US Embassy Moscow Closing Plenary Session. Under Secretary Judith McHale, Ambassador John Beyrle and Ambassador Mikhail Shvydkoy

US Embassy Moscow Closing Plenary Session. Under Secretary Judith McHale, Ambassador John Beyrle and Ambassador Mikhail Shvydkoy

The Bi-lateral Presidential Commission to Russia, in which I participated as a delegate representing the American museum community, wrapped up three days of meetings in Moscow at the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Ministry of Culture, with a final plenary session held at the US Embassy in Moscow. Under Secretary Judith McHale made closing remarks at a capstone reception hosted by US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, at his home, the historic Spaso House. In her address to the 150 invited guests, she noted that Working Group on Education, Culture, and Sports Exchanges within the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission had successfully completed their meetings.

“I am sure Presidents Medvedev and Obama will be pleased with the results. We enjoyed very cordial and productive meetings with our Russian counterparts and colleagues. My counterpart, Special Presidential Representative for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy, and I discussed several areas in which we can work together to deepen and enrich the connections between the American and Russian peoples,” noted Under Secretary McHale.

“With President Obama’s desired fresh start in U.S.-Russia relations, it will become increasingly important to promote people-to-people relationships. This fall, Secretary Clinton said in Moscow “we are resetting our relationship for the 21st century. And that relationship is not just between our two governments, but most importantly, it is between the Russian and American people… we need to continue to work to make sure we find common ground on behalf of the Russian and American people, and that our two great nations help to lead the world in the 21st century for greater peace, prosperity, and progress.”

The opportunity for museums to participate in culture exchange with Russia will grow during the next few years, including exchanging exhibitions, professional staff development, participation in conferences, symposia and web and social networking exchange. A working paper outlining points of desired exchange was drafted and will be finalized when the Russian delegation comes to the United States in March.
In a closing press release from the US State Department, Secretary McHale announced, “The discussions resulted in a broad consensus on the following:

• In elementary, secondary and higher education, the parties intend to develop new educational and research initiatives in science, language acquisition and proficiency, teacher education, and professional development. We also intend to expand existing exchange mechanisms, such as the Fulbright Program and university partnerships.
• In culture, we intend to develop events in both of our countries celebrating the traditions, accomplishments, and aspirations of our two peoples. We will also examine innovative use of the Internet to convey the dynamism of our cultures to students in each of our countries.

To read the full press release, click here:

The next meeting of the Working Group on Education, Culture, Sports, and Media is planned for March 2010 in the United States. It was thrilling to participate on the ground floor in building cultural exchange and deepening understanding and respect for our two nations’ traditions and culture. I am excited to share the opportunities with America’s museum community through the American Association of Museums.

The discussions built on the commitment by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in July 2009 to deepen and enrich connections between the people of the United States and the people of Russia. The meetings took place under the auspices of the Bilateral Presidential Commission’s Working Group on Education, Culture, Sports, and Media, one of sixteen working groups created under this Presidential initiative, of which I was a privileged representative for the American Association of Museums.

For information on the US diplomacy mission to Russia, visit the State Department links:

Joint Statement:

Press Release:

Televised Press Announcement:

Mission Statement:

The Mission of the Bi-lateral Commission:

“The United States and the Russian Federation reaffirm that the era when our countries viewed each other as enemies is long over. Recognizing our many common national interests, we are resolved to move beyond Cold War mentalities and chart a fresh start in relations between our two countries to contribute to our future progress and shared prosperity. Under the leadership of President Obama and President Medvedev and coordinated by Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lavrov, the U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission is dedicated to identifying areas of cooperation and pursuing joint projects and actions that strengthen strategic stability, international security, economic well-being, and the development of ties between the Russian and American people. Through the commission’s working groups and sub-committees, we will strive to deepen our cooperation in concrete ways and to take further steps to demonstrate joint leadership in addressing new challenges. The foundation for the work of the commission is based on the core principles of friendship, cooperation, openness, and predictability, and we are resolved to address disagreements openly and honestly in a spirit of mutual respect and acknowledgement of each other’s perspective.”

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