Speech of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the reception on the occasion of Orthodox Easter, Moscow, 21 May 2013
Dear colleagues, friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome all those who have come to the traditional Easter meeting in the Mansion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Unfortunately, we could not gather during the Bright Week. However, it is still appropriate to congratulate each other with the main Orthodox fest today, when the Easter period is continuing.
It is not an overstatement to say that Orthodoxy had an enormous influence on the establishment of the Russian statehood, our multinational culture, perception of environment and consciousness of the Russian people. During many ages of history, the Russian Orthodox Church shared all joys and misfortunes with its people, supported and inspired them, consolidated the moral frame of the public life.
Today, the Church continues its dignified ministration, remaining faithful to the ideals of humanism, mercy and empathy. ROC makes an invaluable contribution to the consolidation of the national unity, public peace and harmony, into rearing of all generations of Russians based on imperishable moral values, civil responsibility and patriotism.
I remember, how you, Your Holiness (in the interview to TV-Channel “Russia 24” on 26 November 2010) quoted words of the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin that the most reliable changes are those related to the improvement of human morals. Issues of morals and ethics indeed gain a special meaning in our age. All the more so when we face new challenges for spirituality such as loneliness and isolation of people, “outsourcing” of human memories using computer technologies, the cult of “instantaneousness”, degradation of the environment, social nihilism. In conditions of the transition period of unprecedented scope the world is experiencing now, we especially need some kind of a spiritual “anchor” keeping us in the creative frame of reference.
Today not only the geopolitical landscape is being cardinally transformed, but at the same time notions and views that seemed unshakable just recently radically change. One of signs of these processes is a significant increase of the meaning of the civilization identity factor. This gives additional impulse to large-scale political processes we observe primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, in other regions.
At the same time, the scope of global threats does not reduce. It is evident that answers to these challenges may be found only on the way of building up collective actions of the global community. Such joint efforts require formation of a relevant framework of values which would ensure mutual trust and allow setting up work with a view to long-term prospects.
I am convinced that the attempts to create such foundation based on one scale of values, including values of the Soviet culture, is a way to a deadlock. Militant secularism that has distributed and, honestly speaking, strives to occupy the place of religion in the society and is advancing with insistence of messiah, is equal to the aspiration to impose personal views to the entire humanity. The oblivion of the moral side of the human nature, propagation of hedonism leads to consequences that may be characterized as rather threatening. Attempts to politicize religious and cultural differences, offensive attitude to other religions give bitter fruits. This certainly refers to those community movements that try to use religion for extremist purposes.
I am convinced that the search of value-based foundations of solitary actions of the international community may be conducted only by appealing to the common moral denominator that has always existed in main world religions. Centuries-old traditions include principles like aspiration to peace and justice, dignity, liberty and responsibility, honesty, mercy, taking care of family, diligence.
The advancement of a balanced vision of the ratio of traditional values and human rights has been one of our foreign policy priorities for many years. This topic was discussed with interest in the Council of Europe at the initiative of His Holiness. The last year was not an exclusion – on 27 September, at Russia’s initiative, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution confirming the thesis that deeper understanding and respect to traditional values promotes stimulation and protection of human rights and liberties.
The reinforcement of the aspiration of different people to base on their civilization roots may turn into the growth of conflicts or the understanding of the need of partner interaction on a new basis complying with modern realia in international policy. Russia is doing everything to promote the reinforcement of international stability, development of equal, partner intercivilizational and interreligious dialog.
We value a lot the role played by the Russian Orthodox Church in these efforts, consistently promoting harmonization of international relations. To that end, we deem it necessary to activate discussions on interreligious problems within the framework of the UN, the Council of Europe, OSCE, other international and regional arenas.
The Church pays a lot of attention to the space of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Visits of His Holiness the Patriarch and hierarchs of ROC in CIS, contacts with flock, political and spiritual leaders do not just reinforce the authority of the Church at its canonical territory, but also promote the development of cooperation of Russia with our partners. Large-scale celebrations dedicated to 1025 years of Christianisation of Russia will become the most important event of this year for Slavic CIS countries.
The activity of ROC embraces all continents. The visit of Patriarch Kirill to Poland, where the Primate of ROC and the head of Polish Catholics signed their mutual pastoral to people of the two countries, was significant. It is hard to overestimate the meaning of just completed first in the history visit of the Patriarch to China.
Our Ministry will further build-up multifaceted partnership with the Russian Orthodox Church at the international arena, but our joint efforts will promote the advancement of principles of supremacy of law and justice, reinforcement of the unique, creative role played by Russia in global affairs in accordance with our centuries-old traditions, in international relations.
In the end, I would like to congratulate again Your Holiness, all our guests with the bright fest of Easter. I wish you health, welfare and all the best.