Press-Conference of the National Working Group of Civil G8-2006 Project “G8-2006 – CivilG8-2006: Dialogue or Conflict?”
“Interfax” Agency, February, 9, 2006, Moscow
Ladies and gentlemen, today we are conducting a press conference dedicated to the Project “Civil G8-2006”. The initiative group of the Project informed recently about the start of the Project, today our guests will inform you about how it is developing.
Let me present you the participants of our press conference. Ella Pamfilova – Civil G8 Project Coordinator, Chair of The Civil Society and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, Alexander Auzan – President of the Institute of the National Project “Social Treaty”, Igor Chestin – Director of the WWF Russia, Serguei Tsyplenkov – Director of the International NGO Council Greenpeace.
The name of the press-conference is as follows: “G8-2006 – CivilG8-2006: Dialogue or Conflict?” First let me give the floor to our guests then they will answer your questions.
Good afternoon dear friends. Today you can see here our friends and colleagues who were at our December press conference when we started our Project. Then we were speaking about our intentions, today we are ready to present our first steps.
Now it is a stage of forming our Advisory Council, which will be a most important conceptual and methodological part of the Project. All the participants of the today press conference are members of the Working National group of the Advisory Council. My colleagues appointed me a coordinator of the working group.
Today we want first of all to present you our web-site – the important informational resource of our Project. Please, take into account – we’ve finished the primary work, so it’s possible there can be a few mistakes. I hope during a few coming days we’ll liquidate them. It is a bilingual website - Russian and English. And when I pronounce “Welcome to our website” it really means that I invite you to cooperate. The cooperation will be based on the principles we declared in December – transparency, openness, sustainability.
For us it is very important to keep everything that was worked out by our foreign colleagues before, particularly within the Great Britain’s presidency in G8 last year.
And it is also important not only to keep it but to develop it and to transfer to the NGOs of Germany – the country presiding the G8 in 2007.
One of the main tasks of “Civil G8-2006” Project is to raise the community of Russian NGOs to the higher level of international cooperation. For the moment we have to admit that there are not many Russian NGOs cooperation with foreign colleagues. But we would like the majority of our NGOs to participate in important international processes, to influence the decision-making process in the world.
We would like to present you not only our website (our partner within the Project is the Press Development Institute), but also to present you our foreign partners which agreed to enter our Advisory Council. It is clear today that it will consist of maximum fifty persons. There are already many colleagues in Russia and abroad ready to join it.
It is my pleasure to inform you dear friends that our colleagues from London have already confirmed that they were ready to enter the Advisory Council. We have also the confirmation of the German NGOs Foundation for the development and Environment. They will coordinate the process in Germany.
We also appreciate the help and assistance of our Canadian colleagues – the Montreal Forum and the G8 Research Group of the Toronto University. The colleagues from Canada have recommended us already the leaders of NGOs in various parts of the world. We would, of course, use these contacts and to invite them to cooperate. There also other organizations which agreed to participate in the Advisory Council, among them the International organization OXFAM, the International Network for Climate issues and another well-known and respected persons and communities.
We are grateful that they helped us to invite the foreign and international organizations in “CivilG8-2006” Round table discussions and Forums.
It is very important for us not to sink into Russian problems, to avoid discussing only Russian problems and issues. We’ll be serve as a field for the discussions on international problems. And our task is to create good conditions for such discussions, to provide a balance of Russian and global interests.
Before the press conference we have provided you with a working plan, a schedule of our activities. It’s not dogmatic. It’s only a flexible plan of what we suppose to do within the Project. We’ll correct and change this plan within the discussions with our colleagues inside the country and abroad. It is also very important for us to provide an informational openness of the Project. We want the maximum of Russian, foreign and international NGOs to know about us and about the Project, to express their readiness to cooperate with us, with other organizations.
The first action we are conducting soon is the Round table discussion for Russian and foreign experts. To be more correct, there will be three round table discussions on the main subjects of the coming G8 summit in St Petersburg – global energy security, education and infectious diseases. I hope that the first serious action within the framework of the “CivilG8-2006” will be productive.
We have established good working contacts with the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian Sherpa Igor Shuvalov. He has already spoken to his colleagues and during the Sherpas’ March meeting in Moscow their meeting with Russian NGOs will be held, if we manage to prepare our recommendations on three main issues of the agenda.
We hope that by the February round table meetings we’ll have some results of what is being done in the G8-2006 working groups. It could help us to include more problems and positions into our discussion. And after the discussion on the expert level we can more productively prepare the March Forum: to organize and conduct several round table discussions and additional discussion fields to clarify the NGO communities opinions.
We want once again to stress that we don’t want to monopolize this sphere. We don’t intend to elaborate ONE, even the priority opinion within the NGOS community. Our aim is to create and organize discussions which could clarify ALL positions on the issues to be discussed at the summit, to find a common language to discuss key problems. We are not instead of someone, not against someone, we just want to cooperate with those who are ready to do it.
The Russian President prepared the Council for the human rights to help NGOs to organize a process of discussions. Because the Russian authorities agreed to conduct a dialogue with NGOs we have the opportunity to organize this process within the formats that our colleagues in Russia and abroad will propose.
Dear colleagues, I would like to stress just two issues Ella Alexandrovna has mentioned.
Last week the meeting of the Russian Foreign Minister Seruei Lavrov with the Russian NGOs was held. Ella Pamfilova, Youri Djibladze, Valentin Gefter, me – we all participated. And during the meeting I said to Mr Lavrov: if the government has two opinions about an important foreign policy matter it’s abnormal. But if the NGO community has one opinion about an important foreign policy matter it’s also abnormal.
First, within the dialogue of the civil society with the G8 there can not be any monopoly. We just must help various NGOs to express different opinions on the G* summit agenda. Our approach even allows to conduct dialogue with alter-globalists, which are preparing now their social Forum.
We support the idea of different opinions not only on the external but also on the internal level. Ella Pamfilova has already mentioned the members of our Advisory Council. I would like to stress how the different the Russian members of the Council are: the Moscow University Rector Victor Sadovnichy, Moscow Helsinki Group Chair Ludmila Alexeeva, St Petersburg University Rector Ludmila Verbitskaya – three persons with three different opinions about most important world events and three different approaches on how the civil society must communicate with the authorities on the issues of power.
Second. We want to demonstrate not the emotion, but the position. The most important thing is to provide a practical, pragmatic, constructive approach to the decision-making process, but taking into account the importance of presenting the whole spectrum of opinions. For example, many of my colleagues will participate 16 of February in the Round table discussions and to prepare some primary recommendations. Among them there are many estimated experts, whom opinion doesn’t coincide with the official position. And we have to respect and to analyze all these positions to better formulate our recommendations for G8.
My colleagues have already described the Advisory Council, its functions, its nature. I just would like to say that the Council represent the various parts of the civil society. It consists of scientists, human rights activists, medicine experts, ecologists, businessmen.
Now our main task is to transfer the more or less coherent position of NGOs to the attention of G8 participants, to try to include important social issues into the summit agenda.
This process is rather complicated and I’m not quite sure that we’ll be able to elaborate one common position on every priority issue.
How we can to gain a consensus even inside the Advisory Council which includes both atomic energy specialists and ecologists? Some of them say we have to develop new sources of energy, particularly, atomic energy. Another part declare this is too dangerous and first it is necessary to solve problems of safety transportation and keeping atomic materials. That’s why I’m saying it’s so difficult to elaborate a common opinion. The first step is the Round table discussion of these issues the will be held on the 16 of February. It is supposed, that all experts groups (education, global energy security, infectious diseases) will work out their recommendations for the G8 ministers. The main discussion of these projects will be held in March simultaneously with the Sherpas meeting.
If we find enough civil force and civil cleverness to elaborate common position we’ll share ideas with the G8 leaders.
These declarations will be passed to the G8 Ministers whose meeting will also be held in March. It will be mostly technological (not political) meeting of G8 ministers within the Russia’s presidency in G8. To prepare this meeting in all ministries wide consultations with the G8 states and other countries representatives are provided.
Last year I participated in NGOs Forum in Great Britain/ There was also three priority issues to discuss – the rational use of forests, Africa problems, climate as global problem. This Forum participants – about one hundred fifty persons – were representing several dozens of states. The declarations we have elaborated were then passed to the G8 ministers. And I was positively surprised when I saw that the Ministers Declarations kept eighty percent of our text, prepared by the NGOs. And we were also happy, that the authorities of G8 states and NGOs were considering the same problems as most important for the world and civil societies.
I would like to repeat the idea of Alexander that I support. I think there should be not one but several opinions presented by different people and different civil society institutions. But from fife or six hundred opinions we’ll have to choose one, two or three, which can be passed to the ministers. It’s good to have one, it’s admissible to have two or three but not one thousand – it makes no sense.
I would like to make some just technological remarks.
First, I’d like to stress, the Project’s website is to become the instrument helping the representatives of Russian, foreign and international NGOs to participate in preparing, conducting and analyzing the activities we are planning within the framework of our Project. These organizations could use the website as the instrument of joining the Project to begin with the March Forum.
A second remark is more conceptual by its nature. We, the representatives of the civil society suppose that the spectrum of the global issues to discuss must be determined not only by the G8 leaders. To begin with the May or June Forum we will strictly focus on the problems not discussed by the G8, but that we consider also global. We’ll make the maximum of efforts to pass these issues to the next G8 summit.
And the last remark. The name of our press conference is “G8-2006 – CivilG8-2006: Dialogue or Conflict?” A part of the civil society is ready to cooperate with the official G8. Is G8 ready for such cooperation? We don’t know yet. But we hope it’s possible and we’ll try to do our best to make the dialogue constructive.
One can suppose in advance it would be a conflict cooperation.
I’d like to say that for the moment we know the will tp cooperate expressed by the G8 Chair. And the Sherpas’ readiness to meet the NGOs sounds optimistic. It is now our duty – to organize a dialogue inside the Russian civil society, a dialogue between the Russian community with the world community and to pass our coherent position to the G8 leaders.
Serguei Tsyplenkov said it is important to see global issues that G8 didn’t include into the agenda. To do this we suppose to create within the framework of the March Forum the so-called “Forth Dimension” and to discuss what global issues our society is mostly concerned to discussed.
As we suppose today, one of such problems is the issue of interethnic and inter-religious cooperation. I don’t speak about “the conflict of civilizations” but about practical problems of cooperation, social integration, coexistence issues.
I hope we have enough possibilities to conduct one of the Forums (as we suppose, in Kazan, in May or June) to share with our Russian and foreign colleagues effective ideas on the social integration. In this case, the Forum itself and its results could formulate on of the key issues for the next G8 summit.
I want to remind, that one of the civil society institutions functions is the control over the power activities. We want to monitor how the declarations of the G8 leaders coincide with the reality.
We are interested to know how the G8 declarations are being implemented in practice.
By the end of the 2006 we plan to organize a meeting with our foreign colleagues. And to invite Russian and German Sherpas, maybe some representatives of the G8 and to speak about the results of our work, trying to see the perspectives for the future.