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Home / Events / International Forum of Foreign Alumni of the Soviet and Russian HE institutions Moscow, May 14-16, 2003 /

The first plenary session



Moscow, May14, 2003

The floor is given to Xantopulos Panaiotis, alumnus of the Kuban Medical Institute, class of 1974, President of the Greek Alumni Association

Xantopulos Panaiotis

Xantopulos Panaiotis First of all, I should like to express my deep gratitude to the INCORVUZ-XXI for inviting me to participate in this Forum.
Secondly, I should like to note the success of this meeting attended by alumni from over 130 countries, among them academicians and bigger-caliber politicians then myself. I have thought that I am the only parliamentary candidate of the ruling party among the alumni, but it turns out that there are country presidents, ministers, et cetera among them…
I feel as if like all of us studied in one institute, lived in one dormitory, in one house. And it cannot be otherwise, because we have acquired Russian mentality, we are like-minded individuals. And when we occasionally meet somewhere in Europe or any other continent, we are very happy as if it were a meeting of brothers, regardless of our religious or political views.
I grew up in Kazakhstan where were had been exiled by Beria's regime. It was a multinational environment, we lived and grew up among people of different religions. And we judged people not their religious affiliations, but by their personal qualities. We would stand up for a Kazakh and Kazakhs would stand up for us. We ate from one spoon and sucked one mother's milk… And that was a true brotherhood.
That is why watching wars, first of all religious ones, scares me: the war in the Persian Gulf, the war in Yugoslavia and now again - the war in Iraq. It is also very painful and deplorable to see manifestations of terrorism today. We are happy, our life goes on and suddenly you realize that somebody is dying nearby. And all this for religious or political motives. This should be put an end to. And we can put an end to it, provided we become more aggressive in representing our governments in the political area as well.
I am a son of genocide. First we were exiled from the city of Trabizond - capital of the Pontic Empire, successor of the Pontic Kingdom which stretched from Sinope on the Black Sea to Batum. And it was a mighty one in its own time. The Empire fell in 1461 and the Turks themselves helped us to flee in order to avoid bigger bloodshed. Russia embraced, accepted and protected us. Later we dispersed to other countries. Some went to Greece in 1924 with several other Greece-bound waves to follow. The latest big one occurred after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
The Russian speaking constituency in Greece is now about half-million strong, and it is us who are the carries of the true Russian culture and language. But after 1990 the Russian language has disappeared in Greece. This is what we should think about! There is a need for a Russian language channel and not only in Greece. We must do our best to make it happen. Only then the great Russian language, the language of Pushkin, will again become the number 1 in the world.
The Association in Greece, founded in 1990, is over one thousand-strong. And one the Association's primary objectives is push for the recognition and equivalence of the diplomas of education, as we have been compelled, over the last 20 years, to go through a humiliating examination process. This means that we have to work toward recognition of our diplomas in Greece, recognition of the speciality, length of service, first of all, military and work record.
All this is possible provided bilateral ties between countries where there are our alumni are established - this is extremely important. However, recognition of diplomas is our top priority. Doctors' national associations, like the Greek one have no right to sling mud at the Russian HE institutions. Some say, that the medical schools here offer a four or five-years training course. But this is a flagrant lie! That's why I believe that it is high time the Russian embassies interfere in this 'fight' for our diplomas' standing.
We see that the quality of education in Russia has somewhat deteriorated today. People coming here have to deal with 'commerce-oriented' faculty members, to put it mildly. I won't hesitate to say that the quality of my alma mater's alumni - the Kuban Medical Institute - has dramatically worsened. I will not give any names, but there professors who - for a thousand dollars - will let a foreign student 'pass'… Yes, we must speak out and we should not hesitate to do it. In order to root this out we should unite, in my view.
A Lebanese friend of mine says that an organization, larger than alumni's regional associations, should be set up. I fully agree with him and propose to create a World Association of the Soviet and Russian HE institutions' alumni. But you can argue that there is the INCORVUZ. But the point is that the INCORVUZ is based here, this it the 'pinnacle' of our entire education here, in Russia.
And from now on, if we set up such an association, we, in our home countries, will know who has come and what his or her educational level is. The INCORVUZ cannot see who is who from here; it's impossible to monitor every student. But we will be able to monitor every alumnus, because you will be our 'eyes and ears'. And this is precisely then that we will become a compelling force vis-a-vis all governments. Moreover, we will be a compelling political and scientific force to be reckoned with in all continents. We will fight for the environment and human rights and against racial discrimination.

We will be able to raise all these issues. And I believe I could head such association at the initial stage.

The floor is given to Gurragchaa Zhugderdemediin, alumnus of the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy, class of 1977, President of the Union of the Mongolian Friendship Societies, first Mongolian cosmonaut, Minster for Defense of Mongolia.

Gurragchaa Zhugderdemediin

Gurragchaa ZhugderdemediinFirst of all, I should like to convey our greetings and best wishes to the leadership of the Russian Federation and the entire Russian people on behalf of the dozen thousands Mongolian several-generations-alumni of the Russian (Soviet) educational institutions. The same greetings go to the Forum's participants - Russian HE institutions' alumni from other countries.
One of the first Mongols to study and get educated in Soviet Russia was D. Natsagdorzh - the founder of modern Mongolian literature and the great enlightener of his time.

After the victory of the 1921 popular revolution, Mongolia needed literate and educated people to build a new life. Realizing this, the young Mongolian government turned to the government of Soviet Russia and asked it to train Mongolian national cadre. This request was granted and Mongolia sent the first - 15-strong group of young men and girls to Russia in 1922.
This was how the history of the Mongolian nationals' training in Russia started, and we celebrated its 80th anniversary last year.
Over 50 thousand Mongolian nationals have got their education and vocational training in the Russian (Soviet) educational institutions since then. Today, we are proud to say that there are many high-profile public and political figures, top-performing workers, best scientists and cultural figures in today's Mongolia among the Russian HE institutions' alumni.
The alumni of the Russian educational institutions account for about 50 percent of the entire engineering and technical workforce and over 60 percent of scholars. Mongolia's historic friendship with Russia and the CIS countries has - among other priceless fruits - enriched us with an army of diploma-holding experts trained in Russia. I am pleased to point out that young-generation experts are joining this army. We pride ourselves on this fact as we believe that this army is our national wealth, our country's 'gold' reserves.
The Mongolian alumni of the Russian educational institutions have been making a continued and invaluable contribution to the country's future progress and prosperity. They are in the front line, fighting for a democratic transformation of Mongolia.
Our alumni work in all corners of the country holding high positions in the central and local administrations, economic, scientific, educational and cultural organizations. They work both in the civil and defense areas. They have excellent knowledge of fundamental sciences and advanced technologies.
I'd like to emphasize, in this connection, that Russian education is held in high esteem in Mongolia. Mongolian experts have had broader opportunities to familiarize with the latest achievement of various countries since the policy of democratic transformations was launched in our country. They successfully harness today many world scientific and production technologies. And the availability of an army of national cadres - well trained in the Russian and other CIS countries' HE institutions - is one of the major factors here.
It is hard to overestimate the contribution of such a numerous constituency of highly-trained experts to the progress of Mongolia's economy, science, technology, culture and education.
We are honored and proud to be alumni of the Russian educational institutions!
Concrete actions of the Mongolian alumni have proved, over many years, the fundamental nature of Russian education - among the best in the world. We, Mongolian alumni, are living bearers of friendship with the peoples of Russia and the CIS countries. We value it, for it has stood the severe test of time. We are fully aware that the Russian diplomas of education we hold are a hallmark of high-quality education.
We want to express our sincere gratitude to the hundreds of our beloved an esteemed Russian professors who have become our role models and the standard for an educated and enlightened individual.
We are grateful to the thousands of Russian alumni, our class mates who always shared with us their joys and miseries, successes and failures, their bread and everything they had.
We, Mongolian alumni want to express our sincere gratitude to Russia and the CIS countries, to their peoples for their hospitality, spiritual generosity and consideration which we were showered with in our University days.

Dear friends!
The world is changing and we are changing together with it. But unchanged remain our most vivid and unforgettable recollections of our studies in Russia and the CIS countries which have become a milestone in our lives and shaped our fates.
Unchanged remain our love and respect for the peoples of Russia and the CIS countries, we want to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Russian professors and faculty of different generations, who have done so much to mold us not only as experts but individuals as well.
I wish this Forum a success and I wish all its participants and guests the best of health, happiness and new exciting meetings and impressions.

President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin took the floor a second time before the break

V. V. Putin

Dear friends!

Before you take a break, I want to congratulate you from all my heart once again. Congratulate with the event in progress today. Congratulate with the excellent participant constituency. And congratulate you with the festive and at the same time business-like mood reigning in this hall. This, in itself, means a lot. One can feel that the meeting will go smoothly and be useful.
You are appreciated in your countries; people are proud of you and expect good performance of you. And as I said at the beginning, we here, in Russia, are also proud of your success. But the attitude to you in Russia is different. Your friends' and professors' attitude is different, for the student constituency is like one big family. They love you like their own folks, you are always welcome guests here.

I wish you success!

Break

The floor is given to Victor Antonovich Sadovnichy, Chairman of the Russian Rectors' Union, Rector of the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences

V. A. Sadovnichy

Let my of behalf of the Russian Rectors' Union, comprised of over thousand rectors of Russia, on behalf of the Moscow State University to welcome you in the center of Russia, in the city of Moscow, among the professors and faculty members of the Russian HE institutions.

We are certainly proud of you, we are proud that we have managed, to a certain extent, to transfer our knowledge to you. We are proud that your diplomas and grade records bear the signatures of Russian rectors. This fills us with great pride!
We know that your grade transcripts feature our signatures - those of Russian professors. And I'd like to say that maybe, on occasion, we had to give unsatisfactory grades at exams. But believe me, we did so that you could achieve you current high positions in your countries and the world.
Our country, together with your countries has lived and is still living through the challenging time of transformations. This is truly a hard period in our country's development, but at the same time, this is the period when new values are being formed and the society's new potentialities are uncovered.
You are aware that a new system of independent states has replaced the economy and the social system of the Soviet Union, and a new national economy and public system of Russia has emerged. And all this could not but tell on our universities, our potential and our progress.
It should be clearly stated that our higher school has braved the challenging transformation period with our universities, academies and institutes continuing their progress.
We have managed to preserve the traditions of our national higher school, but, at the same time, we have sought to draw on the world experience as well. It is borne out by the high standing of our top universities, natural sciences, new specialties in humanities and a growing competition for HE institutions enrolment.
And even Western companies' head hunting for our graduates, the brain drain, as we say, shows that the Russian higher school is in demand across the world. However, this does not come easy.
I want to tell you frankly, that our society has witnessed continued heated discussions of the higher school development, attempts to destroy the foundations of the state system, neglect the traditions of the Soviet higher school which gave the world one of the best educational systems.
There are some radical reformers who have long raised the issue of our universities' privatization, of relinquishing the organizational principles of Russia's former educational system, specifically its accessibility to all talented individuals, and, most importantly, the fundamental nature of higher education.
We, rectors, appreciate the responsibility borne by our universities and other HE institutions. The country's future opportunities and it progress are driven by top-quality education. Should Russia's national education system be destroyed, Russia will be destroyed as an independent country, its potential for independent and prosperous development will be destroyed.
Education, in my view, is the critical line which we must not surrender. That is why the Russian Rectors' Union and the Moscow University have acted so uncompromisingly and persistently against any and all attempts to weaken the national educational system or underestimate the universities' role in society.
Why is it so? For the world has, by now, accumulated a huge volume of knowledge enabling to implement truly revolutionary technological solutions. And what follows from it? It follows that only cognition process may be the driver of progress.
This process is accessible only to highly educated society where labor is becoming increasingly intellectual. Hence, new - in terms of quality- objectives in education. This is the way the entire world and our universities perceive their responsibility in entering the new century and the new millennium.
We, like many of you, are grateful to President V. V. Putin for supporting our efforts. The Moscow University has recently hosted the 7th Congress of the Russian rectors where Vladimir Vladimirovich raised acute issues of the future of Russia's higher school.
His speech at the forum offered a very precise profile of the current status of the national higher school. Statehood, accessibility to all classes, its fundamental nature and internationalization - there are the principles Russia's entire higher education system has always been built and developed upon.
Statehood of higher education means its mission to provide the country with adequate numbers of well trained top - top quality experts. National cadre is a national security issue for every country.

Accessibility to all classes (Vsesoslovnost) is a fundamental moral norm of higher school. The entire history of school and higher education development in Russia is a history of the popular struggle -overall successful - for equal access to and equal opportunities for getting education by any of the country's citizens regardless of his/her property status or class.
The fundamental nature of higher education - means a fusion of scientific knowledge and educational process which instills in an educated person an understanding that we all live according to the laws of nature and society, and no one has the right to disregard them. Only fundamental and scientific education, which ultimately seeks to disseminate knowledge as an integral part of world culture, maybe the reference one.
Five percent of theoretical and twenty percent of applied knowledge gets updated annually. After the Americans appreciated it, they set up a national commission which analyzed the interrelation between modern science and education in the United States.
The Commission has drawn the following conclusion: America today, like 40 years ago after the launch of the first Soviet sputnik, is facing a challenge. According to forecasts, America's citizens may become helpless vis-a-vis the challenges of their time. And what is the reason? The Commission's answer is: the schoolchildren's, and consequently, experts' poor training in fundamental and natural sciences.
But this training has always been the hallmark of the Russian and Soviet educational system. And our mission is to preserve and promote it. Internationalization of education is not limited to setting guidelines in educational standards, it also means being open and offering training to students from other countries.
Russia should be higher school for friends from other countries, for you, our alumni, for your children and grandchildren. Russia's future lies with its talented pupils and students living in all its regions and abroad.
Russia has its own area where its potential students come from: the CIS, the South-East Asia, the Middle East, many countries of Europe and other continents. And we are ready to offer them education of the highest level.
If we manage to rationally organize, at the government level, our higher school's interaction with that of the above countries and regions, this will significantly enhance and expand Russia's participation in student and professor mobility both in Europe and the world for the benefit of all parties.
That's why the educational standard should not be impaired under any circumstances. Russia's higher school should reach out in all directions: to the West and the East. We should focus on strengthening and furthering educational ties, especially with the CIS countries, we have all the reasons and requisite potential to do so.

Esteemed friends! The Moscow University is a major world educational and research center today. With its current student constituency 40 thousand-strong, it boasts 27 departments. About 15 thousand foreign students graduated from it since 1949.
I am glad a big group of the Moscow University alumni is in this hall today. And I welcome you as a rector. We currently train fifty five hundred foreign students from 80 countries. We will welcome more students from these and other countries.
We will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Moscow University's founding on January 25, 2005. President of the Russian Federation has issued an Order On Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Founding of the Moscow University.
The Russian Federation Government has also issued an Order and a government Organizing Committee is set up. The jubilee program comprises about 800 items and events to be held both here and abroad. Our plans include a congress of the Moscow University alumni and we will be happy if some of you come to our alumni's congress. The forthcoming jubilee has already become an event for the entire country which demonstrates the historic role of the Moscow University as a major educational, research and cultural center of Russia.

Dear friends! We have great traditions, we have people capable to preserve, strengthen and develop these traditions. I am referring to our professors, our youth, I mean our alumni, I mean you who are here in this hall today.
We are grateful to you, our friends and comrades, for cherishing the wealth you received when you studied at our universities and institutes. We are grateful to you for being conduits of knowledge in your countries for the sake of progress in your peoples. We are grateful that you remember our country and our universities, institutes you graduated from. I wish you good health, wellbeing, happiness and new meetings!


The floor is given to Boleslav Kapitan, alumnus of the Leningrad State University, class of 1958, a leader the Club of Polish alumni of foreign HE institutions.


Boleslav Kapitan

I am deeply touched by the fact that, for the first time in my long life, I have a chance to speak after the Rector of the Moscow University.

I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that this Forum is very special and unusual, for its participants share an affinity of emotions, thoughts and opinions. This affinity was formed precisely during our studies, in the period of our intellectual and professional making, at the time when our views of life and the world were shaped.
I am very excited, for this meeting is, to a certain extent a meeting with our youth. Not only myself and my friend from Poland, but probably all those who have gathered here in Moscow, alumni of the Russian and Soviet HE institutions have kept memories of our universities, professors and friends since university days. We have kept memories of the beautiful cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg which are changing beyond recognition. I have mentioned these two cities because this is where most of us studied.
We got high-quality education in Russia and the USSR, many of us have been awarded scientific degrees and ranks. We learned how to handle work and civil responsibilities and, what is especially important, we met many wonderful people, we learnt about the traditions of the Russian people, their cultural wealth. We are grateful to Russia. We are very grateful for all this to our professors, friends, and the HE institutions' leaders and assure you that their efforts have not been wasted.
Polish nationals started studying in the Soviet HE institutions in 1946. Fifteen thousand Poles had graduated from about 100 HE institutions by 1990. Most alumni, about 70 percent, studied at the technical HE institutions.
We are employed in all sectors of the national economy today: in HE institutions, research institutes, cultural, educational and other centers. Most alumni are excellent experts, cultivated and dedicated individuals with an in-depth knowledge of their fields. This is the best proof that the Russian HE institutions have achieved their targets.
An alumni organization was set up in Poland a long time ago - as early as the 1950s. We have published a special book on the alumni's life, work and successes. I will publish a book of my own - my memories of the University days - for the 250th anniversary of the Moscow University.
Esteemed friends! We are not very happy today about what is being done in the field of Polish-Russian cooperation. This can be driven by many objective and subjective factors. Today's world is changing very rapidly. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Russia have embarked on the road to democracy and a free market.
The country where we got our education is going through a huge strategic change. In fact, it has already occurred, and historic transformations have already taken place. All this puts new societal targets for us, and to achieve them, one needs a good sense of direction, objective information, frequent contacts, one needs to study literature, etc. I fully endorse the views expressed here about our future contacts.
The processes under way in Russia and the world are of great interest to the public, they raise a lot of questions and necessitate their interpretation, understanding of complex process and developments - something we do not always cope with.
I believe that we should currently focus on promoting awareness of the processes under way in the Russian economy, culture and science, about the social and political developments here. But these efforts cannot be a success without our Russian friends' assistance. Dear friends, let me express hope that this Forum will inspire us - the organizers and the participants - with new ideas and solutions in keeping with the spirit of the time. The fact that the World Forum held in Moscow has drawn numerous participants from all over the world, demonstrates the need for cooperation, closer contacts in different areas and at different levels.
And the fact that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the country where we got vast knowledge, has taken part in the Forum makes the event even more significant.
Let me express our deep gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this exceptional meeting. On behalf of our alumni I want to congratulate all the participants to the Forum and wish them the best of everything.

The floor is given to Vladimir Mikhailovich Platonov, the Moscow Duma Chairman, alumnus of the Peoples' Friendship University, class of 1982

V. M. Platonov

It gives me a special pleasure to congratulate you with the opening of the first Forum. I am speaking on behalf of the Moscow City Duma which means on behalf of all Muscovites who elected us to the Moscow parliament. I wish you only success in your joint work!
But I am speaking from this rostrum not only because I head the Moscow Parliament. I am here also because I am an alumnus of the Patrice Lemma Peoples' Friendship University, this is the precise name of the University and I remain an alumnus of this particular one.
Our university days are wonderful memories for every one of us. Life gathered us together, we studied together, we shared the same dormitory and we worked in construction teams together. I remember how our construction team came to work in Kazakhstan for two months, and after that the locals waited for ten months for the University students to come again.
It has been said here that we know and understand each other well not only because we speak in the same language, but we share a common upbringing - an international one. I was luck enough to visit many countries; I came across my fellow alumni in Latin America - Chile, Honduras and Costa Rica, as well as Africa and Asia…
Those were most wonderful and exciting moments. True, they taught us to be friends. And this international upbringing, regardless of nationality, country, regardless of skin color has always helped us. I am sure that if US President Bush had studied at the Peoples' Friendship University, he would have found a different way to settle the conflict in Iraq. He would know all countries are inhabited by people and he would have learnt to reach agreements.
Our Forum faces huge tasks - helping in training and legalization of our diplomas. I remember when, in my capacity as deputy chairman of the Federation Council, I went to Chile, and all Soviet alumni's diplomas had gained state recognition by my visit. I was very pleased. But some countries do not yet recognize our diplomas.
Education received in the Soviet Union and in Russia, doubtless, helps every one of us to get leading positions and prove our worth at any level of power and any branch of science. And entrepreneurial activity is no less important. We can and should help each other in entrepreneurship development.
I should like to mention another important issue the entire world community is concerned with today - manifestations of different forms of extremism. It is not just only terrorism, but also nationalism and racism. It makes me sad to recollect this but I myself fell victim to racism in the South African Republic. The salesgirls refused to service me because of the color of my skin. They did not know that I had graduated from the Patrice Lumumba University, they had never studied there. These were most unpleasant moments for me. And today, when we understand each other, when we understand what friendship is about, we should do our best to fight all manifestations of extremism and racism.
I am deeply convinced that the alumni's friendship is a friendship of scientists, a friendship of entrepreneurs, a friendship of politicians and, most importantly - peoples' friendship. Let us all join our hands lest we perish one by one.

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