The Round Table “The Humanitarian Mission of Russia in the Middle East”
The event took place June 8, timed to coincide with the opening of the educational program of the same name at RSUH. The list of participants included Mr Primakov, General Director of the ANCO “Russian Humanitarian Mission”, Ms Vasilieva, his Deputy Director, Mr Pligin, Duma representative, Dr. Voskresensky, Dean of the Political Science Department at MIGMO, as well as Rector Ivakhnenko, President Pivovar, First Vice-Rector Bezborodov, Vice-Rector Pavlenko, and others.
The new educational MA program will exist within the Dept of International Relations and will focus, among other thing, on cultural, legal and political system of the Middle Eastern countries, interdisciplinary approach to the Middle Eastern issues, Islamic markets, Sharia law, etc.
Rector Ivakhnenko said that the Program was unique as far as its competences yet serious consideration must be given to the obstacles to be overcome in implementing it.
Mr Primakov talked about the tasks that Russia currently faces in the region and pointed out the importance of the implementation of soft power approach in improving the lives of people living there. He also expanded on the idea of “humanitarian mission”, saying that it was our moral and ethical duty to help the disadvantaged and needy, as dictated by any religious confession. It also has a political and economic dimensions, he continued, that will be the channel through which our value system will trickle down, thus raising the status of Russia and expanding our comfort zone. Yemen is just one example of such a country: its plight is heard in Russia and the advantages of its strategic position cannot be disregarded.
The entities that need to be helped are the people, not the ruling elites. The specific projects that need to be implemented are related to medicine, hands-on Russian language learning, humanitarian aid, export of cultural values, yet all this should be fine-tuned to concrete needs and conditions. There are not enough professionals in this area, either in the UN or in other international organizations or in Russian companies, so the program that has been opened at RSUH is a timely response to the current challenges and needs.
President Pivovar talked about interconnectivity in the Arabic world and that the professionals graduated from RSUH would be worth their weight in gold as, he continued, there is a definite shortage of such specialists in the country. Russia is interested in soft influence in the Middle Easter countries as opposed to rude force and interference in internal affairs.
First Vice-Rector Bezborodov said that the program was unique and had clearly defined competencies and learning objectives.
Ms Vasilieva described the challenges that Russian educational initiatives were met with in the region.
Mr Pligin (United Russia) said that it was necessary for Russia to take responsibility of what was happening in the region. This is hindered, he continued, by the lack of understanding of the processes taking place in the Middle East. These problems cannot be solved overnight so the new program at RSUH is a much-needed part of the solution.