The purpose of the visit from the director of the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Politics was to discuss the possibilities of developing inter-university cooperation.

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Photo: Aleksandr Belenkii

In her welcoming speech, Elena Chernova, Senior Vice-Rector and Acting-Rector, noted that St Petersburg University is proud of its experience of preparing politicians. ‘St Petersburg University has raised a number of prominent Russian political figures’, she said. ‘Just in recent history there have been two presidents of the Russian Federation. They were graduates of the legal school which started the Imperial St Petersburg University a long time ago. That school laid the foundations for political, social and economic research, current scientific spheres, and academic courses of St Petersburg University, including international relations.’ Preparation of specialists in political studies in St Petersburg University is carried out through applied and theoretical interdisciplinary academic programmes. Political science specialists, graduates of St Petersburg University, work in various fields – from private companies and municipalities to federal public authorities.

France leads in the number of partner institutions that have established long-term and effective relations with St Petersburg University. Today the University has 32 ongoing partnership agreements with French institutions, both private and public. There are contracts on joint scientific research and academic exchange. The University has vast experience in the development of joint degree programmes. This year the University launches three joint degree programmes with the University of Sorbonne.

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Photo: Aleksandr Belenkii

Marion Maréchal Le Pen is a French politician, member of the National Assembly and MP of the National Front (2012-2017). She studied public law at Panthéon-Assas University. At the age of 22 she was the youngest MP, a member of the standing committee on Foreign Affairs and the committee for cultural affairs and education, and a member of the friendship groups France-Russia and France-Ivory Coast.

Marion Maréchal Le Pen is a founder and director of the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Politics, which was opened in September 2018. The fact that the founders of the institute include people who built real political careers attracted the attention of the media and French society. At the moment, the institute provides training of specialists only at a master level, but students receive interdisciplinary education in several spheres – politics, economics and social sciences. The institute also provides training in project management, where students will acquire specific practical skills and competencies. They have an opportunity to attend master classes from professors of major universities and practicing specialists – heads of major private companies and public officials. The institute offers advanced training programmes for civil servants.

The director of the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Politics expressed interest in establishing inter-university cooperation and academic exchange, as well as joint scientific projects in the sphere of international relations.

As we teach people who in future will take political decisions, we would like them to be familiar with Russian institutions and education.

Marion Maréchal Le Pen, director of the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Politics

She also said that during their editorial seminars graduate students write articles for French newspapers, such as Le Figaro. She suggested that Russian students who have a good command of the French language could make surveys on the situation in Russia. Marion Maréchal Le Pen trusts that scientific and cultural cooperation would eliminate existing stereotypes and recreate a positive image of Russia.

The director of the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Politics also took part in the conference devoted to the 25th anniversary of international studies at St Petersburg University; where she delivered a lecture on the political situation in the European Union. At the beginning of her presentation Marion Maréchal Le Pen spoke about her relations with Russian history and culture, in particular the strong influence that Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Commencement Address had on her.

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In her speech, the politician drew particular attention to the threats to France and the EU. One of the most important problems, according to her, is the migration policy of the last 40 years. Marion Maréchal Le Pen fears that by 2060 the French in France might become an ethnic minority. This can only be prevented by legal migration and cultural assimilation of newcomers. She noted with regret that a large number of illegal migrants become influenced by the ideas of radical Islamism and leave to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The major issue, according to the politician, is that the French elite do not have a concept of national identity and the desire to maintain and enrich French heritage. The speeches of Emmanuel Macron rarely contain such words as “France” and “the French”. In her opinion, this fact might mean that the Establishment focuses on anything except the people of the country. Instead of the cultural assimilation of migrants, they are more likely to expect cultural assimilation from the French. Marion Maréchal Le Pen said that the main goal which she pursues is fostering a new elite oriented towards promoting the interests of the French nation.

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Photo: Aleksandr Belenkii

Speaking about the European Union, Marion Maréchal Le Pen noted that its further integration as a single federal entity is impossible as there is no clear identity upon which a new inter-state community could be built. Eurocrats seem to behave rather hypocritically in international relations and foreign policy, she thinks. For example, there are countries that have recognised the independence of Kosovo, but refuse to recognise the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation.

The speech generated great interest among university students and academics. Marion Maréchal Le Pen, in her turn, thanked the University in her Twitter.

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Photo: Aleksandr Belenkii