Andreas Schockenhoff, Member of the German Bundestag, was today confirmed as Coordinator of German-Russian Intersocietal Cooperation by the Federal Cabinet. To mark the occasion, Schockenhoff issued the following statement today (24 March) in Berlin:
“Intersocietal cooperation with Russia is becoming an increasingly important part of overall German-Russian relations. By appointing a “Russia Coordinator” the German Government is underlining the significance of people-to-people contacts.
I look forward to continuing and developing this task. My concern is to foster partnerships between towns, cities and districts, exchange and youth programmes, and contacts between NGOs and other private initiatives. These links are the engine on a future-looking close relationship between Germans and Russians.
The modernization agenda with which President Medvedev wants to create a more open Russia brings new tasks for intersocietal cooperation with that country. For this reason I last year formulated 10 theses on German-Russian intersocietal cooperation, which I will refine and implement together with representatives of German and Russian civil society. The aim is modern, project-oriented cooperation.
To that end I will, together with the major German NGOs, set up a “Civil Society Forum Russia” in an effort to strengthen the work of the exchange organizations engaged in Russia. On the Russian side, I will continue the collaboration begun in 2009 with the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council and its Chair, Ms Ella Pamfilova. On 17 June 2010 Ms Pamfilova and I will hold a conference in Berlin, and in mid-October there will be a second conference with Russian participants in Moscow.
To enable broader school and youth exchange, I will work towards liberalizing visa requirements. I call on the Russian side to play its part by giving German-Russian youth exchange the necessary political and financial backing.
Intersocietal cooperation with Russia must also be enhanced at EU level. I will therefore, on 6 May, hold an expert round-table discussion on “EU-Russia – New Prospects for Intersocietal Cooperation”, in which EU Commission, Russian, Polish and French experts will take part.
To mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II, on 9 May, I will lay a wreath in a Soviet prisoner of war cemetery in Luckenwalde. This autumn, in St Petersburg, I will take part in a seminar with the “Memorial” human rights group on “remembrance culture” issues in Western and Eastern Europe”.