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City of Successful Tolerance

The Center for Interethnic Cooperation has started a project: The Development of a Network of Ethnic Associations for Opposing Xenophobia in Russia. The first step in the realization of this project was done with the meeting between the Center for Interethnic Cooperation and its partner organization UNITED in Amsterdam. Often when undertaking international projects there are certain complexities involved. They include a difference of culture and styles of work, the size of the interface with state structures, the disparity between different countries laws and the lack of experience in joint cooperation. In order to start carrying out the project with the utmost constructivism, the partners discussed the details of cooperation within three days. We noted with pleasure that when people are keen of one idea (with guaranteeing the equality of people irrespective of their ethnic and racial characteristics) and seriously anxious about the high quality of the forthcoming work, and if they understand each other easily, then the planning of future joint actions is solved quickly and positively.

As well as getting to know the activities of the partner organization, the employees of the Center for Interethnic Cooperation, Ashot Ayrapetyan, Victoria Shukhat and Marina Chibisova, had an opportunity to get acquainted with Holland. Geert Ates, director of UNITED, has rendered us a cordial welcome and warm hospitality. Even though we have only started our project, he met us like dear relatives and made us comfortable so that the visit to Holland will be remembered only with enthusiasm among its participants.

For those who have never been to Holland, let us simply say, that Amsterdam itself is a unique city. Majestic cathedrals, romantic channels, stone laced bridges, ancient small houses, the smell of the sea, a sense of times past and the sensation of living history. In this city, everything surprises you - friendly Amsterdam people who are riding on their bicycles, an infinite variety of various sea transport, as the city culture is closely connected to that of the sailing nation, cuisines from all countries of the world, and tourists from all over the world fascinated by the kindliness of this European country. Geert showed us the small house of Peter the Great - a place where Peter dreamed about St. Petersburg. He took us to the coast of the North Sea which was nearby and we saw dunes there. We worked a lot and were successful in Amsterdam, and thanks to Geert, we have seen quite a lot. The best, however, was the fantastic feeling of freedom and the pleasure of life, on top of the multi-colored and multi-lingual crowd. It seems that Amsterdam is the city of successful tolerance. Nevertheless, even there interethnic problems do exist. We sincerely would appreciate, that at sometime foreigners can walk through Moscow with the same feeling of calmness and pleasure. It was a great pleasure for us, that, thanks to our partner UNITED, twenty young leaders of ethnic organizations will be in this amazing city. With our own eyes we will see, how much one can achieve in a lifetime, if we help each other to live well instead of blaming each other.

Ashot Ayrapetyan


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