“The Contemporary Russian Cultural Diplomacy and the US Russian Foreign Affairs"

Ashot Avetisyan visits the ICD conference “Cultural Diplomacy in the New Cold War Era - "Understanding Afghanistan”

June 11th, 2019
Elena Belenova, News from Berlin
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The Institute of Cultural Diplomacy has organized Afghanistan centered conference with an important mention of the New Cold War Era and Russian current position in the international arena from 6th to 8th of June in Berlin, Germany. The event was supported by the Afghanistan embassy to Berlin.

The ICD headquarters hosted the international convention “Cultural Diplomacy in the New Cold War Era - "Understanding Afghanistan” with the aim of spreading the awareness of the current situation of Afghanistan, its cultural diversity, political and social  improvements and challenges, historical background related to the late Cold War Era and the origins of an unfavorable situation Afghanistan have lived for the past 30 years, with its international actors such as the USA, the Talibans and especially Russia. Many experts have focused their intervention on this last country, which has a very particular posture international stage, analyzing its past and current behavior, social background and its uncertain future.

One of those experts, who had intervened during the first day of the Conference, dedicated almost exclusively to the Russian topic, was Ashot Avetisyan, PhD Researcher of Social Philosophy and lecturer at Moscow State Linguistic University, Lecturer at “Hayordac Tun” Armenian Educational Center in Moscow, Board member of “Ararat” Armenian Cultural Center of Moscow, Director of Avetisyan A.A. Entrepreneurship. From the perspective of his research and academic experience, he had a very interesting point of view regarding cultural and social perception of Russian Federation.

Talking about Russia today, he had started its intervention with a singular question of how the audience with different national backgrounds had perceived Russia and its cultural and political diplomacy lately and what is the image they have about this peculiar country. During his intervention he shed light on such complicated question by confirming the expectations on rather more negative than positive vision of this country across the world societies. According to Mr. Avetisyan possible causes and challenges of this image are: bad legacy of the USSR and lack of distinction with Russian Federation, despite the fact that they are completely different; and the closeness of the Russian attitudes towards the foreign societies, an inherent habit which is changing towards a bigger mind openness and international hospitality rather than hostility, although there is still a long path to follow.

These aforementioned major challenges could be overcome by improving the cornerstone of each society: the education, says Mr. Avetisyan. This way, the awareness of the interconnectedness and its importance of the international and internal relations will help to open mind of Russian people to think and see the cultural diplomacy as a significant factor of each society. Freedom of thought and speech will allow Russian citizens to have more perspective about the globalization and the cultural connection it brings with it, where the coexistence and warming cohabitation can be achieved and be beneficial for everybody. For that, a major reform in the education is needed, which is still narrow and restrictive. Therefore, the improvement in the education has to be pursued by transparent policies which aim to make a soft revolution of the concepts and mind of Russian society.

Professor has also a distinction between Russian internal and external cultural diplomacy. It is important to mention the fact that Russia is home to a variety of different ethnic and social groups, product of the USSR labour of unifying several nations under its sovereignty. This way, even inside Russia there is a huge cultural diaspora which is characterized by a successful cohabitation and peaceful preservation of social diversity within the country. The presence of this diversification has divided the concept of citizenship, belonging and ethnic group: you van be Russian citizen and feeling as being Russian, but at the same time feeling themselves as Armenian/Kirgiz/Tajik/Uzbek and practice their culture with no harm nor disrespect, as Mr. Avetisyan, mentioning his Armenian backgorund. It is a sign that Russia is able to exercise a good cultural diplomacy, but to apply it to the international context too, by changing Russian way of thinking about the rest of the world.

From the ICD we want to thank Mr. Ashot Avetisyan for his presence and his intervention, which was very enriching and mind opening, and for giving us the chance to interview him. It was a pleasure of having him as a guest and to ask him personally on his thoughts, which are displayed above.


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