. One of them is a decline in the birth rate, which may ultimately have a negative impact on both countries’ economic development.
Counselor of the Iranian Embassy Bahram Heidari
pointed out: “Historically, our nations have always been tied by friendship, and we would like to preserve these relations in the future as well. However, international relations are now developing in the context of the rise of new information and communication media. In light of the domination of the Western pop culture, technology and media, the attention of the public, especially young people, is focused on the countries that are prevalent in the cultural and information space. This poses danger to our nations and can create a situation where we will become ignorant neighbors who know nothing about one another. This is why Russia’s activities to boost ties between our youth associations are so important. I am sure that we can achieve a great deal when it comes to the development of youth tourism. A big step towards this could also be the establishment of student and science conferences of our countries’ universities.”
In conclusion, Valery Fadeyev praised the constructive focus of the ideas expressed at the meeting and proposed discussing practical measures for their implementation.