The second session was chaired by Prof. Dr.  Thomas Kruessmann, University of Graz, Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.

Dr. Thomas Kruessmann, a professor at the University of Graz, as chair of the second session stated that Vienna seems to be a good place for cross-cultural debates. Political developments are keenly observed by the universities, and there is always the challenge to find the right responses. He saw it as a central task to train young students to deal with Central Asia. “In comparison, Russia is so close to us and we have been familiar with its culture and literature for centuries; this is an enormous capital to work with.”

As the first speaker Dr. Walter Schwimmer, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, stated that there would be no European dream if Russia was not included. He reminded the audience that Russia made a strategic choice for Europe when applying for membership to the Council of Europe in 1992 and joining the oldest and most comprehensive European organization in 1996. "Today, after the tragic experiences of the 20th century, we have the chance for the first time to create a peaceful Europe without dividing lines. Regarding Russia, this is of course not a one-way street. Both sides have to deliver. But while Russia has to complete its transition to becoming a member of the European family of democracies, the other part of Europe has to accept the new Russia as a partner with equal rights and equal opportunities. The Russians have the right to the European dream like everybody else from the Azores Islands to the Caspian Sea, from Iceland to Cyprus, thereby extending the European dream to the Pacific Ocean.”

Dr. Henri Malosse, President of the EESC Employers' Group, announced that the European Union was chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 that day. That Russia belongs to Europe is without dispute. He mentioned that when French people were asked to choose the top ten writers, they named Russians such as Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Still the Iron Curtain remains in our brains, he said. The “Western” media and politicians immediately take the anti-Russian side in conflicts such as in Georgia. "We have to abolish this Iron-Curtain mindset." Also Russian civil society has a right to question things happening in their country in a frank and direct dialogue. He urged concrete actions to bring the European Union and Russia closer. Concerning the visa issue, he said that reconciliation between people is fundamental. “The opposition in our committee came from Poland and the Baltic countries, because we have not had a reconciliation process involving the people of these countries. Unless we do this work we will continue to have such problems. Also French-German reconciliation was aided by pairing schools and cities. Unless we do this also in places such as Poland, we will go nowhere.” He reported on a question by Mr. Putin to Mr. Prodi, former president of the European Commission, about how he would respond if Russia asked to join the European Union. After some hesitation, Mr. Prodi said, “Look at the map. Why not! Let’s start to talk!” Dr. Malosse ended with a plea to work together for the common destiny of Europe and Russia.

Dr. Yong Cheon Song, Chairman of UPF-Europe, explained that this conference should be seen as the direct expression of the deep concern that the UPF founder Dr. Moon expressed almost one year ago in an early morning telephone call to organizers of a similar event at the UN headquarters in Geneva. In that phone call he expressed his heartfelt concern that Europe and Russia should work more closely together - for their mutual benefit but, even more importantly, for the peace and well being of neighboring nations and of the entire world.

“Father Moon also passionately advocated European unity combined with forging a strong sense of common European identity. He felt that European unity was invaluable for its own sake and for the benefits that it would bring to all Europeans, but even more so for how a unified Europe, guided by its highest and most civilizing values and empowered by its material wealth and scientific and technological know how, could help to foster peace in other, less fortunate and less well endowed parts of the world. His key point was that we stand on the threshold of a new world order. That world order will be shaped not so much by individual nations as by blocs of nations acting for the good of humanity as a whole.”

Dr. Sergey Kuchinsky, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council of the Assembly of the Peoples of Russia, spoke on the role of NGOs and civil society in peacebuilding. He noted that NGOs are gradually taking the coordinating role in the social movement to regulate interethnic and international relations in conjunction with government executive and legislative bodies. After the collapse of the USSR, he said, ethnic problems based on the rapid growth of national self-consciousness in Russia were aggravated significantly. Therefore, the most important strategic priority for public authorities and civil society is to strengthen interethnic understanding, form an all-Russia national identity, and preserve the diversity of cultures and languages in Russian society. In so doing the cultural and humanitarian component is very significant.

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