Preserving Peace for the Future Generations – Interview with Aleksandr Grigorievich Khariton, President of the International Informatization Academy, Moscow, Russia

Sergey Lavrov

On 12th February a unique glass sculpture, Preserving Peace for the Future Generations, was presented to the United Nations Office in Geneva by the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei V. Lavrov.
This gift was produced with the assistance of the International Informatization Academy, a major NGO in the Russian Federation with more than 18,000 members. We had the opportunity to meet with Aleksandr Grigorievich Khariton, President of the Academy, during his short visit to the City of Calvin.Sergey Lavrov
Q : What is the reason for your coming to Geneva today ?
I’m very pleased that my visit to Geneva coincided with this important event. Today, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Sergey Lavrov, will present to the Palais des Nations a sculpture which is the work of one of the members of our academy, the Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky.
Q : Is this the first official gift of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva ?
We do not know exactly if it’s the first official gift of the Russian Federation or not. However, what is important is that this is a gift from our country, and that the Academy has contributed both intellectually and in the making of the sculpture, which is made of glass. The factory that made it is headed by a fellow academician.
Q : Is this a way of promoting Russian artists ?
I would like to formulate it a slightly differently. We are talking not about promoting the sculptor per se. We are talking about promoting the intellectual contribution of the Russian Federation, from the idea of the sculpture to the high quality of the production itself. Altogether it took 6 years to make the sculpture you see here today, and it has not been an easy thing. It is the result of the work of many people over the years.
The whole idea behind it is the globalization of the world’s information space – the idea of the Sputnik in orbit, and other issues such as international terrorism, energy security, climate change and a lot of others, all of which are universal. These problems are dealt with by the international community, and no single member state can resolve all this alone.
Technologically it was a very complicated task. In the beginning bronze was considered, but then it was decided to make it in glass. The sculpture – on the one hand, it should be very fragile and on the other it should represent stability great enough to maintain peace and development.
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The whole idea of not doing it in bronze but in glass was to demonstrate the fragility of the world, and globalization in general.
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The sculpture was first produced in miniatures. They were made by one of the biggest glass manufactures in Russia, and later the full-scale version was produced.
The one here at the Palais des Nations was first shown in the Academy’s headquarters in Moscow, where we gathered people’s opinions to see how it was accepted by the public in general.
We wanted to know people’s impressions when they observed it. The Academy received a lot of replies, and not surprisingly most people emphasized the intellectual contribution to create a better understanding among civilizations. The United Nations is the best promoter of this whole idea of understanding, and, that is the reason why the United Nations is so important for us.
The name of the sculpture is « Preserving Peace for Future Generations ». This is a common concern for humankind, but it is also one of the main focuses of the activities of the United Nations, as well as the main concern as of the Academy.
Q : Could you tell us something about the Academy ?
It was created 17 years ago, and it’s an open type of NGO with some 18,000 members. The majority of the members are connected to science and work with all kinds of scientific projects. The most important task of all these people is to actively explain of the globalization processes.
Q : Could you say that this is a kind of think-tank ?
I would not use this term, for the think-thank as currently conceived in the Russian Federation is different from the European conception. It is a public organization, and one of the leading NGOs connected to the United Nations in the Russian Federation. We are closely associated with the United Nations. Since 1994 we have been associate members of the Department of Public Information, and since 1995 we have had consultative status with ECOSOC.
We do much research, and we contribute to the UN infor-mation centre in Moscow by producing reports and documentation in Russian. These activities have not gone unnoticed, and an international foundation, namely the Edward Rhein foundation in Germany, gave us its merit award for all these efforts in 2002.
The main emphasis of the Academy is the promotion and dissemination of information and exposing more and more people to important aspects of globalization.
We also talk about culture and we organize conferences on this particular subject. Everything is connected to important UN issues such as the dialogue among civilizations, which is the must of the world, culture of heritages, and many other subjects.
Q : Are your activities directed at only Russians living in Russia or are they intended for others ?
The Academy is an organization of world class stature, and there are many foreigners among its members. We have a website (www.iia.ru), « Elite of the Informationologists of the World », is another of the Academy’s projects. Every second year, we have given a prize for those who contribute to spreading information throughout the world, be they Russians from former Soviet republics or from abroad in general.
The project started in 1997 and up to now, five volumes have been published. We are currently preparing the 6th one. So far, among the persons who have been published in these volumes are the United Nations Secretaries-General. Among other personalities there are eleven Assistant and Under Secretaries-General. It is multi-confessional project, and you will also find the chief rabbi, the chief mufti, the head of the Russian Church among them, plus former prime ministers of the Russian Federation and other well known personalities.
Q : Are the international members university professors ?
The Academy is a public organization, and it’s more like a club of interest. All the members work in different areas and they contribute in their free time. This is a voluntary activity for those who are working somewhere else, and it unites everybody from the worker up to the famous professors, cultural leaders, business leaders, managers, and ordinary people.
This is an opportunity for people who want to fulfill their personal projects for the sake of and out of interest in the general public. So, the Academy offers them a space to do so. Thus, this is a platform for those who want to do it.
Q : What would you like to achieve ?
You see, the point is that life itself dictates to us what we need to do in each and every moment. Right now we are concentrating our efforts on global warming because this is what we consider very important in Europe, focusing on everything that was discussed in Bali as a general guide. So we want to contribute, to this particular issue.
For further information about the work of the International Informatization Academy, please consult their websitewww.iia.ru