21 november 2020 Online
In Search of Lost Universalism
6th International Forum 
in Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations




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Two things are important in life – purpose and meaning; however, citizenship and public welfare simply provide the necessary conditions for them. If one thinks about this properly, a modern civic society isn't the worst place we can live our lives in, as long as the will to improve our way of life has not been extinguished.
Ralf Dahrendorf



In search of lost universalism is a major civic Forum which starts from the presumption that there are many cultures – but one civilisation based on human rights, freedom, the rule of law and democracy. That civilisation needs to be constantly refreshed by conscious action and projects. 

After the devastation caused by the Second World War, important new international organizations were founded, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the World Council of Churches, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, etc. A universal perception of justice emerged, reflected in key international documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Social Charter, and the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Citizens in Europe and around the world were empowered by this universal energy and the civic spirit became embodied in the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which laid the foundation in 1957 for the Pugwash movement. The Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs is still active today as a forum for scientists working for peace. The Manifesto also led to the Non-Aligned Movement (1961) and to the formation in 1968 of the Club of Rome, also concerned with global problems. The same ethos underpins the Helsinki Final Act at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (1975), the signing of the Maastricht Treaty (1992), and the establishment of the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights in 1999. 

The same spirit is behind the civic Forum In search of lost universalism. Organised by the Council of Europe at the initiative of the founders of the Moscow School of Political Studies, Lena Nemirovskaya and Yury Senokossov, the Forum is supported by important European institutions and think tanks. 

The Forum brings together leading cultural figures, experts, representatives of European think tanks, and international journalists to address key democratic challenges facing Europe today and suggest ways to promote solidarity among young people to combat the current crisis.

The Forum marks the beginning of a mission: to spread the ideals of civic society, the practice of discussing and teaching them, and to promote what Jean Monnet called “a civilized state of mind”. 

The Forum is designed to rejuvenate the spirit of global civics and to support global civic education. 
We invite you to be part of that project.



Foreword to Yury Senosokov’s book by Catherine Lalumière, Secretary General of the Council of Europe in 1989-1994

In 1989 Europe experienced a huge political shock with the fall of the Berlin Wall, an historic event which changed the the lives of Europeans and the face of the world.

It was then, with remarkable foresight, that Lena Nemirovskaya and her husband Yury Senokosov had the idea of setting up a School of Political Studies in Moscow which would later lead to the creation of some 20 similar schools in other countries

At the time I was Secretary General of the Council of Europe and I backed this initiative enthusiastically. The Berlin Wall had fallen because of the failure of the political systems of the Eastern Block, the failure of communism and dictatorship of the proletariat as well as the failure of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Pluralist democracy based on respect for human rights and freedoms had seemingly triumphed.

A majority of people in the Eastern Block and their new leaders were in favour of making this radical change. One of the first signs was Mikhail Gorbatchev’s visit to the Council of Europe and his concept of a common European home.

In the West, our leaders welcomed these revolutions and were even ready to take these newcomers in.

For my part, I spared no effort to make the Council of Europe pursue that course. Hence my enthusiastic support for the idea propounded by Lena Nemirovskaya who, to my great joy, had become a real friend

But obviously the question which came to mind was how to achieve this radical paradigm shift successfully?

To this day there are intellectuals and politicians who question whether such a profound change can be achieved in a population with such a long history of ideology and political systems so incompatible with these new values. These are questions which Yury Senokosov’s book sets out to answer so skilfully.

I, for my part, just want to underscore one point: the need for education to achieve a successful transition and consequently the great value of the Schools of Political Studies.

I don’t believe you are born a democrat or a humanist, but you can become one through education, training and thinking and that is why the Schools of Political Studies are so useful.

Ignorance is the greatest enemy of democratic and humanist values. Ignorance of history, geography, philosophy, theology, etc.

Left to one’s own devices human beings would no doubt become, in the words of the old adage, “a wolf to man”. Knowledge and thought are able to transform the “wolf” into a citizen who respects other people and human rights.

Some have argued and continue to argue that these values are not universal and that it is neither desirable nor possible to impose them on a population that has known nothing other than diametrically opposed values.

Initially, in spite of these concerns we had some undeniable successes in countries of Eastern Europe and the European family appeared to be united in the Council of Europe on a bedrock of shared universal values.

But today there are a growing number of dissenters in countries such as Hungary, Poland, Russia....... One of the arguments they use is that these values, contrary to what humanist democrats maintain, are neither universal nor consonant with the aspirations of their fellow citizens whom, they claim, remain wedded to more authoritarian political systems.

This question is at the heart Yury Senokosov’s book, and I have often asked myself the same thing only to reach the following conclusion: yes, it is both desirable and beneficial to preserve and even to promote diversity, for instance in areas such as the fine arts, folklore or other branches of culture for which diversity is a precious asset which it would be highly regrettable and often impossible to destroy.

But when it comes to fundamental philosophical or theological values which affect both humanity as a whole and all of us as individuals, diversity is no longer appropriate and we need to speak about universality.

As human beings we all have our dignity and whatever the forms political systems may take there is a hard core of basic values which must or which ought to be respected

That is why we speak about universality. Countries can choose different political systems. But while such differences are completely understandable and normal they must respect essential values.

Unfortunately in today’s world, including Europe, we are witnessing a resurgence of authoritarianism in too many countries. This risks turning into the totalitarianism which brought Europeans such terrible suffering in the XXth century. Racism, xenophobia and extreme nationalism are cropping up all over the place. We must make young people aware of the harm these concepts have wreaked throughout history.

There can be no doubting that the Schools of Political Studies, and of course the Moscow School which paved the way 30 years ago, still have a major role to play.

Catherine Lalumière
Secretary General of the Council of Europe in 1989-1994


Saturday, 21 November
11am - 4.45pm Moscow time (

11.00 - 11.15     Opening session: 
                          Lena Nemirovskaya;
                          Matjaž Gruden;

                          John Lloyd

11.15 - 11.30     Address by Dr. Lars Hänsel, Head of  
                          Department Europe/North America
                          of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

11.30 - 11.45     Message of the Forum by Yury Senokosov 

11.45 - 12.00     Address by Thomas Bagger  

12.00 - 12.30     The main global challenges before and  
                          after 2020

                          Sergei Guriev 

12.30 - 13.30     Break

13.30 - 15.00     Panel: The United Nations at 75.
                          Multilateralism and the Future
                          of Global Governance

                          Moderator: Bobo Lo

                          Ambassador Francis M. O’Donnell;
                          Laila Bokhari;  
                          Mikhail Minakov;
                          Lolita Čigāne

15.00 - 15.30    Break  

15.30 - 16.30    Talk to Ian Buruma 
                         Moderator: Bobo Lo

16.30 - 16.45    Closing remarks
                         Vladimir Ryzhkov
Lena Nemirovskaya


Please register here. Registered participants will have access to simultaneous translation (working languages English and Russian), as well as the opportunity to submit your question in advance.  


Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Sapere aude! "Have the courage to use your own understanding", is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.
Immanuel Kant "What Is Enlightenment?"
Lena Nemirovskaya

Founder, Moscow School of Civic Education; Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; Officer of the French National Order of Merit; Officer of the Medal Bene Merito of the Republic of Poland; Chevalier of the Order of Merit of the Republic of France

Yury Senokosov

Founder and Director of publishing programs, Moscow School of Civic Education. Worked for the Main Library of Social Sciences, Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Questions of Philosophy magazine, published a series of books under the title From the history of Russian philosophical thought. Editor-in-chief to Obschaya Tetrad quarterly journal.

Hakan Altinay

President of the Global Civics Academy, author of the book Global Civics. Responsibilities and Rights in an Interdependent World, Director of the European School of Politics in Istanbul.

Alexander Arkhangelsky

Cultural commentator, Observer; Novelist; Journalist; TV-anchor; Tenured Professor and Member of the Academic Council at the Higher School of Economy in Moscow

Thomas Bagger

Diplomatic Adviser, Office of the Federal President of Germany

Guri Bang

Research Director, Center for International Climate Research (CICERO)

Torbjorn Becker

Director, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics

Laila Bokhari

Diplomat; Politician & Academic; Board Member, Human Rights House Foundation; Former Deputy Minister/State Secretary, Office of the Norwegian Foreign Minister and Office of the Prime Minister of Norway

Pilar Bonet

Correspondent, El País

Irina Borogan

Investigative Journalist, Author, Co-founder and Editor of the Agentura.Ru web site; Author of books (with Andrey Soldatov) New patriot games. How secret services have been changing their skin, PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB, The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries

Ian Buruma

Writer; Editor; Contributor, Project Syndicate

Christopher Coker
United Kingdom

Director, IDEAS Department of International Relations, London School of Economics; Author of books The Future of War: The Re-Enchantment of War in the Twenty-First Century, Humane Warfare, Twilight Of The West, and many others

Lolita Čigāne

International Consultant & Domestic Political Activist, Expert, OSCE/ODIHR

Daniel Dettling

CEO, Berlinpolis Politik fur morgen

Atje Drexler

Head of Department of International Relations Europe and its Neighbours, Robert Bosch Stiftung

Vitaly Dymarsky

Lead editor, Echo of Petersburg

Konstantin von Eggert

Columnist, Deutsche Welle

Nikolay Epple

Memorial Culture Researcher

Fredrik Erixon

Columnist, Deutsche Welle

Mikhail Fishman

Journalist, Author, Producer, the film The Man Who Was Too Free (2016)

Floriana Fossato
United Kingdom

Journalist; Media critic; Researcher, University College London

Svetlana Gannushkina

Mathematician, Human Rights Activist; Founder, group Grazhdanskoe Sodeistvie

Alvaro Gil-Robles

President, Foundation Valsaín, Commissioner for Human Rights of Council of Europe (1999 to 2006)

Thomas Gomart

Director, French Institute of International Relations (IFRI)

Matjaž Gruden
Council of Europe

Director of Political Planning, Council of Europe

Lev Gudkov

Director, Levada-Center

Olga Gulina

Director and Founder, Institute on Migration Policy

Sergei Guriev

Economist; Professor of Economics, Instituts d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po), Paris

Jack Hanning
Council of Europe

Secretary - General of the European Association of Schools of Political Studies

Dr. Lars Hänsel

Head of Department Europe/North America of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Vladislav Inozemtsev

Economist, political writer, director at the Centre for Post-Industrial Studies, author of books The lost decade and many others

Thorbjørn Jagland
Council of Europe

Secretary General, Council of Europe

Vytis Jurkonis

Lecturer, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

Riina Kaljurand

Policy Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia

Sylvie Kauffmann

Journalist, Editorial Director, Le Monde

Andrey Kolesnikov

Senior Associate and Chair, Russian Domestic Politics and Political Institutions Program, Carnegie Moscow Centre; Journalist; Author of books Unknown Chubais, Speechwriters and others

Ivan Krastev

Chairman, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia; Permanent fellow, IWM Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna, Author of books Democracy Disrupted: The Politics of Global Protest, In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Dont Trust Our Leaders?, The Anti-American Century, and many others

Sergei Lagodinsky

Head of the EU/North America Department, Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin

Catherine Lalumière

Secretary General, Council of Europe (1989 to 1994); Member, European Parliament (1994–2004); President, Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe

Norbert Lammert

Chairman, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Sonja Licht

Founder and president, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence

Kadri Liik

Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations

John Lloyd
United Kingdom

Contributing Editor, The Financial Times

Bobo Lo
United Kingdom

Independent analyst, Associate Fellow with IFRI, Non-Resident Fellow with the Lowy Institute

Ambassador Fredrik Löjdquist

Department for European Security Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Fedor Lukianov

Editor-in-Chief, Russia in Global Affairs; Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy; Research Director, Valdai International Discussion Club

Stefan Melle

Director, German-Russian Exchange

Michael Mertes

Political Advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1987 - 1998), Author of books In Search of Germany, German Questions – European Answers, and others

Anatoly Mikhailov

President, European Humanities University

Mikhail Minakov

Senior Fellow, Kennan Institute; Editor-in-Chief, Kennan Focus Ukraine ; Editor-in-Chief, Ideology and Politics Journal; Editor-in-Chief , Koine 

Nils Muižnieks
Council of Europe

Human Rights Activist, Political Scientist, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe (2012–2018); President, Association of the Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe

Natalie Nougayrède
United Kingdom

Editorial Board Member and Columnist, The Guardian

René Nyberg

Head of the East Office of Finnish Industries; Ambassador of Finland to Russia (2000–2004)

Ambassador Francis M. O’Donnell

Life Member, Institute of International and European Affairs; former SMOM (Sovereign Military Order of Malta) Ambassador and UN Representative (ret.)

Indra Øverland

Head, Energy Programme, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI); Research Professor, University of Nordland

Emil Pain

Director general, Center of Ethno-Political and Regional Research

Elena Panfilova

Chairperson, Centre for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative Transparency International, the Russian chapter of Transparency International; Director, Transparency International

Quentin Peel
United Kingdom

Long time editor and correspondent at The Financial Times, Mercator Senior Fellow, Europe Programme, Chatham House

Nikolay Petrov

Political Analyst; Director, Centre for Political and Geographical Studies; Co-author of books Russia in 2020: Scenarios for the Future, Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform, The State of Russia: What Comes Next?

Ruprecht Polenz

Member of German Bundestag; Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (2005 to 2013)

Marco Politi

Author, Vatican Analyst

Diana Pinto

Historian, writer, author of the book Between two worlds

Dr. Hans-Gert Pöttering

President, European Parliament (2007– 2009), Chairman, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

Pernille Rieker

Research Professor, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

Kirill Rogov

Political Analyst Scientist; Academic Secretary, Member of the Editorial Committee, The New Model of Economic Growth Group; Columnist at Vedomisti daily business newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, RBC, Suddeutsche Zeitung and The Financial Times

Jesper Roine

Associate Professor, Stockholm School of Economics

Yuri Romanenkov

Executive Vice President, Development and Business Administration; Faculty Member, the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga

Jacek Rostowski

Economist, Politician, Academic, Former Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland

Vladimir Ryzhkov

Politician; Historian

Irina Scherbakova

Head of the Educational Programs of the International Society Memorial

Jutta Scherrer

Historian, author, professor of Russian History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Lev Schlossberg

Chairman of the Pskov regional branch, Member of the Federal Political Committee of the Political Party Yabloko; Deputy, Pskov Regional Assembly; Human Rights Activist

Roman Shleinov

Regional editor, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

Lord Robert Skidelsky
United Kingdom

MP; Emeritus Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick; Author of the Biography of John Maynard Keynes; Member of the British Academy

Daniel Smilov

Programme Director, Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia

Alexander Sogomonov

Leading research fellow, Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences

Michael Sohlman

Chairman, Swedish Institute for Foreign Policy; Member, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Executive director, Nobel Foundation (1992 to 2011)

Andrey Soldatov

Investigative Journalist; Russian Secret Service Expert; Co-Founder and Editor of the Agentura.Ru web site; Author of books (with Irina Borogan) New patriot games. How secret services have been changing their skin, PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB, The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia's Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries

Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Despina Syrri

Director, Civic School of Political Studies, Tessaloniki

Andrzej Szeptycki

Associate Professor, Section of European Integration, Institute of international relations, University of Warsaw

Yulia Taratuta

Editor–in–Chief, Wonderzine

Sylke Tempel

Editor in chief, Internationale Politik

Maxim Trudolyubov

Author and Chief Editor, The Russia File, Kennan Institute; Columnist, The New York Times

Denis Volkov

Deputy director, Levada Center (Moscow)

Barbara von Ow-Freytag

Advisor on International Relations, Advocacy and Media, Prague Civil Society Centre

Rüdiger von Fritsch

Ambassador of Germany to the Russian Federation

Dr. Gerhard Wahlers

Deputy Secretary-General and Head, the European and International Cooperation Department of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

Andrey Zakharov

Editor, Neprikosnovennyi Zapas: Debates on Politics and Culture magazine

Vasily Zharkov

Program Director, Head of the International Politics Master’s Program, The Moscow School of Social and Economic Studies

Elena Zhemkova

Executive Director, Memorial human rights and humanitarian society

Opening session: Lena Nemirovskaya
Address by Catherine Lalumièrre
Address by John Lloyd
Address by Thomas Bagger
Address by Dr. Gerhard Wahlers
Panel I: International organizations
Konstantin von Eggert, Ambassador Löjdquist, Elena Panflova
Moderator: Mikhail Fishman
Panel II: Media and Politics
Riina Kaljurand, Sylvie Kauffmann, Pilar Bonet, Natalie Nougayrède,
Kadri Liik
Moderator: Bobo Lo
Panel III: Economy and Global Space
Torbjörn Becker, Fredrik Erixon, Yuri Romanenkov
Moderator: Mikhail Fishman
Panel IV: Why Do We Need Global European Space?
Bobo Lo, Mikhail Minakov, Vytis Jurkonis, Michael Sohlman,
Pernille Rieker
Moderator: Mikhail Fishman
Message of the forum
Yury Senokosov, Marco Politi
Closing remarks
Jack Hanning, Lena Nemirovskaya



Par: Sylvie Kauffmann|LE MONDE | 31.10.2015 à 10h58 • Mis à jour le 31.10.2015 à 10h59

It is no longer the East versus the West. It is no longer the North versus the South. The cleavage, which fractures Europe today, contraposes universalism and self-isolation. History, the end of which American political scientist Francis Fukuyama, inebriated by the end of the Cold War, announced some twenty years ago, has since then restarted. Universalism is again in danger: the Russians tell you that — and they know full well what they are talking about.

To communicate this message to their European friends these particular Russians had to leave their country. The Germans – them again ! – have extended them welcome. It is the Russians, in a sudden turn of events, who are imploring the West not to give up on the heritage of the Enlightenment.

This episode, so revealing of a somewhat disoriented Europe, has unfolded this week in Berlin, at the premises of Robert Bosch Foundation. In the spirit of philanthropy and political non-engagement the Foundation hosted, for two days, a seminar of the Moscow School of Civic Education. Why Berlin and not Moscow? To understand this one has to retrace the time to 1992, to the kitchen of a Moscow apartment.

In Russia many ideas were born exactly in these small rooms where people tried to evade the omnipresent state by gathering around a kitchen table and debating without end. Towards the end of the Soviet era the kitchen of well-established Moscow intellectuals Lena Nemirovskaya and Yuri Senokossov swarmed with people. Today Lena, an art historian, and her husband Yuri, who is a philosopher, lament that the new Russian elites are utterly devoid of democratic culture. While the Russian state, heir to the USSR, is ill-suited to disseminate it.

Thus developed the idea of an NGO whose purpose it was to organize seminars in the interest of young decision makers, to familiarize them with the basics of a liberal society. Or, to offer « enlightened civic education to the civil society », said Lena Nemirovskaya. Moscow School of Political Studies saw the light of day in 1993, under President Yeltsin. To date some 20 000 young professionals from Russia's regions have passed through its seminars.


Financing arrived from those who believed in the usefulness of the mission: the indispensable George Soros, the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovski (before he was thrown into prison), then the Council of Europe, of which Russia at the time was not yet a member. Many European governments have also shown generosity to the project. It ended in 2012, when President Putin demanded that all NGOs receiving financing from abroad be registered as « foreign agents ». In December of 2014 the School of Political Studies, renamed by the time into the Moscow School of Civic Education, fell into the list of « foreign agents ».

Operating in Russia under such conditions became rather difficult; most foreign NGOs have folded. However the Moscow School served as a model; starting from 2005, under the guidance of the Council of Europe a network of some twenty kindred Schools of political studies has emerged, from Belarus in the North to Tunisia in the South.

Lena Nemirovskaya resolved to stay firm in her mission of civic education of the Russians. And so with the aid of the Council of Europe, and institutions like the Bosch Foundation, the Institute of Humanities of Vienna or the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs the school has continued with its assemblies abroad. In Tbilisi, in Berlin, in Oxford... The students, necessarily, are less numerous. But the school still keeps up the flame.


The paradox today is that this flame may also weaken outside of the post-Soviet space: it wavers exactly in those liberal democracies, which inspired the Moscow School twenty years ago. Thus the ideas of Enlightenment acquire sudden urgency. In Berlin all participants without exception, from East and West, North and South expressed the same concern.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister who walked from his neighbourhood office to open the conference, talked of optimism, albeit in the past tense: the optimism « we were full of » twenty years ago, which has survived « the horror of the Balkan wars », but is no longer the order of the day. « Today the European order is put in question », the chief of German diplomacy expressed his concern. « More than a political crisis, annexation of the Crimea is a violation of international law and dangerous precedent. »

Catherine Lalumière, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe posited the retreat of « the humanist philosophy » in the face of « gradual, surreptitious emergence of a different political philosophy ». The spirit of openness, which lay basis for the European project, is menaced by « the spirit of secretiveness, isolationism, egotism and absence of solidarity ».

A Russian participant expressed the idea that the standoff is no longer between two systems of values, but « between a system of values and absence of values ». It is between politicians who accept the rules and those who reject the rules, whichever the country. Another participant said he did not understand how the EU, a community of 500 million people, could possibly fail to accomodate 1 million refugees. A French public figure seemed to echo this in two days, expressing an anxiety for Europe, where « Germany that wished, in an act of generosity, to wash off the XXth century is trapped again by the demons of the XXth century ».

« I do not believe the world is as gloomy as you describe, mused ironically Solomon Guinzbourg, a local Russian MP: I think it is far worse. » It is a world that menaces « to put us back into our kitchens, thirty years later », added a Ukrainian university professor, Mikhail Minakov.

Journaliste au Monde


Por: Pilar Bonet | 05.11.2015

La Escuela de Estudios Políticos de Moscú (EEPM) ha comenzado una nueva etapa en Berlín.
Fundada en 1992 por la historiadora de arte Lena Nemiróvskaya, y su esposo, el filósofo Yuri Senokósov, la escuela fue una ampliación de la cocina de la pareja, escenario de animados debates entre interlocutores de muy diversas culturas y procedencias. La fórmula de la EEPM ha sido adoptada por 21 instituciones que integran la Asociación de Escuelas de Estudios Políticos del Consejo de Europa. Hay escuelas en Ucrania, Bielorrusia, Grecia, Serbia, Croacia, Turquía e incluso Marruecos y Túnez, entre otros países, pero las fisuras crecientes en la gran Europa amenazan los vínculos entre ellas. De ahí que "la búsqueda del universalismo perdido" (como oposición a los retornos a las tribus) fuera el lema el seminario celebrado en Berlín el 28 y el 29 de octubre en la sede de la fundación Robert Bosch con la participación de más de 160 personas procedentes de Rusia y de otros países europeos.

Desde 1992 la EEPM ha promovido la sociedad civil y el espíritu crítico, y ha sido un foro de diálogo entre políticos e intelectuales extranjeros y rusos. Por los seminarios que se celebraban Rusia y en el extranjero han pasado centenares de jóvenes de los Estados de la ex URSS, muchos de los cuales llegaron a puestos de gran responsabilidad.

Financiada sobre todo por becas occidentales y filántropos como George Soros, la escuela fue obligada a identificarse "agente extranjero" de acuerdo con la nueva legislación para Organizaciones no Gubernamentales aprobada en 2012. La etiqueta "agente extranjero", que evoca el vocabulario de la época estalinista, es asociada con espionaje o actividades hostiles por el ciudadano de a pie en Rusia. Atendiendo a las recomendaciones disuasivas de los servicios de seguridad, las élites de provincias, que antes acogían con curiosidad e interés a la EEPM, pasaron a temer el contacto con la escuela y con sus expertos internacionales, a menudo reconocidas autoridades académicas, como por ejemplo Robert Skydelsky el biógrafo de Jon Manard Keynes.

Sin empresarios rusos que se atrevan a financiarla y reacia a aceptar la etiqueta de "agente extranjero", la EEPM clausuró en diciembre de 2014 sus actividades en Rusia, pero mantiene sus seminarios en el extranjero. El desafío con el que se enfrenta hoy es el de constituirse en uno de los pilares de esa necesaria "red de seguridad" cuya misión es asegurar el flujo de contactos e ideas en el interior de la gran Europa, ahora que ésta se ve sacudida por diversas crisis, que en conjunto abocan a una gran crisis global. En la UE, el rechazo a los refugiados crea un conflicto entre los intereses y los valores proclamados por el Consejo de Europa. En Rusia, los dirigentes justifican el autoritarismo y la trasgresión de las reglas con construcciones artificiales y arcaicas. La amenaza en ambas partes es el "otro", lo que en Rusia significa las ideas que socavan el orden político y, en la UE, los emigrantes que socavan el orden económico y social.

"El encuentro es muy oportuno" porque "el mundo está atravesando una época de gran turbulencia y naciones enteras al igual que individuos están a menudo desorientados e incluso Europa parece estar perdiendo sus puntos de referencia, sus valores", dijo en Berlín Catherine Lalumière, ex secretaria general del Consejo de Europa y presidenta de la Asociación de Escuelas de Estudios Políticos. Según Lalumière, el concepto de derechos humanos se ve torpedeado por el autoritarismo, el materialismo y el ultra nacionalismo, pese a ser un valor protegido por la ley e incorporado en las instituciones creadas después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

En su intervención, el Ministro de Exteriores de Alemania, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, comparó la situación actual con la época en la que fue fundada la EEPM, tras la caída del muro de Berlín y el fin de la Guerra Fría, cuando imperaba el optimismo sobre una Europa unida y libre pese a la guerra de los Balcanes. Quiso el ministro marcar un corte entre un antes y un después. "La "anexión de Crimea fue más que una crisis política, fue una trasgresión de la ley internacional y un precedente", dijo el jefe de la diplomacia alemana, quien, acto seguido, invitó a ir "más allá del monólogo recriminatorio" para poner las bases "que ayudarán a los políticos a negociar soluciones".

El politólogo búlgaro Iván Krastev llamó la atención sobre el cambio de perspectiva, desde la época en que la apertura y los contactos se vivían como positivos y el problema era como formalizar la globalización, y la actualidad, cuando el problema es cómo manejar la reacción negativa a la globalización. Los modelos cosmopolitas son percibidos como amenaza y no como oportunidad, señaló. Por su parte, Sonja Licht, de Serbia, dijo que la desigualdad en el mundo es mayor que nunca como resultado de las prácticas neoliberales que marginan los valores como la solidaridad. Las instituciones y los Estados carecen de estrategias sobre temas como los refugiados y el cambio climático, por lo cual la única respuesta es involucrar a los ciudadanos en una idea global de la ciudadanía, afirmó Licht. El problema, reconoció, es como pasar del "ciudadano ilustrado" a la "acción mediante la política".

A diferencia del Estado soviético, Rusia no se ofrece al mundo como un modelo alternativo, sino que entiende el poder de gran potencia como un poder "para transgredir las normas", afirmó Mijaíl Fishman, comentarista del canal de televisión ruso Dozhd. El líder ruso Vladímir Putin aspira a formar parte de una "troika de los transgresores de normas" junto con EEUU y China, opinó Bobo Lo, de Chatham House, en Londres. Según Lo, Putin está decidido a promover los intereses rusos por todos los medios y donde quiera que sea necesario. El escritor Alexandr Arjángelski quiso distinguir entre la Rusia política, que recurre al pasado para afirmarse, y la cultura rusa, que es europea y que está viva al margen del Estado, también en otros países de Europa. Mijaíl Minakov, de la Academia Kiev-Mogiliansk de Ucrania, insistió en que sólo la verdad permite luchar contra la propaganda, a lo que el politólogo ruso Andréi Kolésnikov, contestó que únicamente un lector muy preparado puede "encontrar la verdad en el ruido informativo". Nikolái Petrov, experto en regiones de la Escuela Superior de Economía de Moscú, abogó por la estrategia de las "pequeñas cosas" para construir una carcasa de sociedad civil.

El foro de Berlín fue una apuesta por la apertura y la educación para la ciudadanía. "Ha sido una iniciativa para lanzar un debate sobre el futuro, para repensar donde estamos y no solo lamentar la universalidad perdida", dijo Licht. Mientras los intelectuales debatían entre ellos en la capital alemana, en el continente continuaba la construcción de nuevos muros y a las barreras físicas se les unían nuevas fragmentaciones, la última el cese de las comunicaciones aéreas entre Ucrania y Rusia, una medida que multiplica la duración de trayecto entre los dos vecinos, pero sobre todo la distancia psicológica entre ellos.

We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
Marcel Proust
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