German-Russian 2016-17 Youth Exchange
The opening ceremony was held in MoscowJuly 01st, 2016
The opening ceremony was held on 9th of June at "Cosmos" Hotel in Moscow. Guests were greeted with a speech from a variety of representatives, including: the Special Representative of the Russian President for International Cultural Cooperation, Mikhail Shvydkoi; the German Ambassador to Russia, Rüdiger von Fritsch; the Head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, Sergey Pospelov, and the Deputy Head of the Rossotrudnichestvo, Alexander Radkov.
In an opening speech (read by Ambassador Fritsch) German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasised that ‘Russia is and will remain an indispensable partner in shaping the world of tomorrow.’ Steinmeier initiated the year of youth exchange together with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, however was unable to attend the opening ceremony. Speeches from both ministers emphasised the importance of the youth exchange, referencing the current climate of political tension.
In December 2014, the government of the Russian Federation and the government of Germany reached an agreement in the field of youth cooperation. The agreement saw the creation of a Russian-German council to promote youth cooperation and aide the cooperation between offices responsible for youth exchange. It is in accordance with this agreement that the Russian-German youth cooperation operates.
According to state secretary for the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Rald Kleindiek, there were meetings with over 17000 participants last year. This number, although impressive, is decreasing. There could be numerous reasons for this occurrence, among which may be media reports projecting negative images of both Russia and Germany, or complicated and time-consuming visa procedures.
Both Russia and Germany are working to attract more young people to participate in this program. It is hoped that doing so may help Russia and Germany to overcome disputes and improve relations between the two countries.
Cultural Diplomacy News
Nana Amiranashvili, Sopiko Reizba, CD News