The Congress of Peoples of Russia, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Assembly of Peoples of Russia, has ended in Moscow. Vladimir Zorin, member of the presidential council on interethnic relations, discussed this organization and its ability to resolve interethnic issues in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.
- Who does this Assembly unite?
- It's a unique public organization that exists for 20 years. Only indifferent people are involved in its work, who are interested in ensuring that multinationality of our country will always be a source of innovations, development and strengthening of the country's authority, not troubles and unrest. There's no other example of such organization that would unite peoples, public organizations, individuals, legal entities, all the peoples that inhabit our country. Its position is always being considered by authorities, society, and national organizations. It's very important.
- What happened in formation of the Russian nation over the past 20 years? Did people's perception of the world change somehow?
- Everything has changed dramatically. 20 years ago, there was no concept of the Russian nation at all. The Assembly was one of the first to introduce this word into public, into its activities, into its slogans, events. Today this is a generally accepted term. The Assembly helped to promote it. Nations can't be formed by anyone's decree or order, they're formed by the will of people, through common trials, common victories. For example, remember the World Cup. How we all cheered for our team! What a sense of pride we felt. People gathered to watch TVs, at fan zones, at stadiums...
The Assembly's role is to form all-Russian civil unity. There would be no unity if we didn't support ethno-cultural development of peoples who inhabit our country. We have 193 different nations, big and small, but the Assembly treats everyone the same way, as our Constitution demands. Equality of all our peoples. And the Assembly represents all peoples - from Russians to indigenous peoples of the North Caucasus, Siberia and the Far East.
- What can be done to minimize ethnic conflicts?
- Problems and conflict situations existsed, exists and will continue to exist. That's just how society is. When there's a private property, there will always be a conflict of interests. The problem is not whether there are conflict situations, but whether we're able to resolve them, whether we can respond to them at early stage, whether we're able to prevent open clashes and protests, unauthorized street actions. Today there are no such conflicts in our country. But there are conflict situations that need to be addressed, and they're very different. Caucasus, for example, is very good at resolving conflict situations.
- The General Assembly of the Peoples of Eurasia was held this week in the framework of the Congress of Peoples of Russia. What kind of organization is that?
- The Assembly of Peoples of Russia was one of the initiators of creation of the Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia. The Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia is a movement of peoples, it's not a project of authorities. The General Assembly was attended by representatives of 30 countries, 70 subjects of the Russian Federation, and all of them decided to participate in it at their own will. They came to support humanitarian cooperation in the Eurasian space, economic cooperation, cultural cooperation and do everything possible to ensure that the entire Eurasia became a zone of peace, so that there would be no wars and conflicts here. This organization has noble goals. And I think that any citizen who isn't indifferent will participate in this movement.
- Do countries of the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan, for example, cooperate with this organization?
- Azerbaijan is an active partner of both Russia and our public organizations. I think we will constructively cooperate in the future. Azerbaijan is one of the most prominent, active states in the Eurasian space, which plays a very huge role both as a moderator and as a platform for dialogue in the Caucasus region. Azerbaijan's participation in the Assembly of Peoples of Eurasia has great perspectives.