‘Our Student Exchange will not be a One-off Event’
Angelika Nussberger, Director of the Cologne University Institute for Eastern European Law, and Eduard Ivanov, Deputy Dean of the HSE Faculty of Law, told us about the Russian-German seminar on ‘International Legal Problems of Counterterrorism’, which took place at the HSE on November 5th and 6th, as well as about plans for further cooperation between the two universities.
- How did the idea for this seminar arise?
Eduard Ivanov:There is an agreement between the Law Faculties of our universities, and it provides for different forms of academic cooperation. One of the ways for us to cooperate is to organize joint research and various types of scientific events. On the basis of this agreement we have planned the first seminar which involved participation of professors, students and postgraduates of our faculties.
- What goals did the Cologne University have in mind when choosing a partner in Russia?
Angelika Nussberger:We wanted to get acquainted with the approaches to teaching legal disciplines in Russian universities. We were thus aiming to understand the principles of how the legal culture functions in Russia, since it is important for our students not to isolate themselves and focus only on European law, but also understand other law systems. Furthermore, Russia is our neighbour, and we should be aware of how the legal system is developing here and what approach to law is being formed among the young.
-Why did you choose the legality of counterterrorism as the topic of the first seminar?
Eduard Ivanov:This topic was chosen during the negotiations on our agreement. Unfortunately this topic has become important for Russia as well as for EU countries, and as a result of our discussion with Cologne colleagues who work on problems of international criminal law, we came to the conclusion that it was necessary to discuss this topic.
Angelika Nussberger:Such a joint seminar is a wonderful opportunity to compare the Russian and German law systems in this area and to understand if we can somehow use each others'experience and the experience of other countries. We thought that such a discussion would be productive both for professors and students.
- And what are your impressions after the end of the seminar?
Angelika Nussberger:Everything went even better than I had expected. Of course, I knew what kind of students and postgraduates I was bringing here:I knew how well-prepared and eager to work they were. But it was a pleasure to see a similar enthusiasm and high level of knowledge from students on the Russian side, and moreover, to hear how good their German was. All these factors combined to allow us to conduct discussions at a very high level.. So if we call our first seminar an experiment, it was clearly successful.
- What presentation was the most memorable for you?
|Eduard Ivanov, Deputy Dean of the HSE Faculty of Law|
And speaking of our colleagues, as far as I understood, they were very interested in the issue of using military elements for fighting terrorists within a country. In Germany it is illegal to use the Bundeswehr in the resolution of such situations.
Angelika Nussberger:That's true, and it was very interesting for us to find out what authority in such cases the militia and army have in Russia. It is difficult for us to understand this system, but it is also very important, since this is one more aspect of governments'responsibility for counterterrorism. We cannot focus only on reading abstract texts on this topic, which are sometimes published in Germany.
- How similar are your approaches to the problem of legal groundwork for counterterrorism in general? It is no secret that Russia and Germany do not always agree on who should be considered terrorists.
Eduard Ivanov:You know, we leave political evaluations to the conscience of the two countries'governments. Our job was to discuss only the legal aspects of this problem. Most importantly, we have a mutual understanding of the necessity to fight terrorism. We spoke one language, since we believe that this problem can only be solved through the joint effort of leading countries, and for this purpose it is necessary to move their positions and legal systems closer. We also discussed gaps in legal systems which exist in our respective countries, and it was all the more interesting for both sides to hear the opinion of their colleagues.
Angelika Nussberger:As Professor Ivanov has already stated, we are lawyers. It means that we should understand what legal criteria exist for the definition of terrorist and non-terrorist organizations. We should classify and compare them. It is a different matter when we are talking about political criteria and political assessments. Here everything depends on the views of specific politicians and government officers and, of course, on their interests. This is how different approaches are born, and it is beyond our capabilities to reach compromise on this.
- How can we influence countries which refuse to search for any compromise in regards to this issue?
Eduard Ivanov:Obviously, not all countries are interested in an effective fight against international terrorism. But there is a mechanism of sanctions through UN Security Council resolutions. And in recent years an interesting tendency has appeared:previously sanctions had been used for whole countries, whereas in recent years, resolutions have been made for specific terrorist organizations. In addition to that, lists of people and organizations involved in terrorist activity are created, their assets blocked, and bank accounts and property confiscated. Clearly, more effective measures are also needed. One of the ideas we discussed with our German colleagues is the creation of a special international court institution which could recognize terrorist organizations as criminal and would forward decisions to the UN Security Council that would confirm separate countries'and governments'connection to terrorist activities.
- The seminar was a chance for HSE students to prove their ability to study in Cologne. Will seminar participants have a priority in the selection?
Eduard Ivanov:The cooperation agreement between our universities provides for the opportunity for the students to study during a term in the partner university, and we are really planning to send our students to Cologne within a couple of months. Those who took part in the seminar are obviously the best-prepared students for such a trip:both in terms of German language knowledge and in terms of analytic and research work proficiency. So I think it would be fair if the students who have invested a lot of effort in preparing this seminar will receive a certain priority. But the exchange will not be a one off event, so afterwards other students will also have a chance to prove themselves. In future we also plan to develop joint Master's programmes with Cologne University.
- One student from Cologne is already studying in the HSE. Are other German students ready to follow his example?
|Angelika Nussberger, Director of the Cologne University Institute for Eastern European Law|
- Does that mean that the Cologne University is not going to expand its activity in Russia?
Angelika Nussberger:Our resources and opportunities are not endless. It is better to have solid cooperation with one university, than weak connections with ten of them. The natural next stage is inviting our Russian colleagues to Cologne where we can continue our conversation.
- When could we expect some new joint seminars?
Eduard Ivanov:We plan to make them annual and to change the location - we'll be gathering alternately in Moscow and in Cologne. One thing is clear, we'll focus more than just law enforcement topics. For example, we have many interesting questions to discuss regarding corporate and entrepreneurial law, as well as investment security. These are also potential fields of research, particularly taking into account that Germany is Russia's largest trading partner.
Oleg Seregin, HSE News Service
Photos by Viktoria Silayeva