Vologda hosted the annual Fort Ross Dialogue conference on US-Russian relations in Russia, which is traditionally held with support from Transneft, Chevron and Sovcomflot.
Among the forum's participants were representatives of scientific and business circles from Russia and the United States, as well as leading experts, scientists, businessmen, and diplomats. The list of honourable participants included: Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Yury Vorobyov, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy, Vologda Region Governor Oleg Kuvshinnikov, Vice President of Transneft Mikhail Margelov, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Russia Anthony Godfrey, President of Chevron Neftegaz Andrew McGran, and Fort Ross Conservancy CEO Sarah Sweedler. Sovcomflot's delegation was headed by Chief Financial Officer Nikolay Kolesnikov.
The conference's participants discussed issues of bilateral cooperation between Russia and the United States in scientific diplomacy, economics, business and education. At the conference opening, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoy noted:
"The Vologda region has never encountered foreign occupants, it didn't have the institution of serfdom, it has always been home for free and responsible people. From here in Totma, Russian pioneers, sailors and grain farmers travelled to Alaska. In addition, the American Embassy operated for nine months in Vologda in 1918. This is also a significant event for Russian-American relations. The Fort Ross Dialogue has become a symbol of the amazing, completely non-military and absolutely heartful connection between our two peoples".
Transneft Vice President Mikhail Margelov remarked:
"Today, our countries are once again living through a period of strained bilateral relations. It's in this regard that we're happy that our joint Fort Ross project continues to evolve, serves as a platform for informal public diplomacy and facilitates the discussion of the promises and areas of cooperation. In the 1970s, as part of the Apollo-Soyuz programme, we created a unique docking adapter for Soviet and American space ships. Similarly, several years ago, we jointly created an absolutely unique docking mechanism called the Fort Ross Dialogue."
Vologda Region Governor Oleg Kuvshinnikov proposed in his speech to the audience establishing a single day of Russian America "to promote ideas of peace and mutual understanding", as he put it.
"This initiative was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. It can be dedicated to the day Fort Ross was founded according to the Julian calendar, August 30," the governor commented.
Transneft, Chevron Neftegaz, and Sovcomflot are long-standing sponsors of the project. Since 2012, these three companies have supported the initiative on maintaining and popularizing Fort Ross. In his bright and moving speech, Sovcomflot CFO Nikolay Kolesnikov said:
"Several years ago, I referred to Fort Ross as our Malaya Zemlya beachhead, an outpost of friendship between the peoples of Russia and the United States, which we have been protecting over the years, despite certain challenges in the political dialogue between the two countries. We are able to do so primarily because the Fort Ross Dialogue has brought together people who care, who want to preserve and to promote the common historical heritage of our countries, who hope for the Russian-American relations to improve, and who are ready to engage in an open and honest dialogue with each other, including on the most complex issues. For me, this is a manifestation of the unifying mission of Fort Ross, the origins of which date back to the foundation of a Russian settlement on the North American Pacific Coast more than two hundred years ago".
This year, the Russian Geographical Society became one of the event's sponsors. During the conference, it was announced that the Russian Orthodox Church and Transneft supported the proposal to restore an Orthodox chapel located at Fort Ross.
SCF Press Service
Sovcomflot (SCF Group) is one of the world's leading energy shipping companies, specialising in the transportation of crude oil, petroleum products, and liquefied gas, as well as the servicing of offshore oil and gas exploration and production. The company’s fleet includes 146 vessels with a total deadweight of over 12.8 million tonnes. More than 80 vessels have an ice class.
Sovcomflot is involved in servicing large oil and gas projects in Russia and around the world: Sakhalin-1; Sakhalin-2; Varandey; Prirazlomnoye; Novy Port; Yamal LNG, and Tangguh (Indonesia). The company is headquartered in Saint Petersburg, with offices in Moscow, Novorossiysk, Murmansk, Vladivostok, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, London, Limassol, and Dubai.
The Fort Ross Dialogue conference is being held in Russia for the third year. In 2017, the event was hosted in Izborsk, in 2018 in Nizhniy Novgorod, and this year, the conference visited Vologda. The choice of the city was symbolic because the Russian Fort Ross in California was founded in 1812 by a native of the Vologda region, Totma citizen Ivan Kuskov. The settlement existed until 1841. Now a historical national park and museum are located there and have served as the location of the Fort Ross Dialogue conference on Russian-American relations since 2012.