I have just returned from the XXth anniversary meeting of the Moscow School of Political Studies at Golitsyno.
This incredible venture began 21 years ago over a memorable dinner at the home of the School's Director, Lena Nemirovskaya, given for the then Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Catherine Lalumière. I was fortunate enough to be there too!
The Moscow School of Political Studies (MSPS) is a non-political, non-profit making, non-governmental organisation. Its purpose is to foster the development of a civil society in Russia based on the rule of law.
Since its inception in 1992 the MSPS has grown and over 20 years has involved more than 15 000 people in its activities in Moscow and as far afield as Kaliningrad and Vladivostok.
The MSPS has also been a model and an inspiration for other schools even if each is tailored to the needs and specificities of individual countries. Today they represent a network of 19 schools including 2 in North Africa operating under the aegis of the Council of Europe.
Last week's Moscow meeting on the theme of power, politics and people through the prism of the arts, the media, institutions, economics, morality etc. included speakers such as Elena Nemirovskaya, Ralph Fiennes, Alexander Sogomonov, Lord (Robert) Skidelsky, Catherine Lalumière, Alvaro Gil-Robles and, in the background, Coriolanus, Ivan the Terrible and the Merchant of Venice!
Congratulations to the Moscow School on 20 years of uninterrupted activity as its motto says, " to promote civil enlightenment for civil society", or in other words to promote the fundamental values of a democratic society.
Congratulations to Lena Nemirovskaya who, by dint of her enthusiasm and her determination, has made all this possible.
In common with the other 18 schools the MSPS is introducing Russia's younger generation to European values, pluralistic ideas and new ways of thinking in order to consolidate the country's emerging democratic society.
In these uncertain times, Lena Nemirovskaya and her School need the strongest possible political, financial and diplomatic support to be able to continue this remarkable work for another 20 years!