PARIS, April 24 (Itar-Tass) — Russia's Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) plans to open its offices in more than 100 countries by 2020. The agency's head Konstantin Kosachev who arrived in Paris on a working visit told Itar-Tass in an interview that the increase in the number of Russian cultural missions all over the world will go together with the quality improvement of their activities.
Kosachev recalled that in the 1990s Russia already had a successfully working network of foreign centres, however, this system was largely wound down due to economic troubles. "We simply lacked the money, strength and time for that. As a result, today we are by an order of magnitude behind other states in terms of the organisation and financing of activities of our centres abroad," he complained. "However, we are still trying to restore this system."
Rossotrudnichestvo is an autonomous federal government agency under the jurisdiction of the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The agency was set up by a presidential decree, signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 6 September 2008, with the aim of maintaining Russia’s influence in the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to foster friendly ties for the advancement of Russia’s political and economic interests in foreign states.
The Rossotrudnichestvo head said that the agency is working for just three and a half years, but already has offices in 73 countries. “We implement abroad a considerable number of different educational, cultural and humanitarian projects. But any large system is inert by definition - the results will not appear immediately,” added the agency head. “This work meant for a long period should be carried out on a permanent basis. Today, the state is already capable of providing financial support to this work.”
Kosachev, who is Russian President’s Special Envoy on Relations with the CIS member states, also noted that the work with the neighbouring countries, where 20 million Russian compatriots live, is a top priority for Rossotrudnichestvo. “The most important for these countries are the programs for the support of the Russian language we are implementing, cultural and educational programs that allow our compatriots not to lose spiritual ties with their homeland,” he explained. “However, the Russian-speaking Diaspora still has many humanitarian, social, legal problems in dealing with which they are counting on support from Russia.”
The agency’s near-term plans, Kosachev said, include the expansion of the network of its permanent missions abroad. “By 2020 we plan to have our representative offices in more than 100 countries around the world,” he said. “We hope that the quantity growth will go together with the qualitative content of our programs and projects, because Russia can show other people many things from its rich cultural and spiritual multinational world.”