The State Duma is enhancing its foreign-policy activities. At the moment the lower chamber of the parliament is involved in the preparations for the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly which will be held in Saint Petersburg from 14 to 18 October 2017.
“We are going to host an unprecedented number of delegations – it is both honorable and demanding”, the Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee for IPU Assembly and the Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said. According to him, Saint Petersburg “will become a global capital of parliamentarism for a week”. It should be mentioned that President Putin approves of the work of the Organizing Committee and considers that the Assembly should become a high-level event.
Russia’s delegation in Saint Petersburg will be a representative one. It will be comprised of eight senators and seven Duma MPs. Deputy State Duma Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy said that not only bilateral meetings but also several summits will take place in Saint Petersburg: summits of the CSTO member-states’ lawmakers, of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the CIS and of the heads of BRICS’ parliaments. Besides, the vice-speaker emphasized the fact that the delegations in Saint Petersburg will be involved in bilateral meetings. Many member-states expressed their willingness to hold them.
Fifteen PACE members from ten countries of the European Union have already been registered to participate in the IPU Assembly.
Rethinking Russia Director Alexander Konkov notices that the Inter-Parliamentary Union is the only worldwide organization that gathers together lawmakers from all states and all continents and unites chambers of all levels of all parliaments in the world:
– Nowadays it is the only one universal platform for inter-parliamentary dialogue and cooperation. The question whether it is powerful is of secondary importance. The main thing is that it is an institutional base and there is no alternative to this base in terms of comprehensive universal parliamentary diplomacy at the moment. So, in this context the IPU has a certain resource and, I would say, an apparent potential that is important to the whole world and that can be developed diversely.
Perhaps, this organization is not familiar enough to Russia as we have just recently started to pay attention to it. The fact that our country is hosting the Assembly opens a window of opportunities to Russia’s parliamentary diplomacy. Moreover, exactly at this forum the Assembly will elect its President. Whoever will take the lead of the organization, the elections will take place in Saint Petersburg and this will be an important event both for the organization itself and for Russia’s positioning and participation.
For Russia this is a prospective line for development as well as parliamentary diplomacy as a whole. Moscow should bolster its position in an inter-parliamentary dialogue: Russian lawmakers are ready for this, they are active and communicate with their foreign counterparts. It is time to systematize Russia’s parliamentary diplomacy and the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Saint Petersburg will form a basis for launching this process.