Influential former heads of state group The Elders conclude three-day visit to Moscow and meetup with Vladimir Putin
This week Russian President Vladimir Putin met with members of a group of former heads of state and key international organizations to discuss Ukraine and other world crisis. The group, known as The Elders, joined Mr. Putin at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow to conclude their three day trip to Russia’s capital.
Founded in 2007 by former South African President Nelson Mandela, The Elders use their influence and peace settlement experience to assist in critical situations such as the one affecting Ukraine today. Comprised of 12 members, and headed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, The Elders help to resolve the world’s most serious and complicated problems.
Russia’s president welcomed the group to his home with this brief statement:
"Colleagues, friends, Let me wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. I know that Moscow is not the only place where you meet with current state leaders. I must say that there is a need for the active position you take in international affairs, especially now, when we are all witnesses to the complicated situation our world is in at present. Sadly, the world has not become any simpler since it was when you were active in political life. I am not trying to say that this is your legacy, but simply that our world really is complex and diverse and has very many conflict situations. I will not list all these conflicts now. In any case, it would be a great pleasure and also useful for me to hear your views on a number of key issues. This is so for me, and for my colleagues, Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov, who I am sure you all know well, and my aide, Mr Ushakov. Welcome!"
Apart from meetings with President Putin, the Elders held in-depth discussions with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, and with various heads of leading Moscow-based think tanks. Of the success of these meetings, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General said:
“We are pleased to have had the opportunity to discuss Russia’s role in international affairs with the President. To be successful in defusing conflicts and building trust, high-level dialogue and effective action are essential.”
The Elders who participated in this latest mission to Moscow were: Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish President; Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General; Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian Foreign Minister; Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister; Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President; and Ernesto Zedillo, former Mexican President.
Finally, zince this was the first visit by The Elders to Moscow, the delegation wanted to hear their Russian counterparts on how the government views the current geopolitical climate around the world. Of course Russia’s view on Ukraine was acutely important, according to the group’s spokespersons. Of particular note was the prospect for implementation of the so-called Minsk II agreement, which The Elders urged should be urgently implemented.