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Regular version of the site

‘If You Want to Be Strong, You Have to Open Your Doors’: Swiss Ambassador Yves Rossier Visits HSE

At the invitation of Professor Vladimir Kantor, Head of the International Laboratory for the Study of Russian and European Intellectual Dialogue, Swiss Ambassador Yves Rossier visited HSE on Wednesday, 13 February, to give a lecture and meet with faculty and students. In addition to Professor Kantor and students of his International Laboratory, Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov and faculty and students of the School of Philosophy and the HSE Lyceum were in attendance. Vice Rector Prostakov delivered the opening remarks.

Ambassador Yves Rossier (who, to the delight of guests, arrived with his dog in tow) spoke with HSE faculty and students of HSE about Russian-European relations and shared political interests between the two regions. Within this framework, he also discussed common (mis)perceptions of Russia and the importance of a country’s self-perception.

To begin, Ambassador Rossier stressed the commonalities that Russia and Europe share—not only in terms of a shared historical roots in Christianity, but in terms of contemporary culture. ‘To what extent is Russia considered part of Europe? Very few people consider it so,’ he said. However, after having spent two years in Russia as ambassador and travelling to parts of Russia such as Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Rostov, Mr. Rossier asserted that he considers Russia to be part of Europe. Whether he is in Sweden or Russia, he feels at home — in Europe.

And yet European perceptions of Russia nonetheless change all the time, vacillating between viewing Russia as something European and something very foreign. Why is this? Does it have to do with Russia’s foreign policy at a given moment? According to Ambassador Rossier, contrary to what one might think, it has more to do with Europe’s conception of itself in relation to others. For example, despite Russia’s aggressive military presence in Europe under Alexander I, Europeans largely viewed Russia as culturally similar or European in essence. Roughly a century later, in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, when Russia is not occupying parts of Europe, the country was suddenly viewed as something not European at all. It was something different. In the ambassador’s view, these changes thus have more to do with European self-perceptions than actual perceptions of Russia or Russia in reality. And today, for example, while many conservative opponents of immigration in Europe tend to view Russia as a haven of Christian values and ethnic homogeneity, it is actually a country of extraordinary religious and ethnic diversity!

Thus, Ambassador Rossier stressed, perceptions are never stagnant. Perceptions, he says, should also never be taken at face value—especially when it comes to Russia, which, for one reason or another, often serves as a foil upon which people in the West projection their own biases and ideas. Russians, the ambassador says, should therefore ask themselves not how others view them, but how they view themselves, and what kind of future they envision for their own country.

At the close of the talk, faculty and students in attendance asked questions on a variety of topics including immigration, European impressions of Russian philosophers, and potential areas of Russian-European collaboration.

When asked about potential areas for increasing Russian-European collaboration, Ambassador Rossier affirmed without hesitation: science. ‘You have excellent brains here in Russia,’ he said. ‘We should continue and increase our exchange of international teachers and students. If you want to be strong, you have to open your doors.’

See also:

HSE University Brings Major Conference in Philosophical Logic to Russia for the First Time

On October 2-4, HSE University hosted the international conference Trends in Logic 19. Current Issues in Philosophical Logic for the first time in Russia. The conference, which attracted a number of prominent Russian and international scholars, was organized jointly by the journal Studia Logica and the HSE International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy.

HSE Celebrates 25 Years of Educational Partnerships with the Netherlands

On October 2 and 3, HSE University simultaneously celebrated two anniversaries of Russian-Dutch academic cooperation: the 25th anniversary of joint educational programmes between HSE University and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and the 10th anniversary of the Dutch educational center, Nuffic Neso Russia, with which HSE has a long-standing partnership.

Russian and Chinese Education Systems Changing through the Influence of Digital Technology

The Second Russia-China Education Research Conference – Digital Transformation of Education and Artificial Intelligence – was held last week at HSE University. Researchers from the two countries discussed changes taking place in the national education systems thanks to the digital revolution, as well as what can be borrowed from mutual experiences.

HSE University and University of Bergen Sign Cooperation Agreement

The agreement provides for academic and cultural cooperation between the universities, student exchange, and joint research. HSE University and the University of Bergen have been partners in educational initiatives for eight years. The partnership began when the HSE Faculty of Law signed an agreement with the Norwegian university.

Economists and Researchers Gather at International Conference on Wealth and Income in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries

On September 17-18, HSE University hosted a special conference with the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) on the topic of Experiences and Challenges in Measuring Income and Wealth in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries. This was the first IARIW conference to be held in a CIS country. HSE News Service spoke with American economist Barbara Fraumeni about her work with economic accounting and human capital and her experience attending the conference in Moscow.

HSE University and Italian Embassy Sign Agreement on Internships for Italian Students

On September 20, HSE University Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Italian Republic Pasquale Terracciano signed a cooperation agreement between the Embassy of Italy and HSE University.

Upcoming Neuroeconomics Symposium Aims to Share New Research and Build International Collaboration

On September 23-24, the CCCP19 Symposium ‘Cognition, Computation, Neuroeconomics and Performance’ will be held at HSE University. The goal of the symposium is to exhibit cutting edge research at the CCDM, a leading cognitive neuroscience research centre in Russia, and LNC2, a leading European research centre in neuroeconomics, cognitive neuroscience and neural theory. Ahead of CCCP19, the HSE News Service spoke with the conference organizer and several invited speakers about the plan for this symposium and the importance of their research in the field.


proposals for new international laboratories at HSE University have been received from researchers from Belgium, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Norway, the USA, Estonia, and Japan.

Continuing Last Year’s Success at the Upcoming Conference in Applied Economics

The Second ICEF Conference in Applied Economics will be held at HSE University on September 14. The HSE News service spoke with organizers and participants about the upcoming full-day event, which features eight papers presented by renowned specialists from Russia and across Europe and concludes with an evening dinner.

Winners of the II International Economics Olympiad Announced in St. Petersburg

On July 31, the II International Economics Olympiad (IEO) for high school students came to a close in Saint Petersburg. In the team competition, the Brazilian team won the gold medal, while teams from China won silver and bronze. One of Russian teams placed fifth.