Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address at a meeting with the students and faculty of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow, February 15, 2017
We have met today to talk about our foreign policy and the contribution of the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy that should increase its involvement in achieving our common goals.
I would like to begin by congratulating you on the holiday you celebrated yesterday. As I understand it, you celebrated not only Valentine’s Day but also Academy Day. What a nice coincidence. Once again, I wish success and all the best to the Academy’s faculty and students.
The contribution of the Diplomatic Academy and MGIMO University is especially relevant now, when the world and the global balance of forces are changing so rapidly. We are witnessing the rise of new economic powers with related political influence.
Asia Pacific is growing into the global economic driver. Latin American and African countries, which have considerable human and resource potential, are becoming more active. The cultural and civilisational diversity of the modern world is coming into sharp focus against this backdrop. It is becoming clear that we must make international relations more democratic, safeguard justice and respect people’s right to decide their future. As part of this objective process, the countries of the so-called historical West, primarily Europe, are losing the ability to dictate their will to the rest of the world as they did for the past few centuries.
The discussion of many key issues has moved from the G7 formed by the West to G20, a respected and representative forum of the leading countries from around the world. We see the increasingly stabilising role of associations such as BRICS and the SCO, in which Russia is working actively, including by promoting the initiative advanced by President Vladimir Putin to deepen integration in Greater Eurasia with contribution from the EAEU, SCO and ASEAN economies. In addition, we are working to strengthen cooperation with our CSTO allies. We are also trying to improve the CIS. All of this is part of the ongoing development of a polycentric world order that will reflect new realities. This is an objective trend that will increase stability and predictability in international relations. In this context, diplomacy should play a much bigger role as an instrument for coordinating balanced decisions that will reflect global diversity.
It is obvious that painstaking daily work is the only path towards compromises on numerous issues. Reliance on hegemony and exceptionalism has only added to instability and chaos and must be thrown on the garbage heap of history.
The situation in the Middle East and North Africa is an example of the consequences of illegal unilateral actions that have been taken in the past few years. The attempts to export democracy have not brought prosperity but have thrown the region into anarchy and provoked an unprecedented growth of terrorism and extremism. The results of this are terrorist atrocities around the world and the migration crisis in Europe. To change this, we must take energetic measures to create a broad counterterrorism front, which is already developing in Syria thanks to Russia’s consistent actions. At the same time, we should help people in the region to launch the political and socioeconomic rehabilitation of the Middle East and North Africa.
Another example of irresponsible geopolitical experiments is the coup in Ukraine, which was provoked by external forces and has thrown the country into a deep crisis. This crisis can only be overcome through the full and unconditional implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures. People in Donbass must have the right to local self-government and the use of their native tongue, in full compliance with the European and global practice. We hope that our partners in the Normandy format and the United States will cut short Kiev’s efforts to sabotage the implementation of the Minsk Agreements and stop Kiev’s destructive actions that are only deepening the internal Ukrainian conflict.
Russia is conducting an independent and pragmatic foreign policy, defending national interests and promoting equal cooperation with everyone who is willing to reciprocate. A growing number of countries share Russia’s approach to settling the key problems through collective actions and respect for international law. The role of Russia as a balancing factor that is helping strengthen global stability and security is finding broader recognition.
We do not advocate confrontation or isolation. Guided by the Foreign Policy Concept, which has been approved by President Putin, we will continue to promote a positive forward-looking agenda in relations with our partners, including the United States and the European Union.
Washington and European capitals are increasingly recognising the need to restore confidence and resume dialogue with Russia. We appreciate this approach and hope to see practical steps towards its implementation.
Whatever happens, Russian diplomacy will do its utmost to reliably and effectively protect Russia’s interests and Russians and to create favourable conditions for national development.
As I have said, contribution by the Diplomatic Academy and MGIMO University, as well as by other Russian organisations that are concerned with international issues, is a major asset. We hope that your work will become even more effective and result-oriented.