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Youth UPF

Russia Hosts an International Youth Dialogue

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Kaluga, Russia
- To create a common space for youth from Western Europe to the eastern edges of Russia to meet and learn from each other, a Dialogue Camp for Youth was held August 20-23, 2009 in Kaluga, a city southwest of Moscow. The 250 participants came from youth organizations in Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Baltic states, and Western Europe. Some foreign students attending Russian universities also took part.

The purpose of the camp was to create a common space for international youth ages 18 to 30 to communicate with each other and bring together the best practices and innovations in the sphere of intercultural dialogue both in the Russian Federation and abroad. The camp program was based on documents adopted to promote cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Council of Europe. These include the “Kazan Action Plan” and the Declaration of the Volzhsky Forum that set forth the main tasks and directions for promoting intercultural dialogue in Europe.

 


The Universal Peace Federation was represented by Dmity Oficerov and Ludmila Maltseva, who took part in the master class taught by Alexander Sokolov on "Conflicts and Post-Conflict Regulation." The member of the Russian Federation Civic Chamber Committee on the Development of Civil Society presented his theory of managing conflicts and post-conflict situations using examples of present zones of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Moldova and Pridnestrovie, and the Baltic countries (excluding Lithuania) and Russia. In seeking to resolve conflict, he talked about the need to remember that people always have different viewpoints regarding problems, so first of all we must learn to know the opinion of the other side. He gave as an example the meeting between the Russian and Georgian youth delegates at the Council of Europe in which they came to a mutual understanding only after they had heard each other out.

In conclusion, Sokolov suggested that each participant imagine himself as a peaceful inhabitant of Tshinvali (the capital of South Ossetia, scene of the fiercest fighting during the 2008 South Ossetia War) in order to gain a better understanding of how the Russian people felt about the Germans after the Second World War. He noted that a recent poll among Russians reveals that they consider Germany to be among the top three countries who are most friendly to Russia. Thus, former enemies can become friends, he said, referring to improved relations between England and France and between France and Germany. It needs only two components: time and effort.

The participants asked the lecturer many questions. The discussions strengthened people's confidence in the principles of friendship and peace.

The peace initiative was listed as a part of the Russia youth campaign on the theme “All are different – all are equal.” The partners include the All-Russia National Council of Youth and Children Organizations, a Vietnamese group, the Association of Foreign Students from Latin America, a German youth organization, and a public movement of volunteer and pedagogical teams from the Tula Region. At the Dialogue Camp for Youth, contacts were made with the Association of Armenians in Russia, the Moscow branch of the youth movement of the Federal National and Cultural Chuvash Autonomous Region in Russia, a Korean youth club, and other youth organizations.

The outcomes of the Dialogue Camp for Youth included joint projects and a Manifesto on Dialogue. The dialogue is not finished; it is continuing virtually, on a special website: www.youthdialog.ru. The site offers additional resources, such as information about a variety of organizations that seek partners and volunteers to help carry out projects.

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