Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the global themed conference titled 100 Years of the Russian Revolution: Unity for the Future Moscow, October 31, 2017
Good afternoon, conference participants and friends.
I am happy to welcome all of you to this international conference titled 100 Years of the Russian Revolution: Unity for the Future, which has been organised by our compatriots and the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad, which I am privileged to chair.
The Russian Revolution was a turning point in the history of not only Russia but also the rest of humankind. President of Russia Vladimir Putin said in his remarks at a recent meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that the results of the 1917 revolution were ambiguous and that the negative and positive consequences of those events were closely intertwined.
Now that Russia is successfully achieving the strategic goals of ensuring dynamic internal development and is consistently strengthening its international standing, turning to the lessons of a century ago is necessary above all so as to consolidate social reconciliation and civil accord.
By drawing conclusions from that far from simple period in our history, we have seen the senselessness of enforcing ideologies or exporting development models without due regard for local specifics. Our country is not forcing anything on anyone and is not telling anyone how to live their lives. We believe that people around the world have the right and must have the ability to decide their fate themselves.
One of the consequences of the tragic year of 1917 was the appearance of large Russian communities abroad. It is not by chance that the Nansen passports, which were issued by the League of Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees and became the first element of a new area in international humanitarian law, was initially designed for Russian refugees. Many of these passports’ holders were outstanding people and the best representatives of our country, such as writers Ivan Bunin and Vladimir Nabokov, artists Ilya Repin and Zinaida Serebryakova and composers Sergei Rachmaninoff and Igor Stravinsky.
The overwhelming majority of our compatriots became respected members of their host countries’ societies and greatly contributed to their development. At the same time, they preserved their national identity, language, culture, values and religion. Answering the call of the heart, they came together to open schools, build churches, publish newspapers and magazines, as well as open museums in order to maintain a close spiritual bond with their homeland, which also enriched the treasure house of the Russian and world culture.
The theme of this conference, Unity for the Future, is highly relevant. The Russian world has a truly inexhaustible creative potential. I am pleased to note that over the past years, through joint efforts, our work has acquired a fundamentally new quality. In close contact with representatives of foreign communities, we have developed effective mechanisms of interaction. The Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad plays a coordinating role in these efforts. Our programmes have made it possible to unite representatives of the executive and legislative authorities, Russian regions, to involve expert think tanks, NGOs and foundations in our cooperation.
In the current situation in the world, amid the information war unscrupulously unleashed against our country, it is difficult to overestimate the contribution of our compatriots to the promotion of an objective image of Russia, to the upholding of the historical truth. Your initiatives for taking care of the monuments and burial places of Russian and Soviet soldiers are widely appreciated. I must especially note the extension of major commemorative projects such as the St George Ribbon and the Immortal Regiment to other countries; these initiatives have gathered tens of thousands of people in almost a hundred countries.
Not everyone seems to be happy with this unity. Attempts are being made to blacken the activities of our compatriots, to split their ranks, and to tear them away from Russia. In a number of countries, especially in Ukraine and the Baltic countries, there is no end to their direct discrimination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our embassies and consulates are consistently defending the rights of our compatriots. We use both bilateral mechanisms and the resources of various international organisations. You can always count on our help and support. We are closely monitoring the preservation of the status of the Russian language, including in the education system in the respective countries; we have these issues under special control.
We very much appreciate your involvement with everything that is happening in Russia and your unfailing determination to contribute to its success and welfare. It is especially important today to enhance our young people’s feeling of being part of our common heritage. This year, the Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad has sponsored over 20 youth events at various levels while expanding the range and themes covered.
The Third World Youth Forum of Russian Compatriots in Sofia, titled Destiny of Russia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, was an event on this scale. Our young compatriots enthusiastically took part in the Third World Games of Young Compatriots in Kazan and the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students. Moscow is currently hosting the Fifth Forum of Young Compatriots organised by the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs (Rosmolodezh), the Federal Agency for the CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) and the Foreign Ministry of Russia. We are considering new forms of interaction, including online meetings of young compatriots, as well as prominent Russian experts and bloggers.
These efforts have produced practical results. Young people are becoming more active in the organisations and associations of compatriots living abroad and are energetically contributing to the development of economic and cultural ties with Russia. I believe that the necessary prerequisites for creating a network of young compatriots exist. If you decide to do this, we will be ready to support your decision and help you implement it.
Close ties between our compatriots and the Russian Orthodox Church deserve deep respect. Your organisations include members of the clergy, and churches host numerous events, which bring together the Russian community outside Russia.
A major aspect of our joint daily work is the use of modern information and communication technologies and the social media. By the way, this conference is being streamed online for the first time, which will greatly expand its audience.
In March 2018, we will hold a presidential election. We believe it very important for Russian citizens living abroad to take an active part in this vital event in the country’s life. We hope that the country coordinating councils of the compatriot organisations will contribute to the information coverage of preparations for and the actual voting.
Our history has shown that prosperity for the country and all Russian citizens without exception can be only achieved through cooperation. President Vladimir Putin said in his address to the Federal Assembly last year: “Let’s remember that we are a single people, a united people, and we have only one Russia.”
I am sure that our conference will make a positive contribution to our common efforts to rally the multinational and multi-religious Russian world.
Thank you. I wish success to your conference and all the best to all of you.