Fort Ross Dialogue conference in Russia

Stylized Russian and U.S. Flags, 200, 1807-2007

Subject: Fort Ross Dialogue conference in Russia
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2017
From: Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia Direct publisher russia-direct@rg.ru

Dear Russia Direct readers,

As you most likely already know, the Russia Direct website, ceased updating as of March 2017. However, the project’s publisher, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, continues to support initiatives promoting understanding between Russia and the United States.

John Tefft file photo

One such event was the first Fort Ross Dialogue conference in Russia, which was held in the city of Izborsk in the Pskov Region on May 29-30. The conference featured the participation of U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. A joint report called “The Roadmap of Russian-American Relations”, prepared jointly by the Russian Foreign Affairs Council in Moscow and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, was presented during the event. You may download it here: rg.ru/files/custom/fascicles/transneft/izborsk_en.pdf

Sergei Ryabkov file photo“Despite the political situation, nothing has changed for us in comparison to the situation, say, six years ago. Those who support Fort Ross in Russia and the U.S. are incredibly loyal. Furthermore, thanks to the trust and warmth shown us we have the possibility to try and expand the number of sponsors. And events such as today’s really help,” said Sarah Sweedler, C.E.O. of the Fort Ross Conservancy, during the discussion. She added that it is a pleasure for her to socialize with representatives of Russian museums and to organize joint projects with them. “The fact that we are collaborating with the museums of Russian America is a new and peaceful chapter in the textbooks of our common history and an optimistic sign for the future,” she said.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, the Special Russian Presidential Representative for International Cultural Cooperation, said there are plenty of places for cooperation in the future. “Let’s see how the events unfold, but history, culture, education and science remain the foundation,” Shvydkoi said.

The business session focused on possibilities for bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, given the current conditions of political tension and sanctions. Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Ryabkov and U.S. Ambassador Tefft were joined by Valery Garbuzov, director of the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, and other experts for the session.

“As of today, the Fort Ross Dialogue platform does not have an equivalent in terms of a comprehensive discussion of what constitutes the foundation of Russian-American relations. I believe that today this dialogue and its comprehensive character are needed more than ever. The dialogue has certain traditions. In an atmosphere in which the wind blows not into the sails but against the vessel’s movement, it is important to hold on tightly to the helm,” Ryabkov said, noting that are many issues on which the U.S. and Russia continue to cooperate: “counter-terrorism, regional conflicts, strategic stability, control of armaments, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, etc.”

The Fort Ross Dialogue was founded in 2012, but the five previous meetings took place in California. Russia Direct prepared a special publication for the 2016 conference, which is available in both Russian and English. Like all RD publications, it can be accessed in the website’s archives. A new publication, Russian-American Frontiers, was produced for this year’s event.

Mikhail Margelov, the vice president of Transneft, which has been a long-time sponsor of the Fort Ross Dialogue, said that conferences at the expert level are increasingly important.

“The Fort Ross Dialogue had taken place already five years, but this is only the first time it is held on Russian soil. Nowadays, in the context of the not easy-going relationship between the U.S. and Russia, special attention should be paid to such events. The experts dialogue can help to provide a harmonization of the future relations between our two great nations,” Margelov said.

The conference’s main mission is to strengthen bilateral contacts between Russian and American museums interested in long-term cooperation. This year’s conference was generously sponsored by Transneft and supported by Chevron and Sovcomflot.

[featured images are file photos]