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Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov meets with the Russian-Austrian Civil Society Forum Sochi Dialogue

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov meets with the Russian-Austrian Civil Society Forum Sochi Dialogue

On August 25 the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Austria hosted a meeting with the activists of the Russian-Austrian Forum of Civil Societies "Sochi Dialogue": Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister; Dmitry Lyubinsky, Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Austria; and Maria Matveeva, Director of the Sochi Dialogue. From the Austrian side the meeting was attended by: Co-Chair of the Coordinating Committee "Sochi Dialogue", Honorary President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and current president of the European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Eurochambres - Christoph Leutl; member of the Coordinating Committee "Sochi Dialogue", Chairman of the Institute of European Regions (IRE) - Franz Schausberger; member of the coordinating committee of the Sochi Dialogue, Vice President of the Austrian Chamber of Economy - Richard Schenz; member of the coordinating committee of the Sochi Dialogue, owner and managing partner of Bertsch Holding, Vice President of the Federation of Austrian Industry - Hubert Bertsch; Ambassador, Special Representative for the Russian Federation of the Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria - Margot Klestil-Leffler; Secretary General of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria - Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal; Chairman of the Viennacontemporary International Art Fair in Vienna, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the RDI Group - Dmitry Aksenov.

During the session, experts gave a high appraisal of the activities of the Russian-Austrian Civil Society Forum "Sochi Dialogue" established by the presidents of Russia and Austria in 2019. The forum has played a paramount role in maintaining the high intensity of cultural and humanitarian ties between the two states in the face of quarantine restrictions. In a virtual format, a course of lectures on Austrian culture, a series of online webinars with representatives of Austrian business and public circles, a series of round tables on the protection of cultural values and cultural cooperation between Russia and Austria were held, a course on the history of Austria and Russian-Austrian relations was launched on Coursera.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the coverage of the Sochi Dialogue audience had expanded despite the pandemic, and stressed the high level of youth involvement in the Forum's events.

"We believe that the efforts of the participants of the Sochi Dialogue, both from the Austrian and Russian sides, deserve the highest praise; they help to strengthen the humanitarian and social ties between our countries. It is encouraging that, despite the limitations associated with the pandemic of new coronavirus infection, the work of the forum has not slowed down, but has been intensively developing. We managed to work out and launch new, creative and innovative formats of interaction," said the head of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. Over the past year, the reach of the Sochi Dialogue audience has even expanded, and the intensity and quality of the discussions, even in the online format, is very high.

In 2020, under the auspices of the Forum, a bachelor's degree program "Russia-Austria: History, Politics, Economics, Culture" was launched at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH). The Sochi Dialogue provides comprehensive support for this program: it organizes visits of leading Austrian diplomats, politicians, cultural, scientific and economic figures to give lectures to students studying in the framework of this program.

Lavrov noted the high motivation of both sides for further cooperation.

"We consider it fundamentally important that last year young people were actively involved in the work of the forum. Students and postgraduate students gladly participated in various lectures, master classes and webinars. A new bachelor's program on Russian-Austrian studies was opened," said the Minister.

Lavrov also noted a successful engagement not only with students, but also with pupils from different regions of Russia and Austria due to their close cooperation with a cybersport event of Sochi Dialog eCup 2021.

The Minister expressed his hope for an early resumption of face-to-face contacts between the parties and emphasized the "first steps" made in this regard. He highly appreciated an international conference "Dialogues on Genomics: Best Practices of Laboratories of the Russian Federation and Europe" that was held in July as part of the Russian Year of Science and Technology at the "Sirius" Science and Arts Park in Sochi with participation of scientific teams from Russia, Austria and Germany. As a result, it was agreed that the Sochi Dialogue conference would be held annually at the federal territory of Sirius.

"Our scientists and representatives of non-governmental organizations of the two countries actively participate in discussions and exchange experiences. And we are interested in establishing such joint activities permanently," the Russian foreign minister said. - I will be glad to exchange views on how we can further support this important community project at the level of governments and state structures.”

Lavrov expressed his conviction that "the time-tested, friendly, mutually respectful relations between Russia and Austria only benefit from the active work of the Sochi Dialogue.

Forum committee members also discussed the program of the Russian-Austrian Year of Literature and Theater 2021-2022, in the framework of which Sochi Dialogue plans to organize several events on the fields of the St. Petersburg Cultural Forum in November 2021.

During the meeting at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Austria a special ceremony in honor of Ambassador Margot Klestil-Leffler , special representative of the Austrian Foreign Ministry for Russia, was also held. The President of the Russian Federation had expressed gratitude for many years of fruitful work on the development of friendly relations between Russia and Austria.