017 is an important milestone in the history of international relations; it marks the 300th anniversary of closer ties between Europe and Russia, a movement that was started by the most illustrious member of the Russian royal family, the Romanoff's, the first emperor of all Russia, the Tsar Peter the Great. This reformer is responsible for initiating a strong and lasting dialogue between Russia and the West. He also modernized an entire Russian society to create a new political, military, economic and intellectual model that was highly appreciated by Europe. Russian culture was also brought to the fore.
Moreover, during his second trip to Europe and his symbolic state visit to the Netherlands, France and Belgium, not only did he strengthen strategic and commercial relations between both parties but he also opened up a new era based on dialogue, cooperation and knowledge sharing of science, culture and art. The aim was to encourage a better understanding in order to progress jointly, thanks to useful and prestigious skills, in line with a new world order. The building blocks for an 'intellectual' Europe both stable and durable were set, thus encouraging peaceful bilateral relations for many centuries to come.
The Foundation of Peter the Great was set up in Liège, a historical town with an impressive past and potential. Considered to be the backbone of Wallonia's economy, and according to Marguerite Yourcenar, this town is a "stepping stone along the mind path" which welcomed the highest dignitary of the Russian empire in June 1717. Full honours were bestowed upon him, with sparkle and magnificence as he made his way to the Baths in Spa before travelling back to St Petersburg, via Aachen and Maastricht, German and Dutch towns located in the current Euro Meuse-Rhine area.
This ambitious project was also made possible thanks to strong ties with Greater Liège and the town and the province of Liège whose overarching aim was to keep history alive by remembering the spiritual heritage left by our predecessors. Our primary objective is to encourage strong ties and promote a better understanding for all. Let us make this dream come true by sharing knowledge and ideas. Let us take on board the experiences of others and learn from them. This will help open up to greater things and achieve universal progress, to make our world an even better place.
Founder and president of Peter The Great Fondation