RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL SOCIETY

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MOSCOW, June 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry attaches a lot of importance to its dialogue and cooperation with civil society, Minister Sergei Lavrov said as he was opening a meeting with representatives of leading Russian non-governmental organizations in Moscow Tuesday.

There are an estimated 400,00 to 500,000 non-governmental organizations currently operating in Russia, yet very few of those are represented in the international arena, Mr Lavrov noted. According to him, the Russian Foreign Ministry appreciates the civil and creative potential of non-governmental organizations. "We believe that their great potentialities could be used in such essential foreign policy areas as the upholding of Russia's economic and humanitarian interests, the protection of Russian expatriates, the promotion of the Russian language and arts abroad, and the creation of a counterbalance to anti-Russian prejudices, " Mr Lavrov pointed out.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry appreciates the civil and creative potential of Russian non-governmental organizations. We believe this potential could help promote an objective image of Russia abroad," he said.

In today's global context, it is extremely important to prevent a revision of Russia's role in the Second World War, with attempts to do so now being made in some countries, the minister stressed. He also pointed out the need for a jointly elaborated strategy to guide Russian non-governmental organizations' activity in the world arena. Equally important is such organizations' involvement in CIS affairs, added the minister.

Russian non-governmental organizations should increase their presence in the international scene, Mr Lavrov said. "We are going to assist you in this in every possible way, and would like our cooperation to expand further," he assured his audience.

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