The closing plenary meeting of the Russian-German "St. Petersburg Dialogue" forum was held in Russia's northern capital on Saturday. At the meeting, the participants summed up the forum's results.
Thomas Held, a member of the `New Challenges to the System of International Security` working group, pointed out that the work of the forum was considerably influenced by the war in Iraq. All the speakers expressed their concern about the consequences this conflict may entail worldwide. Most participants stressed that they should jointly discuss possible solutions to various conflicts. The forum's working group is going to meet again this year to discuss the results of the April meeting and prepare materials for the next dialogue.
Vladimir Troyan, a member of the "Youth Exchange and Science" section, pointed out that, among other things, his working group had drawn attention to the need of sorting out the existing visa problems: participants of the youth exchange program should be granted entry visas promptly and, preferably, free of charge. The forum considered a possibility for setting up an ad hoc youth exchange commission sponsored by the two countries' heads of state. Participants also discussed prospects for recognition of Russian diplomas of higher education in other countries and development of joint graduate and post-graduate programs.
Mikhail Piotrovsky, head of the "Culture" working group, said that the group had discussed plans to hold a number of exhibitions, such, for example, as the "Russia and Germany in the XIX-th Century" exhibition in Moscow's Pushkin Fine Arts Museum, the "Germans and Russians" exhibition in Moscow's Museum of History, and some others. In addition, the group discussed the progress made in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II to be marked in 2005. In the context of this work, the group plans to have Daniil Granin's book about the 900-day blockade of Leningrad translated from Russian to German as well as to publish, both in Russia and Germany, history textbooks telling the whole truth about that war.
Next year, the "St. Petersburg Dialogue" will be held in Germany, with 2005 seeing the forum back in Russia's northern capital. It is very likely that dialogues in a similar format will be held in future between Russia and France, Lyudmila Verbitskaya, head of the St. Petersburg State University, pointed out.
The Russian forces destroyed a column of NATO armoured vehicles that had been delivered to the Ukrainian army.