5 junio 200411:56

OPENING REMARKS BY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION SERGEY LAVROV AT THE REGULAR SESSION OF THE RUSSIAN MFA SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL "ON THE URGENT FOREIGN POLICY TASKS OF RUSSIA" HELD ON MAY 31, 2004

1280-05-06-2004

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Unofficial translation from Russian

We set a high value on the good relations that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has developed with the community of political scientists. This is an area in which our diplomacy is fed by ideas, it is an important form of enrichment of the thinking process which is necessary for grasping the developments in the world and for the interests of our country to be upheld most effectively with due regard for the full spectrum of the opinions existing in society on foreign and domestic policy issues. Indeed, national diplomacy can hardly uphold effectively the positions of Russia in the world without further strengthening the internal political processes in the economy, politics and social life. I want to assure you that the traditions of such meetings will be kept up. We highly value such interaction.

We are not gathering as often as one would like. This is due to the continually increasing schedule of foreign policy activity. I expert that periodically we shall be able to compare notes. We are keenly interested in that no foreign policy studies (of which many of your are the authors) could be left outside the field of vision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that they would all be used to this or that extent in our practical work to enrich it for the purpose of making diplomacy more effective and productive in terms of the solution of the tasks the President of Russia has set for the government as a whole and for the MFA and other agencies involved in the foreign policy process in particular.

The principal tasks, as formulated in the President's Message to the Federal Assembly of Russia, confirm that our foreign policy course remains invariable. The first consideration is to provide the most favorable external conditions for the further development of the country both in terms of security and with regard to enhancing the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy, improving the well-being of our citizens and solving toward this end the very acute social problems that we face. We have been instructed to proceed from the real interests of people in the first place. This reflects the continuity of our course and at the same time requires further specification so that the foreign policy undertakings are duly adjusted from the viewpoint of the tasks in improving the life of the Russian people. This involves, among other things, the rights of our compatriots who have found themselves outside Russia.

I believe that in this format we can discuss the most diverse issues. Perhaps it would be expedient to meet regularly in narrower formats as well, in order to conduct discussions in a more candid and in a less "overorganized" way. Although in this hall too I count on an informal dialogue. Primarily we mean the dialogue with our science, with political scientists. I hope that the thesis will be refuted about the crisis in our understanding of the processes occurring in the world. What we are talking about shows our interest in preventing that kind of crisis and working out a comprehension which both strategically and practically would meet the interests of the country.

Globalization continues to create ever new problems. The struggle against terrorism is continuing, but obviously its effectiveness must be enhanced. The picture of international relations generally looks very fuzzy. The impression is (and there is an increasing amount of testimony to this) that the international system of the future is still but in the stage of formation. Today, on the one hand, we have to respond to all of these processes and to become aware of them as they occur, and on the other - this is an opportunity to influence them more effectively. A complex task is facing us, and without scientific thought and without collective reason, it will be very hard to find the truth, it will not be easy to devise correct steps.

The developments around Iraq do not make for the strengthening of the unity of the antiterrorist coalition and they put many additional problems on the agenda, let alone the undermining of the foundations of the present world pattern, which rests on the Charter of the United Nations. There are ever more signs of the fact that many people are not averse from the around-Iraq events, or from the influence which the situation in Iraq exerts on present-day international relations, to draw the conclusion about the onset of an era of conflicts of civilizations. For our country such trends are extremely dangerous. In the same context new threats are emerging in the field of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including those in direct proximity to our borders. It is necessary to search for a way out of this situation exclusively on a collective basis, without alienating any country but, on the contrary, carrying on our President's line on developing partner relations with all states which are interested in this and on achieving our aims through dialogue, not confrontation. Of course, this presupposes further efforts jointly with the leading countries of the world, aimed at collectively tackling world problems, which presupposes having the United States of America necessarily enlisted in collective actions as well.

One theme that, with the utmost urgency, now features on the agenda is the developments in the situation within the area of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The situation obtaining cannot satisfy us in full. Within the framework of the Commonwealth a lot of documents have been signed, a lot of structures have been established, but the practical return on them so far is not sufficiently high; for mechanisms are being set up in parallel that encompass the CIS space, but organizationally have no direct bearing on the Commonwealth itself. They are the Eurasian Economic Community and the Common Economic Space and the formative process of the Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organization and in part the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. We are confronted with the task of reducing the activities of all these structures to a common denominator which would reflect our long-term interests.

June 5, 2004

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