The Contact Group on Russia-West relations convened for a two-day in-person meeting in Istanbul in June, the first one since the 2020 Covid pandemic had moved the meetings to Zoom. The meeting took place against the backdrop of Russia’s unprovoked and illegitimate invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, and the consequent rapid deterioration of Russia’s relations with the West.
The purpose of the meeting was two-fold. First and foremost, to decide whether in the current context the Group can still fulfil its purposes – namely, to bust myths and avoid stereotyping, and serve as a platform for sharing diverse and frank opinions. Second, to exchange views on the state of and prospects for Russia-West relations and the global setting for this relationship, including Turkey’s role in mediating the conflict and the country’s trajectory following the May presidential election.
The Group concluded that sustaining dialogue and keeping communication channels open are now more important than ever.
The Group concluded that sustaining dialogue and keeping communication channels open are now more important than ever. The Group therefore decided that in line with the ELN’s mission, it should contribute to preserving and expanding the diplomatic space between Russia and the West, and seek the appropriate methods for reducing the current confrontation and minimising existential risks.
You can find an anonymised summary of the meeting here.