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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks during a meeting with members of the Sochi Dialogue Russian-Austrian Public Forum’s core group, Vienna, August 25, 2021

1659-25-08-2021

Mr Leitl, friends,

We are pleased to see you, members of the Sochi Dialogue core group. We believe that the Sochi Dialogue participants’ efforts from the Austrian side and the Russian side deserve the highest praise. They help strengthen people-to-people and social ties between our countries.

Despite the pandemic-related restrictions, the forum has stepped up its activities rather than see them decline. We managed to develop and launch new creative and innovative interaction formats. This confirms that both sides are mutually and sincerely committed to continuing cooperation.

Over the past year, the Sochi Dialogue’s audience has expanded. The intensity and quality of discussions are quite high even online. They are attended by representatives of cultural, academic and business circles. A number of books on the history of Russia and Austria have been published.

We believe the fact that young people joined the forum last year is critically important. Students and graduate students were delighted to attend various lectures, workshops and webinars. A new bachelor's programme in Russian-Austrian studies has become available. Students and schoolchildren went aboard. They are participating with pleasure and interest in various online projects, such as e-sports tournaments.

We hope in-person contacts will resume soon. The first steps have been taken. I’m referring, primarily, to the conferences on genetics and climate change that were held at Sochi's Sirius Science and Art Park this summer as part of the Russian Year of Science and Technology. Prominent Russian and Austrian specialists took part in these events. We hope that, as planned, Salzburg will host a discussion between the regional leaders of our countries in September.

We are aware of its achievements, but the Sochi Dialogue has much more to offer. We consider it important to prioritise areas such as science, engineering and technology. Our researchers and representatives of our countries’ NGOs are participating in discussions and exchanging experience. We are interested in establishing these joint activities on an ongoing basis.

To reiterate, time-tested, friendly and mutually respectful relations between Russia and Austria benefit from the Sochi Dialogue activities. I will be delighted to exchange views today on how we can further support this important public gathering at the level of governments and state agencies.

 

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