Civil G8 2006

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Expert Opinion

Igor Chestin


As informed before, the International NGO Forum Civil G8 2006 was held in Moscow in July, 3-4. More than 500 representatives of NGOs from G8 states and another countries participated in the Forum.
The second day of the Forum was attended by the Russian president Vladimir Putin, the present president of G8 -2006. During one and a half hour Vladimir Putin was conducting a dialogue with the Forum participants and promised to pass all the recommendations elaborated by NGOs to the G8 leaders.
July, 4 in his residency Novo-Ogarevo Vladimir Putin conducted non-formal meeting with the leaders of global NGOs - WWF International, Greenpeace International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, OKSFAM, CIVICUS, Action Aid, Transparency International, Global Campaign for Education, Global Call To Action Against Poverty, Consumers International, International Council of Women and Social Watch.

Igor Chestin, the Director of WWF-Russia gave interview to REGNUM Agency, in which he informed about the importance of the event.

REGNUM:
Igor Anatolievitch, how could you consider the organizations which leaders too part
In the meeting in Novo-Ogarevo?

Chestin:
These organizations are the biggest ant most authoritative civil organizations as Amnesty International, CIVICUS, Social Watch etc. and the biggest networks of NGOs - Global Campaign for Education, Global Call for Action Against Poverty, which include NGOs both from developing and developed states. The common point is that these networks work in not less than 50 countries and have about 1 million individual supporters.

REGNUM:
How often do these leaders meet?

Chestin:
It was for the first time in such format. Of course the leaders of these organizations and network meet each other within the framework of UN-organized meetings, for example. Normally the meetings of the colleagues take place ecologists meet ecologists etc. And I repeat that for the first time it was the inter-sectoral and inter-professional meeting of NGOs and networks.
The meeting with the head of G8 is also unique. Of course, the leaders of these global organizations had opportunities to meet the heads of states, particularly, of G8 states. But it was the first meeting in such format.

REGNUM:
Where did the initiative of this political meeting come from?

Chestin:
It was the idea of NGOs which are part of these global networks. We discussed the initiative with our foreign colleagues if it would be interesting and useful. In April we had a positive answer and Ella Pamfilova, the Coordinator of the Working Group of Civil G8 project suggested such meeting to the President Putin and he agreed.


REGNUM:
Did the NGOs elaborate a sort of common position before the meeting?

Chestin:
Yeas, the preparation took a day and a half. To compare with the Forum of Civil G8 2006, where 8 main issues have been discussed, this meeting discussed only four issues energy and climate security, human security, poverty reduction and NGO activities regulation. The last point dealt mainly with the Russian NGOs activities.

REGNUM:
Vladimir Putin met them as the Russian President or the head of G8?

Chestin:
In this situation he met them as the G8 leader.

REGNUM: Was there a serious difference between the position of the narrow circle of global NGOs and the positions elaborated within the Forum Civil G8?

Chestin:
There was not any principal differences but there was a difference on accents. The documents elaborated during the Forum were very volumetric and included much Russian specifics. But the NGO leaders didnt discuss Russian specifics with the only exception the legislative norms regulating Russian NGO activities. Main accent was made on the global energy and climate security, human security and poverty reduction/ especially taking into consideration the importance of fighting terrorism.
The global NGO leaders had more time to meet president they discussed the issues during three hours. And the documents were prepared in such a way to provide the discussion, not only to give recommendations.

REGNUM:
Was it such vivid and interesting conversation as during the Forum Civil G8?

Chestin:
It was a non-formal event and free-for-all discussion. The global NGO leaders had possibility to determine the list of issues they wanted to discuss with the President and Vladimir Putin could also add some issues that seemed interesting and important for him.
The conversation participants were glad about the event. They consider it as a frank and open conversation. Vladimir Putin clearly expressed his opinions on all the issues even it didnt coincide with the NGO positions. It was really an opinion exchange and both sides had opportunity to hear each other positions directly.

REGNUM:
So, the events in Moscow were principally new from the point of view of global NGOs and of the traditions of cooperation of the civil society with G8. Will it be continued?

Chestin:
It will depend considerably on the Position of Germany next G8 presiding country. I spoke a lot with the representatives of German NGOs and they are not sure that they will be able to provide the involvement of Anjela Merkel in discussing the global G8 agenda with the civil society.
REGNUM:
And will the leaders of Global NGOs continue their own consultations?

Chestin:
The future will itself give an answer. Every organization will first analyze if it is useful and if yes, in what format and how often. I/m sure that in Russia such consultations of course will take place though not so often.

REGNUM:
But this initiative is not quite new for Russia. The first time the wide cooperation of NGOs in Russia began in 2001 within the framework of the preparative process of the Civil Forum.

Chestin:
It did. But there is a difference between the Civil Forum and the Civil G8 Forum as it is between G8 and UN. UN includes 200 states, G8 only eight. And these countries having similar economic level and political situation have to discuss their specific issues that it would not correct to discuss in UN. The Civil Forum united a huge number of NGOs, but now we feel we need to discuss very important issues with the participation of NGOs having similar level of professionalism, similar scale of activities, similar authority etc.

REGNUM:
How do you think, does the apparition of such new format means that we witness a step forward on the way of developing both Russian and global civil society?

Chestin:
These format is first of all the Russian initiative, which is linked to G8 but can of course influence the development of the global civil society if the practice of such consultations continues. This is the Russian contribution to the development of global civil society.

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group