Swedish EU Presidency — Networking was all important when Russian students visited Stockholm


Swedish EU Presidency — Networking was all important when Russian students visited Stockholm

Источник: International Security Research and Intelligence Agency

Studies and observations on the Swedish Presidency. This was the purpose of a visit to Stockholm this week by twenty Russian students of European Studies. The itinerary was filled with everything from a visit to the Minister for EU Affairs to talks with Swedish youth parties and think tanks. But networking and exchange of experience were also valued aspects of the visit.

The visiting students were from the European Studies Institute (ESI) at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). The ESI students already have a Masters degree, and they are aged around 30 with a few years of professional experience.

The initiative for this study visit came from the Swedish Embassy in Moscow. The idea was to shed light on the Swedish Presidency for Russian students of European Studies. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs had the task of implementing the project, together with the Swedish Institute, which was responsible for financing it.

«This project is rewarding in many respects, including from a future contact perspective," says Mårten Ehnberg, who works at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs Department for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The aim is for the study visit to become a permanent exchange project.

Studies, work and exchange of contacts

According to Mårten Ehnberg, the programme aims to give a coherent picture of how the EU affects various parts of Swedish society. During the week, visits to various ministries, the Riksdag and the business sector have been sandwiched with talks with youth parties, lobby groups and universities. Seeking contact and common areas of cooperation is important for representatives of the Swedish organisations and the students who travelled here. Ebba Busch, vice-president of the Christian Democratic Youth Association, explains that the youth parties take part in order to talk about how they carry out policy work and influence policies in the EU.

«It is extremely important that we have an open dialogue with everyone interested in hearing about how we work in Sweden and internationally," she says.

Student Tatyana Varicheva is studying at ESI at the same time as working at Russia’s national contact point for Europol. She explains that all students at ESI also work at Russian agencies or ministries.

«Those of us who have travelled here have common areas of cooperation with the EU. Through our studies and this study visit, we hope to be able to deepen them and meet new contacts," she explains.

More study visits on the horizon

This trip to Sweden is the first of several visits planned for this group of ESI students. Their cooperation projects with the Academy of International Relations in Vienna and the College of Europe in Bruges will take them on more study visits abroad.

Alexei Utkin, ESI student and consultant at the European Law Foundation in Moscow, hopes that he can apply his experiences from the visits to his work. Enhanced cooperation between the EU and Russia requires this type of experience exchange, he believes. Alexei Utkin is very happy with his stay in Stockholm.

«I’m impressed by how the programme has been organised. It’s exciting to see how Swedish organisations, parties, ministries and companies work. They represent a form of European organisation that is interesting for us to study," he says.

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