The fourth session was chaired by Mr. Mark Brann, Secretary General of UPF-Europe.

  • Dr. Willem Van Eekelen, former West European Union Secretary General and Defense Minister of the Netherlands
  • Prof. Dr. Irina Orlova, Head of the Department of Sociology and Comparative Research, Institute of Socio-Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Mr. Christian Rathner, Austrian National TV, Religion department
  • Dr. Erhard Busek, Vice Chancellor of the Republic of Austria (1991-1995)

Dr. Willem Van Eekelen, former Western European Union Secretary General and Defense Minister of the Netherlands, expressed his concern about a growing lack of ethics among Europeans, noting that what made the European model remarkable in his eyes is its motto of "Unity in Diversity“ practiced by 27 nations that share  the same views on human rights, market economy, and especially respect for differences. He defined three crucial questions to be raised regarding partnership with Russia: the way Russia relates to its neighbors, the problem of corruption, and Russia's willingness – or unwillingness - to join an international framework for action, such as in relation to Syria. The essence of European politics, he concluded, could be summarized in the four freedoms that US President Franklin Roosevelt considered essential: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want.

Dr. Irina Orlova,  Head of the Department of Sociology and Comparative Studies at the Institute of Socio-Political Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, gave a presentation on “Multiculturalism in Europe and Russia: Theory and Practice.” She mentioned how, despite its apparently sound theory, the multicultural approach came to be rejected as inconsistent after decades of practice by some major European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, because it resulted in “potential instability and national insecurity.” Yet, she said that while in Europe the concept of multiculturalism has proved to be unrealistic and utopian, in Russia it still remains part of current liberal reforms. Based on research, she concluded, “we should focus on the fact that both in European States and Russia there is a basic culture that unites different parts of society, and formulate the idea of a protected identity, a common language, and taking care of the majority that will consolidate the community.”

Mr. Christian Rathner, a journalist on religious affairs in the Austrian National TV (ORF), shared his experience as a student in the Soviet Union and took  the discussion to the realm of culture. He focused on the ambiguous relationship between political leaders and artists in Russia, such as Pushkin and Nikolai I or Shostakovich and Stalin, but concluded that in the end the poet is the one who remains to tell the story. He advised Europeans to listen more to Russian artists – they are the ones who take European art most seriously.  “This is what I learnt from Russia: read your poets, acknowledge your artists, listen to your musicians, keep the dialogue with traditional heritage alive - and in this sense become more European!“

Dr. Erhard Busek, former Vice Chancellor of the Republic of Austria (1991-1995) and current EU coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe, said that the crucial question for Europe and Russia was, “What is the content of Europe?” He endorsed the idea that “We cannot love a common market; we need to give Europe a soul.” He especially lamented that education had been ignored by the fathers of European integration. Taking the example of how history books in Europe differ, reflecting conflicting views of the past, he emphasized that Europeans, including Russians, need to learn more about each other. The Nobel Peace Prize to Europe, he said, will be justified only after Europe contributes to a peaceful world in the future.

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