Interview of State Secretary - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Grigory B. Karasin for the magazine «Shire Krug», Moscow, October 24, 2012


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Question: After each World Congress of Compatriots a major decision is taken, such as on the proposals of last Congress the Fund of the defense and support of compatriots abroad was registered. Is something like that planned after the forthcoming congress?

Answer: First of all, dear Irina Nikolaevna, I will take the possibility, which is allowed to me, to pass cordial greetings to our compatriots abroad through the pages of your magazine.

Now about the Congress. The main objective of the upcoming St. Petersburg World Congress of Compatriots is to take the stock and identify landmarks of cooperation between Russia and Russian compatriots in the future. We are preparing a comprehensive analysis of the results of the work in all directions, trying to enter on the new effective way of the consolidation of the Russian world, the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of compatriots including using the capabilities of the newly established Fund of support and protection of the rights of compatriots living abroad mainly in neighboring countries. We will discuss the issues of increasing of the role and influence of the Russian community in the countries of residence, strengthening of the positions of the Russian language and culture, development of relations of communities with the historical homeland, creating of the conditions for a substantial increasing of the number of migrants to Russia, Russian education space expansion abroad, the greater focus on youth. As you can see, there are a lot of questions. Russian state authorities pay much attention to the problems of compatriots. I am sure that this will be reflected in St. Petersburg.

As for the promotion of new and exciting initiatives, there is a place in Congress for them, although in practice they do not have to be «tied» to it.

Question: How do you feel about the partial transfer of functions for the work with compatriots to Rossotrudnichestvo?

Answer: The issue of «redistribution» of enforcement powers for the work with compatriots between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Rossotrudnichestvo is on the agenda for quite a long time. In September of this year, it is decided to transfer part of powers to the Agency. In particular, this applies to the directions such as the protection of the Russian language, education and culture including the promotion of courses organization of teacher training of Russian specialists, ensuring of compatriot organizations with literature, promoting of theaters and art groups in their tour activities, the development of religious relations with compatriots, support of youth including the training in Russia. Actually it is about the issues, which are functionally similar to the themes of Rossotrudnichestvo as agency.

It is clear that the transfer of projects from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Agency will be accompanied by the introduction of changes to the legal and regulatory base of the Russian Government, which regulates the work in this direction. We believe that the resulting transfer in due course of these features will take time and be completed by 2014.

Question: Is it possible to influence on the speed of processing of the concept of «Russian schools abroad» by the Government?

Answer: By order of the President of Russia the Ministry of Education and Science and Rossotrudnichestvo work to prepare the concept of «Russian school abroad». The main emphasis is on how to develop a viable document that will be a real help to all our compatriots.

For our part, last year we discussed jointly the basic ideas of the concept during World Thematic Conference «On the status of the Russian language in foreign countries», in the work of which prominent representatives and experts from 91 countries of the world participated.

We understand that our compatriots abroad are looking forward to this document, but in such an important matter, it may be, we should not be too hasty. For compatriots, especially compatriots of the younger generation abroad, high quality document is important that will create conditions for the preservation of the Russian language in present condition and future generations of our countrymen.

Question: Do not you think that we are «losing» our children? Recently, there are many persons, who want to teach the children with the help of the Russian program or simply Russian language. Schools at the embassies are limited in their possibilities. And the enthusiasts are faced with a lack of material resources. As a result, either parents are asked exorbitant prices for the education, or school level is so low that the children are not gone there.

Answer: The question is valid. We will study the situation and try to improve it. As you know, in the schools at the Russian embassies abroad it is the free education of children living abroad with their parents assigned to the state institutions of Russia.

Children of other citizens of both Russia and foreign countries successfully passed the tests of core subjects can also be trained in the case of availability taking into consideration the financial situation of the parents and other circumstances.

In schools at Russian foreign institutions (RFI) there are all the conditions for quality education of students. RFI employees do not complain on the level of training and manual availability. Qualified teachers are sent to the schools from Russia, especially in core subjects such as Russian language and mathematics. I think that the problem is elsewhere. Flagship schools at RFI are opened mainly in the capitals, and not in all. This complicates the problem solving of training of those children, who live in the province, but wish to learn Russian.

I will add that more than 50 Russian centers of science and culture and 26 offices of Rossotrudnichestvo operating in 72 countries carry out the practical activities of the distribution of the Russian language abroad. Dozens of centers are established by fund «Russian world», hundreds of grants are allocated in these purposes. Modern textbooks, study guides, audio and video materials, literature in Russian are sent from Russia in many countries. Certainly, the problem of resources remains actual in the field of promotion of the Russian language abroad. In spite of some positive developments, the financial resources are quite limited. We will step up efforts in this direction: for these purposes there is the development of the concept of «Russian School Abroad», on which we have already mentioned.

I think that the family spirit, especially in mixed families, is important in the issue of the conservation of the native language. It's no secret that often in the families of Russian immigrants travelling to the West the parents deliberately act so that their children do not know the language of their ancestors, assimilate, and dissolve in the new environment. Here we see the vast problem for the Russian-speaking media, which could carry out the «offensive» work in our Diaspora saying that mother tongue knowledge enhances the life chances of children, makes them more competitive in the modern world, enriches their cultural and spiritual world.

Question: What means the «expansion of Russian-speaking educational space» abroad, which is indicated in the concept of the Congress?

Answer: The expansion of Russian-speaking educational space abroad is one of the main priorities of the upcoming World Congress.

Russian-speaking space is quite extensive - for about 170 million people it is native, and about 110 million speak it as a foreign language, so it takes the fourth place in the world. Russian language is the official and working language of the majority of international intergovernmental organizations, the member of which is Russia including the UN and its specialized agencies, the OSCE, SCO, etc.

One of the sections of the Congress is devoted to the preservation of the ethnic and cultural identity of the Russian community abroad. Within its framework, it is planned to discuss the problems of preserving and strengthening of the position of the Russian language and Russian-speaking education abroad taking into consideration currently developing two state concepts relating to Russia's support for the Russian language and Russian school abroad, as well as considering the contribution of the compatriots in the preservation and development of Russian culture abroad.

Rossotrudnichestvo and Fund «Russian world» act specifically in this field. In June of 2011, the federal program «Russian Language» on 2011-2015 was adopted. In 2011, June 6, which is the birthday of Alexander S. Pushkin, was announced the Day of Russian language by the Decree of the President.

Rich experience in the work of the support of the Russian language was gained by Russian foreign agencies. They are involved in the compilation of information on the status of the Russian language, support the contact with the departments of Russian Studies and Slavic Studies, Russian-speaking media, organizations of graduates of Russian universities and the Russian-speaking community, assist in the organization of the Russian language courses and activities aimed at promoting of the Russian language and literature.

Question: What can you say about the further structuring of country coordinating councils? They are all quite diverse, they are selected on various grounds, on different dates, and the result of this is confusion and controversy in the community. Maybe we need to elect the experts in the coordinating councils in such areas that are necessary to compatriots. The same approach should be during the election in the World Coordinating Council. People, who can bring real benefit, are thrown out of the World Coordination Council due to the need of the rotation.

Answer: We carefully relate to each of our compatriot. Thus the word «thrown out» is not from our vocabulary.

Issues of work improving of country councils are planned to address at the the section of World Congress devoted to the problems of consolidation and strengthening of ties between the Russian community abroad and historical homeland. In its course it is planned to analyze how the joint efforts can bring young compatriots to its work, improve electronic and print media of compatriots, and expand problems of development of partnership cooperation Russia-countrymen including the possibility of connectivity of compatriots to modernization process of our country.

Unlikely it is useful to unify the country coordinating councils. In the Russian world, I think, there is no need in vertical management scheme. Moreover, it is almost impossible. Active participation in the diaspora it is a voluntary decision of our compatriots. It should be based on flexible structures and methods. The main thing is to create a favorable atmosphere in and around the Russian diaspora abroad, increase contacts with their historical homeland, the land of their ancestors, preserving of the Russian language.

This work can be effectively carried out only on the basis of initiative, commitment of people involved in the work of associations of compatriots. There is a man, his interests and sympathies at the heart of any effort.

In each country there was a history of foundation and practice activity of the Russian-speaking communities. In general the concerns of our compatriots living in different countries and on different continents are similar. They are firmly united by the fact that these people, who speak and think in Russian, do not break the spiritual connection with their historical homeland. It is good that the vast majority of Russian communities developed a friendly working atmosphere.

Of course, it is disappointed, when we learn on the disputes and conflicts arising in them. But believe me we can't interfere in such internal turmoil from Moscow. These issues have yet to be resolved at the level of country and local communities. It's also the school of mutual respect.

As for the rotation in the World Coordinating Council of compatriots, from our point of view, this is a reasonable principle. Compatriots will understand that using the active participation in their communities they can earn the trust and get a real chance to be elected to the World Coordinating Council.

Question: Must the different structures working with compatriots solicit the opinions of coordinating councils? However, to achieve this, it is necessary to raise the prestige of the coordinating councils themselves.

Answer: As the various structures you, as I understand it, you keep in mind the various non-governmental organizations, media and creative teams that work with Russian compatriots abroad. I do not think that there is the need in hard linking of their actions with the Coordinating Councils. It is need to act so that the country coordinating council attracts and will be interesting for the Russian community abroad, and people turn to it for advice and help. There is an old Russian proverb: «Parish like a priest». Coordinating councils themselves have to work to gain the trust of people, not only compatriots, but also the local population. Decree will not introduce this.

Question: About the media. Our Russian-speaking media, which are published abroad, is need to go to the offensive position and cover political issues from the point of view of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. And not all do this because they are afraid of losing advertisers. We need to help financially to the loyal media. Do you agree?

Answer: Here I argue. In Russia, there is no question of completely loyal media, both domestic and foreign media. Unlikely it meets the standards of modern society. Demanding journalistic view of the events does not interfere the media to work successfully maintaining and expanding the circle of the admirers.

I agree with your statement of the issue on the help to Russian-speaking editions, which promote a positive image of our compatriots abroad, post the information about events taking place in Russia, thus contributing to the consolidation of the Russian-speaking community. Editions conducting such line are demanded. This reinforces the interest to them from the side of advertisers and people developing the cooperation with Russia.

As you know, we continue to lead an active information campaign aimed at the supporting of compatriots. Internet portal «Russian Century» was improved and upgraded significantly, release of specialized same name magazine is continued, as well as four regional magazines for compatriots («Baltic World», «Unity in Diversity», «Russian America» and your magazine «Shire Krug»). There is the subscription of organizations of compatriots on Russian periodical publications, as well as editions published in Russian language in the countries of residence of the compatriots.

Question: Also I think it is necessary to focus on the sites of coordinating councils, provide funds for the continued support of sites at the high professional level in order to it creates interesting and looked decent.

Answer: The funds are allocated on a regular basis on the creation and development of websites in dozens of countries, where there are the communities of Russian compatriots. Although these funds are small, they help to maintain the sites in good working status thus providing the information needs of compatriots in respect of country council work.

We will continue to take care of this direction of ​​work, help it in every possible way.

Question: Do you think it right that quotas for members of Congress and various conferences with the requirements to include the «offspring», the «young», etc. come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Maybe it is worthwhile to focus on utility, not on such formal criteria?

Answer: Every year we implement hundreds of events, which are different in the field of themes and format. In the world it is accepted to carry out the conferences and other forums basing on roughly the same criteria at individual selection of competent experts. Otherwise productive work is impossible.

With regard to young people, if we miss this direction, we will have no future. Besides that the conferences of the descendants of Great Russians are held less frequently - for ten years there were only two. I think it is our duty to pay tribute to our great ancestors, the people, who actually had no opportunity to visit their Motherland, homeland. These meetings are a living contact of the compatriots with the history of the Russian state, with its tragic twists. It is hard to overestimate the usefulness of such meetings for Russian communities abroad. In Russia, these meetings always get a great positive resonance, contribute to the formation of positive opinion on the people left the country in a difficult time, but remained spiritually faithful to it.

In short, this expands our circle that is fully consistent with the spirit and name of your esteemed journal, dear Irina Nikolaevna.

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