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Belgium hosts the Brussels Dialogue

On October 26, the European capital hosted the 1st International Youth Forum "Brussels Dialogue" aimed at building ties between young people of the European countries and Russia and deepening cooperation in cultural, scientific, informational, and educational fields.

The forum was organized by the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Brussels with the support of the Central Office of Rossotrudnichestvo in partnership with MGIMO University and the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund.

The forum was truly unique and intense. It continued over one day at two venues: Policy Platform and Creative Platform. It brought together more than 300 representatives of youth and student associations, creative professions and academia, journalists, young entrepreneurs from Russia and Europe: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.

During the opening ceremony, H.E. Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Belgium Alexander Tokovinin emphasized the Forum’s importance in developing partnerships in Europe based on mutual respect, willingness to work together and find common solutions. He quoted former Prime Minister of Belgium, Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens, who said that he did not stand on the side of naive optimists or pessimists, but “he is with those who want to prove things: to bring down walls and to construct bridges”.

The Policy Platform included four panel discussions with the participation of Russian and international experts: “Cooperation within the Framework of Public and Academic Diplomacy”, “The Economic Future of Europe (Energy, Climate, Integration Processes)”, “Civic Initiatives as an Instrument of Society Development", and "New Technologies - the Territory of Cooperation."

Vera Bunina, Director of the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in Brussels, congratulated guests and participants on the beginning of the Forum and read out a greeting from Eleonora Mitrofanova, Head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation. She emphasized the role of the Forum as a new platform for the dialogue aimed at strengthening existing and building new ties. She also noted: “The motto of the Brussels Dialogue is “Think, Act, Create!”

There was, indeed, a star cast of key speakers. Experts on the main discussion platforms included ULB University, Mons University, KU Leuven University, Skolkovo Foundation, the Association of Strategic Initiatives, the European Youth Forum, the Council of Europe and the European Union Partnership Program in the Field of Youth Policy, the Council of Young Diplomats, the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Diplomatic Academy, FIT, Ahlers, Schneider Electric, ING Bank, the National Youth Council of Russia, All-Russian Movement “Victory Volunteers”, the Association of Volunteer Centres and many others.

Key speakers at the plenary sessions were Yuri Metelev, Deputy Head of Rossotrudnichestvo; Andrey Tsyrper, Executive Media Director of Rambler&Co; Davide Capecchi, Policy Officer of the EU-CoE Partnership on Youth, Representative of the Council of Europe Youth Department; Elena Myakotnikova, Corporate Director of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives; Ville Majamaa, Board Member of the European Youth Forum; Oleg Barabanov, Deputy Director for Research, European Studies, MGIMO-University, Program Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club; and Vitaly Solonetsky, Head of Unit of Youth Programs and Public Diplomacy Development of Rossotrudnichestvo.

The discussion was moderated by Regina Sevostyanova, “Rossiya24” correspondent; Gunter Gaublomme, Director of the Brussels Diplomatic Academy; Geoffrey Granjean, Professor at the Liège University; Daria Balandina, representative of the Russian Language Department at Mons University; Daniil Bisslinger, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Council of Young Diplomats; Daria Sharova, Head of the Department for Public Forums at Rossotrudnichestvo.

During the Creative Program, the participants were able to develop skills of intercultural communications, international negotiations and journalism; they were introduced to culinary diplomacy, Russian and European patterns; ‘"learnetRussian in an hour"; got acquainted with the language characteristics in the digital space; and mastered acting skills. Experts included well-known figures of science and culture, journalists, and entrepreneurs, such as Marina Lebedeva, Professor at MGIMO and author of many papers on international relations and negotiations; Leonid Mlechin, historical writer and TV presenter; Leonid Gelibterman, President of the International Ethnogastronomy Centre, Vice President of the Federation of Restaurateurs and Hoteliers of Russia for International Relations and Gastronomic Tourism; Denis Dubrovin, TASS correspondent; Tatyana Kochnova, young fashion designer from St. Petersburg; Veronika Andrikhova, Art Director of the "Details" School of Design; teachers of Moscow State Linguistic University, and many others.

The event ended with a wonderful concert - a completely new format for the Russian Centre for Science and Culture. Using the voice of Alena Minulina, Tavrida-ART participant, author of music and songs, Russian champion in Live Looping voice, beatbox and electronics created ambient compositions and weaved them into their DJ sets. Belgian SupaFly Band performed jazz and soul compositions. Andrey Shevchuk prepared a surprise: the attendees of his master class sang "Moscow Nights" in three languages: Russian, French and English. Also, during the evening party, Anna Godard was congratulated with the 30th anniversary of her professional activities in teaching the Russian language. After that, a delicious buffet dinner with pancakes, Russian salads, dressed herring and many other treats awaited everyone.