Sergey Lavrov: Russia has never looked for enemies

14 April 2017

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a meeting with Foreign Ministry representatives in the Russian regions, Moscow, April 13, 2017:

Good afternoon, colleagues,


We are glad to welcome you to this meeting. The last time we met in this format was three years ago. Clearly, many questions that constitute the authority of the heads of the Foreign Ministry regional offices have accumulated over this period. I hope we will be able to discuss them today in order to enhance the effectiveness of our cooperation.


It is obvious that concerted efforts by all Foreign Ministry departments without exception are especially important in the current situation. I will not talk at length about all the issues, but it is a fact that old conflicts have not abated while new ones have emerged. These include the Ukrainian crisis and the situation in Syria, which we discussed in detail with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at our meeting yesterday.


Overall, confrontation has been growing in the world not just as part of the natural political and economic competition, but also rivalry that is affecting the system of values due to our Western partners’ attempts to force their views on everyone. This reflects the Western countries’ striving to maintain their leading positions at any cost, positions to which they have become accustomed in the past centuries. Today they are forced to admit that the world around them is changing within the framework of the objective development of a polycentric world order. As I said, this process is very painful for those who are accustomed to deciding all issues for everyone. They apply repressions against those who refuse to toe the line, including sanctions, information pressure and information wars, as well as direct interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, as we see happening in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Ukraine. All of us know how the coup in Ukraine was staged in February 2014 and who supported and prepared it.


As I said, yesterday we had a detailed discussion on the need to revitalise the Russian-US efforts to mobilise the international community against terrorism. We reminded the United States that such actions as its strike on Syria on April 7 run counter to this goal. We insist on a thorough, independent and objective investigation into this strike. We cannot and will not support the attempts to use this situation to press for the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government without good reason.


Acting in keeping with the updated Foreign Policy Concept, which President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved in November 2016, we pursue a positive, constructive and multi-directional foreign policy, which has been proved effective and is supported in society. Russia’s position is focused on advocating collective action without unilateral moves, and cooperation based on equality, the indivisibility of security and respect for all countries. In this context, we are at one with the majority of countries that also stand for justice and greater democracy in international relations.


Russia has never looked for enemies. We are cooperating with our partners to attain common goals and not in opposition to anyone. It is on these principles that we are promoting cooperation within the EAEU, the CSTO, the SCO, BRICS, G20, RIC and other formats. The list of our undeniable priorities includes efforts to promote Eurasian integration and develop the EAEU’s foreign relations in keeping with President Putin’s initiative on a Greater Eurasian Partnership that would incorporate the SCO and ASEAN economies and other interested countries.


We see that Russia’s regions are becoming more active internationally and in foreign trade. Clearly, these efforts should be in line with Russia’s overall foreign policy course and facilitate a fuller use of potential in our relations with other countries, contribute to sustainable socioeconomic growth of the regions and prosperity of the people. The Foreign Ministry’s regional offices have a big role to play in this.


I am pleased to say that our regional offices are dealing with their tasks successfully overall and maintain close working contacts with the offices of the Presidential plenipotentiary envoys to the federal districts, regional governments and regional offices of federal executive bodies.


Regional delegations travelling abroad receive the requisite amount of consultations and information assistance. Work is underway together with the regional governments to review interregional agreements in order to increase the practical results of their implementation. I believe that we should do this regularly, so as to terminate obsolete agreements and fill the gaps that can emerge in the context of new tasks facing the regions.

I would like to thank you for your assistance to the international presentations of the regions, for conducting regular work to sel ect and arrange investment projects for their submission to the interested Russian missions in other countries.


This important work helps our ambassadors and consular staff get their bearings when working to attract investment from their host country to Russia’s regions, rather than just to Moscow, St Petersburg or other entities that have long become leaders in attracting foreign investment.


We have taken note of your contribution to the implementation of the State Programme to Assist Voluntary Resettlement of Compatriots Living Abroad to the Russian Federation. It is gratifying that cooperation with the Foreign Ministry’s regional offices has been positively assessed by the President’s plenipotentiaries, governors and inspection groups from the Central Office.


Of course, we are not going to rest on our laurels. We must continue to monitor compliance with laws concerned with the coordination of the Russian regions’ international ties and foreign economic relations and also contribute to awareness-raising campaigns, including with the use of modern communication technology.


I urge you to keep working to help Crimea, including by attracting foreign investments to this region and providing objective information about the situation in Crimea. The foreign partners working in your regions will benefit fr om learning the truth.


I am convinced that we will continue working creatively. Be assured of our support. We try to analyse your problems as thoroughly as possible and settle them quickly and effectively.


Today we want to hear your comments regarding our tasks. I am sure that following this meeting we will prepare a detailed roadmap for further work in this area.

I would like to express gratitude to Alexander Zhdankov, an auditor with Russia’s Accounts Chamber, for his contribution, which was very useful.

Source - MFA of Russia