The Elders and Russia’s role in international affairs

Six members of the Elders Group, led by Kofi Annan, took a three-day trip to Moscow to hold a series of private meetings with Russian officials and academics. It was their first visit to Russia as an organization. To conclude this historic trip they met President Putin in his residence in the vicinity of Moscow on April 29.

Vladimir Putin’s suburban residence Novo-Ogarevo has received a lot of important politicians. But visit of such distinguished guests is a great honor even for this house. The President was obviously pleased to receive them. The Elders noted that they are satisfied with the talks. They have discussed a broad range of issues pertaining to the situation in the Middle East and Eastern Ukraine as well as United Nations reform.

The Elders emphasized that the urgent implementation of the Minsk II agreement is now one of the most important steps to improve the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine. One of the major topics to discuss was the danger of extremism and terrorism in Syria and Iraq. They also agreed on the need for successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear talks with the “P5+1” (group of states – permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, including Russia). Moreover the Elders considered the reform of the UN Security Council – it should be more democratic and representative. Also, they call upon its permanent members to limit the use of the veto.

“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss Russia’s role in international affairs with the President. To be successful in defusing conflicts and building trust, high-level dialogue and effective action are essential” – Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General said.

The Elders also met with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov as well as the representatives of leading Moscow-based think tanks. They considered problems of the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis, strategic development of Central Asia, prospects for Russia-China relations. The former world leaders were interested in hearing about current social, economic and political situation.

The Elders Group

The Elders is an non-governmental organization of 12 recognized public figures – former statesmen, human rights activists and leaders of international organizations. They were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela and now chaired by Kofi Annan. They define themselves as an “independent organization dedicated to the pursuit of peace worldwide” and stand for universal human rights, global justice and a belief that “every individual can make a difference”. The Elders are engaged in private advocacy and work publicly in such areas as climate change, gender equality, United Nations reform and conflict resolution.

Those Elders who participated in the mission to Russia were: Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish President; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister; Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian Foreign Minister; Ernesto Zedillo, former Mexican President; Jimmy Carter, former US President and Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General.