22 octubre 200313:32



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For more than half a century the working year for the diplomats of the world largely begins in September, when in the first month of autumn a regular session of the United Nations General Assembly opens - in essence, the key foreign policy forum for the entire international community. And it is precisely at the General Assembly session that the basic guidelines for world development for the next year are outlined.

Russian diplomacy is now unprecedentedly active. Its sphere of activity has substantially widened, the schedule of international meetings is tight as never before. Yet important, of course, is not the intensity of diplomatic contacts, but their content. That is why I would like together with readers examine some key topical issues that will be most relevant for our foreign policy in the upcoming year.

The world community faces a number of problems requiring an urgent and adequate solution. The most important one of them is to determine a modern world pattern for the coming years and decades that would meet the interests of all the states and peoples, big and small.

Recent developments and, above all, the Iraq crisis have demonstrated most acutely that the present transitional stage of world development from the era of the Cold War to a new world order has become impermissibly dragged out. There has arisen an extensive strain in the system of international relations, an uncertain situation characterized by permanent instability.

It is hard to remember in recently history another period when in the world there simultaneously would be so many unresolved regional problems, really threatening international security. To this one should add such threats as terrorism, separatism and other forms of extremism, the danger of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles, drug trafficking, and organized crime.

It is becoming clear that it is not enough just to respond to the new crisis situations that keep arising one after another. What's needed is a new world order which would ensure at the global level both stability and security, help to neutralize the present challenges and prevent the appearance of new.

Russia will continue to play an active, enterprising role in the formation of that world order. This activity is dictated, of course, by our national interests. It is fundamentally important for us to provide external conditions which would reliably guarantee security and prosperity to the Russian citizens and make for the economic and social development of our country.

But we are perfectly aware that to attain this goal is only possible if Russia together with other states can work out the basic principles on which interstate relations will be built. And here in the new democratic Russia the international community has a reliable, predictable and responsible partner, open for dialogue and the search of mutually acceptable solutions on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law.

In our deep conviction, it is not beyond the international community to build a world order in which each state would bear its share of responsibility for the future of humanity, and the world community in its turn would protect the lawful interests of each of its members. In other words: prosperity and security through international cooperation with the preservation of national distinctiveness - this is our principle.

In this we also see the chief meaning of the concept of multipolarity in the era of globalization. In our understanding there is nothing in common here with confrontation or setting states against states. On the contrary, multipolarity means for us, in the first place, the close cooperation of all the states and regions on the basis of equality, democracy and constructive partnership. It is the necessity of solving international problems on the basis of multilateral cooperation with regard for the interests of all the states. Without such broad cooperation, we do not imagine the construction of a new world order.

All of this dictates the need to strengthen further multilateral institutions and, above all, the central and coordinating role of the United Nations and its Security Council. It is the UN that can be the pivotal structure of contemporary international life and a guarantor of the immutability of the fundamental principles of international law.

The 58th session of the UN General Assembly which has opened in New York is being held under the banner of an active quest for ways to reform the Organization. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has announced his intention to create Wise Men's Council to prepare appropriate proposals which will then be considered in the United Nations. Russia, naturally, will actively participate in their preparation and discussion. At the same time we presume that reform is not to be done for reform's sake but ought to be accomplished only with one aim - to raise the efficiency of the UN.

A striking testimony to comprehensive support of the United Nations on Russia's part was the participation of President Vladimir Putin in the present session of the General Assembly.

In his programmatic speech the head of the Russian state put forward a number of concrete proposals directed to the promotion of international security and stability. In particular, at Russia's initiative there will be considered this year a draft resolution concerning the establishment of a global system of interaction against new threats and challenges, primarily international terrorism.

Featuring prominently in the Russian President's speech was the set of questions relating to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There is no need to explain what danger the getting of these weapons into terrorist hands would present. Directed to the prevention of that threat is the specific plan of action put forward by President Putin to strengthen and improve the international regimes for the nonproliferation of WMD.

The President devoted special attention to the humanitarian aspects of UN activities. It is abundantly clear that the struggle against present-day threats and challenges will only be effective if it is bolstered by efforts to overcome poverty and backwardness and to ease the burden of environmental and other global problems. And here the UN is likewise called upon to act in an enterprising and energetic way.

The task of Russian diplomacy now is to translate these important propositions into real actions and decisions of the UN. In so doing we intend to act most constructively, so as to reach the broadest possible international consensus. Recent developments have borne out with particular clarity that when the world community acts together, it is capable of handling even the most complex tasks. But when it is disunited, then it's much hard for it to fight the present-day threats and challenges as well.

A striking confirmation of this were the difficulties the international community encountered in connection with the exacerbation of the Iraq crisis. Russia from the very start of the conflict took a clear, principled and honest stand. We were against its military solution.

At the same time, in Russia's opinion, it is necessary to unite the efforts of the world community now for a settlement which would meet, above all, the interests of Iraq itself and the interests of stability in the region. The important thing is that the Iraqi people should see a clear prospect of the restoration of the country's sovereignty and the transfer of power to its lawful representatives. Without this, it is impossible to solve other problems, such as the ensuring of the security and economic reconstruction of Iraq.

Russian diplomacy intends to continue to take the most active part in resolving this and other crisis situations. As a responsible member of the Quartet of International Mediators for the Middle East, Russia will exert efforts to ensure that the process of the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not thrown back. For there is no alternative to the implementation of the Road Map for this settlement.

A crucial period is approaching in the life of the Afghan people. We shall actively help Afghanistan become a worthy member of the world community with stable power institutions, a state no longer posing a threat to its neighbors and which has ceased the illegal production of narcotic drugs.

It is of fundamental importance that a dialogue has begun this year on the nuclear program of North Korea. Positively assessing the results of the six-way talks held in Beijing, Russia favors their continuation and will maximally assist the search of possible compromises for rapprochement of the side's positions.

The settlement of regional problems, just as stability and predictability in world affairs as a whole, largely depends on the extent of the cooperative effort of Russia and the United States. Moscow is interested in seeking constructive solutions to international problems together with Washington, as well as with other partners in joint work within the UN Security Council, the Group of Eight and other mechanisms of multilateral cooperation.

The meeting of Presidents Vladimir Putin and George Bush held at Camp David on September 26-27 has again demonstrated the particular responsibility of Russia and the US for the safeguarding of international security and stability. Despite all the difficulties and trials through which Russian and American relations have gone through in recent years, the main principles of our cooperation - trust, openness and respect of the interests of each other - have been preserved.

Along with the deepening of the dialogue on key international problems, an important task of the summit was to translate the common vision of the new strategic relationship between Russia and the United States into a language of real actions to develop bilateral cooperation in various fields. The Presidents gave their governments specific directions on that score, determining the key areas in which progress can be achieve even in the near future. Among them: energy cooperation, space development, information and communication technologies, and the removal of the obstacles to trade and investment.

On the whole, as President Putin has stressed, it has been possible as a result of the summit to seriously move forward in the shaping of the relations of a real, respectful partnership between Russia and the United States.

Indicative of the new dynamics in our relations is the fact that in the first six months of 2003 the Russian-American trade turnover increased by more than one-third. This instills the confidence that the new tasks in the development of the partnership between Russia and the US, set by the Presidents, will also be implemented.

We need to tackle no less crucial tasks also in the formation of a new quality of Russian relations with the European Union and in the practical implementation of the agreements reached in the course of the Russia-EU Petersburg Summit. The essence of these agreements is that real conditions should be created for the construction of a truly Greater Europe that unites all the countries of our continent, both those which form part of the European Union and those which are not its members.

For Russia this is of fundamental importance. Although our country for objective reasons does not plan in the foreseeable future to raise the question of its formal accession to the EU, Russia has been and will continue to be a European state. Our strategic and economic interests are concentrated here. The Russians by a multitude of historical, economic and cultural threads are bound with their neighbors in Europe. We are sincerely interested in the closest and mutually beneficial relations with the European Union, which ever new members are joining that have long-standing traditions of relations with Russia. This is why we have actively joined in the process of the formation together with the EU of a system of common spaces; in the fields of economy and trade, internal and external security, justice, science and culture. We firmly count on approaching the November Russia-EU summit, which will be held in Rome, with concrete results in this and other spheres.

A special thrust in our dialogue with the European Union is the creation of conditions for transition in the long term to a visa-free regime for trips. New "walls" and "curtains," now visa-related, should not be allowed to be erected in the path of present and future generations of Europeans, who want together to build their European home.

Today as never before, it is important to establish a mechanism which would help carry out adequately and effectively the ever-increasing volume of joint work between Russia and the European Union. Created at the summit in St. Petersburg, the Permanent Partnership Council is called upon to become that structure. We expect this body on a basis of equality and in real-time mode to enable us to conduct successfully an open and substantive dialogue in various formats according to the Russia-EU countries plus the European Commission formula.

A great deal will have to be done in terms of ensuring the new quality of interaction between Russia and the EU in the area of European security and defense policy. Here too we have a good example - the expanding reciprocally beneficial and, what is particularly important, equal cooperation between Russia and NATO. Today the Russia-NATO Council has already become a significant element of European security.

The multivector character of Russia's foreign policy interests determines the necessity of building on relations with our closest neighbors and partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Life itself dictates the importance of intensifying the integration processes in the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Community, not only in the economic and social, but also in the cultural and humanitarian fields. An important milestone in the development of these processes was the decision of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan on the formation of a common economic space. Serious tasks also face the Collective Security Treaty Organization, above all, in countering the unceasing attacks of international terrorism against our countries.

We will also work for the further development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, of which Russia, China and a number of Central Asian states are members. And then generally the Asian vector is one of the chief priorities of Russian diplomacy. Multipronged and mutually beneficial cooperation is a distinctive feature of relations with our biggest Asian friends - China and India. The recent visit of President Putin to Malaysia has once again demonstrated the good prospects for our cooperation with the ASEAN nations. The Russian Federation - an active APEC participant - with each passing year is building up its presence in the markets of the Asian-Pacific countries.

Such is the far from complete list of tasks facing Russian foreign policy. It strikingly demonstrates how multifaceted today's diplomacy is, and what significance it has for the destinies of each state. Hence the ever-increasing requirements to the profession of a diplomat, which combines not only ever new fields of knowledge, but also - what is no less important - a creative quest for answers to the immensely complex problems being brought on by modern life. A creative approach has always distinguished the workers of the Russian diplomatic agency. It was no mere chance that a brilliant constellation of scientists, writers and poets emerged from their ranks.

This year we are marking the 200th anniversary of the remarkable Russian poet, Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev - a career diplomat who dedicated 36 years of his life to the diplomatic service. He fulfilled responsible missions abroad, in particular at the Russian diplomatic representations in Munich and Turin, and held high posts in the central apparatus of the ministry. Always intrinsic to him were professionalism and the multifaceted character of interests, a selfless love for Russia. "I am Russian," he wrote, "Russian by heart and soul, profoundly devoted to my land.

With Fyodor Ivanovich today we may disagree, perhaps, only in one thing: for all its distinctive nature, the new Russia should be understandable by the mind. Understandable both to its own citizens and to our foreign partners. Herein lies the chief meaning of our public diplomacy. It is in predictability and consistence that the guarantee of the prestige of our country on the international scene lies.

But to believe in Russia is indeed necessary. And this belief, I am convinced, will help us revive a strong and prosperous state, standing on guard of the interests of its citizens.

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