Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a ceremony on the occasion of Diplomats’ Day, Moscow, February 8, 2018
We are grateful to our guests and comrades for accepting our invitation. I have the honour to declare this ceremony devoted to Diplomats’ Day open.
(Anthem of the Russian Federation)
* * *
I would like to again express our gratitude to all those who have joined the Foreign Ministry staff and veterans on this occasion, including our colleagues from the Presidential Executive Office, the Government Executive Office, the Russian Security Council, ministries, agencies and other offices with which we maintain close and fruitful cooperation. My special thanks go to Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
I believe that the presence here of the people with whom we cooperate in a wide range of spheres is fresh evidence that professional solidarity is crucial for the successful achievement of the goals set by President of Russia Vladimir Putin in important sectors of foreign policy.
Time moves on inexorably. Over the past 12 months, several of our colleagues have passed away, some of them in the line of duty, such as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, Ambassador to Sudan Mirgayas Shirinsky and Russia’s Permanent Representative to FAO and WFP Alexander Gorban. Let us honour their memory with a moment of silence.
We have received many greetings on Diplomats’ Day. I would like to read out the message we have received from President Vladimir Putin.
“To the staff and veterans of the Foreign Ministry
I would like to extend my most sincere greetings to you on your professional holiday, Diplomats’ Day.
There are many brilliant victories in the centuries-long history of Russian diplomacy and outstanding people who are the pride of the nation. The current Foreign Ministry staff continues to protect the country’s interests based on the good traditions of the past.
In the current complicated international situation and amid numerous problems, you are working hard to create favourable foreign policy conditions for Russia’s sustainable socioeconomic development and to protect the rights of Russian citizens and compatriots outside Russia.
The central apparatus and foreign offices of the Foreign Ministry are dealing with formidable challenges connected with the development of truly equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation with all our foreign partners. Our continued priorities are to uphold the UN’s key role in global affairs, to consolidate the international community in the fight against the terrorist threat and to strengthen the foundations of strategic stability and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The defeat of the main terrorist forces in Syria has created conditions for a peaceful settlement in that country, which the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi has confirmed. Of course, there is still much work ahead to resolve the Syrian crisis and several other regional conflicts.
It is vitally important to continue to promote the further development of mutually beneficial integration processes within the Eurasian Economic Union and to enhance the efficiency of multilateral cooperation organisations, which have been established with proactive contribution from Russia, such as BRICS, the SCO and the CSTO.
I hope that Russian diplomats will continue to work creatively and in earnest. Your achievements are certainly fostered by the broad support given to our foreign policy in Russian society.
I wholeheartedly wish success to the Foreign Ministry employees and health, long life and courage to the veterans.
As I have said, greetings to the Foreign Ministry staff and veterans have come from many Russian officials, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. They praise the success of the foreign policy department in protecting national interests and express confidence that the ministry staff and its embassies and consulates abroad will continue to work consistently and efficiently to help strengthen Russia’s standing on the international stage.
We have also received greetings from Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, the heads of parliamentary committees, MPs and the heads of ministries and departments who have sent their delegates to this meeting, as well as the heads of Russian regions and members of the business community.
We are truly honoured to receive a high assessment of our diplomatic efforts to protect national interests and to promote broad international partnership on the basis of equitable and mutually beneficial relations. On the other hand, there are no, nor can there be any grounds for complacency. I hardly need to tell this highly professional audience that the global situation is becoming increasingly unstable. The so-called historical West, which is concerned about the loss of its influence, is trying to maintain its domination and to hinder the objective development of a new polycentric world order and the rise of new global centres, including Russia. The conspicuous anti-Russia campaign, which Washington has initiated, has acquired a truly unprecedented scale. It is designed to reduce Russia to the state of a puppet.
These attempts will not succeed. Russia will not be isolated or forced to forgo its principles, and attempts to solve one’s problems at Russia’s expense will run aground. We have faced many external challenges in our history, but we have dealt with all of them successfully with active contribution from the country’s diplomatic service. And this is how it will be in the future as well.
Today Russia is a key player in promoting a positive future-oriented international agenda. We have regained our historical role as one of the main guarantors of global stability and a country upholding the values of truth and justice in international affairs. It is a role the international community needs very much. The overwhelming majority of countries support our foreign policy. Historically speaking, they are our allies alongside the Army, the Navy and the Aerospace Forces. By developing multifaceted relations with these countries, which have some 80 per cent of the world’s population, we are creating favourable external conditions for Russia’s development and for strengthening its economic, research and technological capability.
We will continue to steer an independent, open and honest foreign policy, which is rooted in Russia’s centuries-long history and unique geostrategic location. Europe in the west and the dynamic Asia-Pacific region in the east determine the central place of the Eurasian factor in our development.
I will repeat what President Vladimir Putin has said: We are ready to cooperate with all countries without exception based on equality, mutual benefit and a balance of interests.
On March 4, 1881, Nicholas de Giers, who succeeded Alexander Gorchakov as the Foreign Ministry Governor and was subsequently appointed Foreign Minister, sent a letter to Russian representatives abroad on the ascension of Alexander III to the Russian imperial throne. In this letter, Nicholas de Giers wrote: “Russia will always reciprocate good feelings for all states, but it will not forgo its rightful place among the world’s powers and will not stop working to maintain a political balance. Russia believes that its goals are closely connected with global peace, which is based on respect for law and agreements. It must primarily take care of itself and should only withdraw attention from internal matters to defend its honour and security.”
It is obvious that these words, although uttered nearly 140 years ago, are completely in sync with modern realities. We will rely on the rich legacy of our predecessors to improve the range of diplomatic tools and make use of all opportunities created by modern technology.
I hope that all ministry employees will continue to show initiative and will work efficiently and consistently. We must do our best to fully justify the trust placed in us by the country’s authorities and people.
Congratulations on our professional day. I wish you and your loved ones good health and success in your service to the Motherland.