(Dagbladet): With the relationship between Russia and the West at its lowest point in several decades, a group of political heavy hitters are set to meet Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, among others.
Purpose The group call themselves «The Elders» and include former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan (Chair of The Elders), Gro Harlem Brundtland (Deputy Chair), former US President Jimmy Carter, former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo and former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi.
- The Elders are concerned with bringing about constructive dialogue that can contribute to peace and human rights. They travel as private individuals and are not bound to anyone but themselves, Brundtland's advisor Jon Mørland told Dagbladet.
The group is travelling to Russia today and are set to meet Foreign Minister Lavrov, President Putin and former president Mikhail Gorbachev during their visit.
The purpose of the visit is to discuss some of the most important international political issues including:
• The Middle East
• The fight against terrorism
• UN reform
Heavyweights The Elders is a group that in their own words are «independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights ».
The group, which currently consists of 12 diplomatic and political heavyweights, was established by Nelson Mandela in 2007. At that time it was chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Tutu stepped down in 2013 and handed over the chair to former secretary general of the UN, Kofi Annan. He is joined in the council by our own former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, former US president Jimmy Carter and Martti Ahtisaari, who was Finland?s president from 1994 to 2000.
The story is not as simple as it might seem. It did not come about because Mandela decided to gather together some political and diplomatic veterans in 2007. The initiative arose from an unexpected source.
According to the network's website, the concept arose from a conversation between British entrepreneur Richard Branson and musician Peter Gabriel.