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Campus inSaint Petersburg

Potential of International Cooperation

On the first meeting of HSE - Saint Petersburg French Club in a new season a very sensitive topic was discussed – the competition of the world-leading powers and the role of Russia in the Middle East conflict. The meeting was held in the French language with a simultaneous interpretation.

Aleksey Yankovskiy-Diakonov, a researcher from the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of Russian Academy of Science, co-lead of Russian-Iraqi complex expedition, and Igor Delanoe, historian, Deputy Director of the Franco-Russian centre "Observo» (Moscow) were invited as speakers at the meeting. Each speaker focused on particular aspects of Russian presence in Syria: Aleksey Yankovskiy-Diakonov focused on Russian “soft power”, while Igor Delanoe focused on military aspects of Russian participation in the Syrian conflict.

Aleksey Yankovskiy-Diakonov presented Russian archaeological projects, which now are being implemented in Syria and Iraq, to the guests of the club. He began with a brief description of heritage objects situated in these countries. The forced movement of those objects caused a negative reaction connected with an intervention of Western countries in the conflict resolution. Besides, he mentioned some problems with communication and with looting distribution. The speaker noted the need for cooperation with regional museums and the need for the development of educational initiatives for regional minorities: such an approach will facilitate the attitude of locals to international organizations.

Igor Delanoe focused on the special Role of Russia in the Syrian conflict. Our country is considered as a guarantee of peace and stability in Syria, it is able to influence actors’ behavior within and beyond the region. Active participation of Russia is explained by the incapability of the legitimate Syrian government to resolve the inner political conflict and to constrain geopolitical tension around its borders. The help of Russia mainly consists of military-technical cooperation and material-technical and financial support to the Syrian government. Igor Delanoe listed the problems that Russia should overcome: technological and industrial development, the impact of the USA sanctions, absence of complex strategy and inconsistency of actions in the sphere of "soft power".

After the speaker’s presentation, the guests of the club could ask their questions. In particular, they asked the speakers about the position of France about the Syrian question. General consul of France in Saint Petersburg, Hugo de Chavagnac, gave an extensive commentary about French “ni/ni” formula and he explained, which ideas guide the French government in terms of building relations with Syria.

Vera Ageeva, Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science and co-head of NRU HSE French Club took the meeting stocks. She pointed, that the topic of “hard power” was dominating over the aspect of “soft power” in Syria: this imbalance symbolically reflects the current situation in Syria and the Middle East as a whole. And, if the cooperation between the countries is always limited in ‘hard power’ questions, that is, military participation, there is a slightly used international cooperation potential in the “soft” power projects, where international cooperation is extremely important when it comes to the scale of heritage objects in Syria and Iraq.

In the new academic year, NRU HSE French Club prepares a lot of interesting meetings – it Is planned to discuss the questions of ecology, world energy, competition in the space, and traditions and new traditions of French diplomacy. Follow the announcements and join the events of the French club.