Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 12th Russian International Studies Association Convention, Moscow, October 21, 2019
Thank you for inviting me to speak at the 12th Russian International Studies Association (RISA) Convention.
We greatly appreciate RISA’s contribution to our common efforts to understand what is happening in the world. These processes are anything but simple and they are getting even more complicated. In this context, of course, the combining of efforts and the potential of classical and science diplomacy (this is a new term, a new movement in the world, which we actively welcome), as well as the general context of ties between international expert and political science communities are very important.
The main thing is that, while expanding our range of contacts and involving ever more participants into it, we promote trust, which is greatly lacking on the global stage, and we make our way towards mutual understanding via it. And when countries and peoples understand each other, it will be much easier to look for the best possible solutions to common vital problems confronting mankind. In this sense, we, of course, appreciate the increasing contribution to these efforts that the RISA Convention makes.
The Convention has coincided with the 75th anniversary of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, MGIMO. This was brilliantly displayed in that part of the concert, which I managed to see. I would like to once again congratulate my dear alma mater on this event. The university is celebrating this date, full of vigour, full of achievement, and, above all, full of plans, which will help keep the MGIMO among the most important, successful and effective institutions, not only in the Russian Federation, but also internationally.
MGIMO has a lot to be proud of. It has covered a glorious path and created a unique academic school, which is still proving its worth and, what is also important, is showing the ability for self-perfection and for keeping abreast of the times. Occasionally it even tries to get ahead of the times.
Today we heard the song praise the reliable student card. I would say it is also a happy card. I would also like to mention yet another document, the MGIMO diploma, which, of course, is still a testimony of the highest quality of education that meets the most advanced international standards. Perhaps the fact that the admission tests to this institution are the most trying in the Russian Federation and that students from more than 60 countries are enrolled is also proof of the special place MGIMO holds in the lives of everyone present and Russia as a whole.
The alumni have always formed the backbone of our diplomatic service. We are rightfully proud of many alumni’s successes. I must mention separately the fact that the Convention’s meeting today is taking place as we commemorate our great compatriots and diplomats.
The theme of today’s session is “Diplomacy: Experience and Legacy,” and it is dedicated to the memory and legacy of outstanding Russian diplomats. This year, we celebrate a number of anniversaries, including those of Yevgeny Primakov, Andrey Gromyko, Anatoly Dobrynin, Oleg Troyanovsky and Yuly Vorontsov. They are people who have left an indelible mark on the history of our diplomacy, and more broadly, on the history of our country. They are outstanding, great people, who have made an immense contribution to national security and the effort to create favourable conditions for its stable development.
The Foreign Ministry cherishes the memory of all our outstanding diplomats, whose selfless work, whose consistent efforts in any era aimed to protect this country’s national interests and helped strengthen its position in world affairs and build the broadest possible cooperation to ensure the most favourable conditions for our development. For us, these conditions always mean only one thing – peace, no war, stability and predictability in the world.
We do our best to keep the names of our outstanding colleagues forever in the national memory. We hold proper celebrations of the anniversaries I have mentioned. A special plan of events is underway for each of them. I will point out an event that will take place in a week – the unveiling of the monument to Yevgeny Primakov in the garden square opposite the Foreign Ministry building. In September, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, my Belarusian colleague Vladimir Makei and I opened an exhibition dedicated to Andrey Gromyko at the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Throughout the year, documentary exhibitions and memorial evenings are held. Their goal is not only to pay tribute to the senior colleagues whose achievements have already made it into textbooks on diplomacy and international relations, but also to ensure the continuity of generations.
I am very pleased that whenever I talk to MGIMO University students and other young people, as part of activities under the auspices of the Presidential Executive Office, I see genuine interest in the eyes of young men and women who want to devote themselves to foreign policy, combined with the desire to penetrate history as deeply as possible, the traditions of our diplomacy, our homeland, our country. The feeling of being party to how the young generation feels that they are the future masters of life is worth a lot. I am sincerely grateful to all our young friends.
Today, the global situation is far from simple. I will not dwell on the analysis of foreign policy processes that are taking place on our planet. But one thing is absolutely clear – we live in an era of profound changes that symbolise the transition from the West-centric model of the world order that has been predominant for more than 500 years to a model that will be much more democratic and inclusive. Because today, unlike in the period when five or six countries determined the fate of the world, and all of these were Western nations, it is impossible not only to determine, but even to discuss the future of the world outside such an institution as the G20, which includes the G7, as well as the BRICS countries and their soul-mates. This is a much more inclusive, democratic and fair mechanism, which provides a framework for discussing most diverse problems of the modern world and for reaching agreement that ensures a sustainable, long-term and lasting solution to world problems.
It is also important to strictly comply with international law while realising that it is necessary to improve its leverage. This can be best illustrated by the UN Charter, which remains a secure foundation of international relations and efforts to achieve a balance in global affairs. The sticking point is in the nuances: the modern world is more polycentric than was the case at the time when the UN Charter was signed and ratified. Today, the developing world deserves that its interests are more solidly and deeply integrated into the institutions that were created to manage international relations. The rapid growth of the new leading economies, primarily in Asia, and also in Latin America and Africa, requires that this new economic and financial reality be also reflected in the bodies that organise the process whereby global problems are regulated. Perhaps, one of the most challenging tasks being tackled by the UN today is the reform of the Security Council. If we look at the current composition of the Security Council, we will see that out of its 15 members, five, that is, one-third, represent NATO and the European Union, which is neither normal, nor democratic. So, we will consistently back the aspirations of the Asian, African and Latin American countries to correct this injustice and ensure that the developing countries are better represented on this leading UN body.
Speaking of the UN, I cannot but reaffirm our position that all conflicts in the modern world, without exception, must be resolved in keeping with decisions made by the UN Security Council. I am referring to the Syrian settlement and the efforts to deal with the crises in Kosovo, Libya and Yemen. Of course, issues pertaining to the Iranian nuclear programme must be addressed on the basis of the agreements that were reached and then formalised by the UN Security Council. The same goes for yet another challenge facing the world today. I mean the tensions in the Persian Gulf. I will not go into detail regarding the decisions that were approved. I will only mention one of these – the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the Minsk Agreements on the process of settlement in eastern Ukraine, which the UN Security Council passed unanimously.
As for conflicts in Africa, unfortunately, they are numerous and the number of them is not declining. However, there are reliable guidelines for the settlement of each of these conflicts that are entered into relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We are in favour of the UN Security Council advancing in each of these directions in close contact – maybe, even closer than it is now – with the African Union.
The first ever Russia-Africa Summit will open the day after tomorrow. We will pay special attention to these topics at this forum. As President Vladimir Putin of Russia said in yesterday’s interview, we will support the African approach to African problems. We will never follow the sad lessons of the past, where problems were imposed on African countries from outside. We will always insist that the international community should assist the effort to implement decisions taken by the Africans themselves.
We could speak endlessly about the objectives that are facing diplomacy. In conclusion, I would like to emphasise just one point. Today, it is crystal clear that there are no military solutions to global problems, while diplomacy is playing an increasingly greater role. Hence the special responsibility that we all share, we who are involved in foreign policy at diplomatic institutions or in the field of parliamentary, academic – something we have spoken of earlier today – and public diplomacy.
I believe that the contacts the MGIMO has established with its foreign partners, who are attending this Convention today, are an invaluable contribution to our common efforts to arrange for collective approaches, which would take into account the interests of all states, to resolving most different problems. We will achieve positive results, if we are guided by the common good for the whole of humankind and if we put aside geopolitical and time-serving considerations linked to the need to resolve domestic political issues ahead of electoral cycles in this or that country.
I would like to conclude by praising the spirit of comradeship and positive corporate solidarity that is nurtured within the walls of this great university.