Speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia S. V. Lavrov on the Jubilee International Conference «Russia in the world of force of the XXI century» dedicated to the 20-th anniversary of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and the 10-th anniversary of the journal «Russia in Global Affairs», Moscow, December 1, 2012
Dear Sergey Alexandrovich,
Dear Fedor Alexandrovich,
First of all let me read out the congratulatory message of the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin.
«I welcome the participants of the Conference of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy dedicated to the 20-th anniversary of the Council creation and the 10-th anniversary of the journal «Russia in Global Affairs».
Over the years, the Council has grown into the authoritative public organization uniting the prominent Russian politicians and government officials, entrepreneurs, leaders of business associations, science representatives and the media.
The Council contributes to the development of the active foreign policy course of Russia, forming of the positions on key global problems and approaches to solving of the actual issues of defense and security. The commitment to the national interests of Russia has always been at the heart of its activities. And the objective and professional assessment of current global processes have earned respect for CFDP as the independent and one of the most influential analytical centers in our country.
Discussion meetings, seminars, joint research projects holding by Council contribute to the development of the Russian expert community contacts with leading foreign academic institutions, state and political organizations. Intellectual potential accumulated by the CFDP is used in the informational-educational work of the journal «Russia in Global Affairs», which won the recognition of professionals and anyone interested in international relations.
I am sure that the members of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the editorial staff of the journal «Russia in Global Affairs» will continue to contribute to the promotion of Russian interests abroad, strengthening of the influence of our country in the world.
I wish the participants of the Conference the fruitful work, success and all the best.»
I would like to draw your attention that the message is very informal, informative. This emphasizes the respect, which Council enjoys from the side of the leadership of the country and all those involved in foreign policy.
For my part, I would like to say the following. We have long been working under the «umbrella» of the CFDP. This work contributed to the crystallization of the key principles of Russian foreign policy doctrine, such as pragmatism, openness, and multi-vector, consistent defend of national interests, but without confrontation. These principles were reaffirmed in the Decree of the President of Russia signed along with other directives on May 7 of this year, in the day of the inauguration, which is dedicated to the issues of the implementation of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation. The same principles will be consolidated, developed, expanded and refined — in view of recent events — in new edition of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, the work on which was performed in accordance with the said Decree, and now we report it to the President.
Of course, not all ideas and projects developed by the CFDP come to life, but many of them are realized. The main thing is that the work of the Council really helps to broaden the intellectual horizon of Russian foreign policy. Certainly in the future the developments of the Council will be involved in our practical work, as it was in the past.
I would like to say a few words on the subject of today’s conference. I presume that the organizers formulated it very broadly that the meeting participants could have the opportunity to make observations, which they consider the most important and relevant. I will try to take advantage of it.
First of all, I would say that we really live in the world of profound changes, and it is not a figure of speech, but the particular reality. And these changes, as it usually happens in history, do not develop for someone’s scenario, and often despite any estimates and forecasts. It is enough to say that globalization process has not quite the reverse, on which its followers expected twenty years ago. It was assumed that after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist system the developed Western countries and major corporations will spread its influence around the world without any restrictions, but a liberal-democratic system will become the choiceless «beacon», to which all «lagging» people will seek. In fact, the large benefits from the globalization were won by many developing countries created the modern industry and significantly improved the welfare of the population, while the developed countries experienced the process of de-industrialization, the reducing of the middle class interlayer and increasing of social stratification.
Now we are talking about the search of solutions that would overcome the deep structural imbalances of the economy in Europe and the United States, and the prospect of China enter on positions of the leading economic power within next 5-6 years. So, apparently, we are talking on the conversion of the yuan in the main backup currency. At this moment there are no signs of course changing to continue the inflationary pumping of the United States economy, and the crisis in the Eurozone takes protracted nature. In general it can be expected that in next twenty years there will be the development of radically new view of the world, and this requires the painful process of readjustment of international relations.
In this regard, I would like to draw attention to the conclusion made by the Academician S.P. Kapitsa turning in the final stage of life to the historical issues. He quite clearly demonstrated that the historical process continuously accelerates, and every subsequent stage of history is twice shorter related to previous time. I think we all feel this reality.
Many factors suggest that there is the start of new historical stage. Speaking specifically about Russia, this is clearly linked with both pros and cons, and the risks and new opportunities. On the one hand, we do not really know how our processes in the West turn around having in mind primarily the EU, which is our main partner in trade, investment and technological cooperation, and as the consumer of Russian hydrocarbons. On the other hand, with such a radical « retaking of cards», probably, it will be possible to start many things with a clean slate, and not all of the rules governing the international hierarchy today will be applicable in the future. For example, it is possible that, as stated in the pre-conference abstracts, that it will be important not where any technology was created, but the ability to use it better. In this regard, Russia has obvious advantages with its literate, daring population and huge resources.
Today nobody argues with the fact that the emerging international system is the polycentric by definition. From this the leading brain centers in Europe, the United States and Russia start in their analysis. Another thing that no one can say exactly what the contours of world order of the 21-st century will be taken, how stable and efficient will it be. As one of the main goals of Russian foreign policy we consider to facilitate that the international system will be fair and democratic, ideally — self-regulating. This can be achieved only by truly collective, partner actions of the leading «players» in the international arena. It is also clear that the transfer of this maxim to the practical level, with which everything seems to agree, is the difficult and slow process.
We are far enough away from the ideas circulated in the early 90′s that the world is moving in the direction of some unified model representing the countless replicas of western style with the addition of some local folklore. Now it is clear that in the case of the recognition of a market economy and democratic principles of state structure as the main channel of the historical process, the multiplicity centers of power and influence requires the multiplicity of development models. Moreover, the tendency of strengthening of the factor value of the civilizational identity noted by S. Huntington marked clearer. In an era of decline of colonial empires and the prevalence of nationalist or revolutionary — in any case Western in their roots — ideologies it could not imagine that after half a century the powerful revival of Islamic self-consciousness will happen. That it will be the strengthening of commitment to lean on their civilizational roots in Asia, other parts of the world. In international politics it can lead either to conflict increasing, or to understanding of the need for partnership on new basis responding to modern realities.
The solution of this dilemma is largely due to the fact, and it will depend on what course of action will our Western partners and above all the United States of America elect. I have recently read an article M. Sieff «The Closing of the Conservative Mind» in the journal «The American Conservative». The author notes that the United States tried the Soviet shoes in the attempt to extend the world revolution, this time – democratic. He writes that history has repeatedly proven the futility of politics of the revolutionary transformation of the world mentioning in this regard Robespierre, Napoleon and Trotsky. We must agree with M. Sieff that imposing of own political and socio-economic system by others in most cases causes the opposite reaction and may contribute to extremist, repressive forces pushing the prospect of real democratic change.
This is one of the fundamental issues of contemporary international politics directly related to the topic of the future world order. And we are talking not about the fact that Russia «coasting» confronts with Western influence, or «out of spite» throws sand in the wheels of the projects initiated by the West. The fact is that the policy of promoting of democracy by «blood and iron» simply does not work. We see this in our day, in the last one and a half year or even decade. Everybody knows Iraq, the continuing problems in this country. Nobody does fully understand what will be in the Middle East.
The risk of forcible imposition of democracy is that it leads to the strengthening of elements of chaos and it can turn as serious crisis of control at the global level. This danger is felt today all quite clearly. My French colleague L. Fabius has recently spoken about the fears of appearance not multipolar, but «multi-divided» world. Given that the world can not be combined under the auspices of the United States or under the «umbrella» of NATO, the answer to these concerns can only be the turn to the genuine partnership — and in the Euro-Atlantic area, and at the global level.
In his recent article reprinted by the journal «Russia in Global Affairs» G. Kissinger provided the compelling arguments proving the failure of reliance on force to advance the United States interests including the distribution of their own set of values. He stressed in this regard that to adapt the United States foreign policy to the internal circumstances of other societies and the factors related to their national security does not mean to refuse of the principles. This is only the understanding of the advantages of the evolutionary and civilized progress towards achieving of the goals. It is hard to disagree with it.
G. Kissinger notes the grotesque nature of approach contrast known as realpolitik, and the course based on values. Obviously, in today’s world it should be a reasonable combination of these concepts given the same futility of «crusades» and politics lost the moral support.
We are for the arranging of basic set of values that can help to build the foundation of the system based on the partnership of civilizations. If the values are common, then we have to work out them together refusing to messianism, which brings obvious harm in politics. The risk of recurrence of colonial thinking should be obvious, when it is offered, for example, that for the sake of Syrian the foreign «players» agreed on the principles of a new political dispensation in the SAR.
We are convinced that the basis for the common scale of values can be found only in the traditions tuned within thousands years, spiritual-moral denominator, which is common for the major world religions including such principles and concepts as the pursuit to peace and justice, dignity, freedom and responsibility, honesty, compassion, diligence and morality.
As I think, Russian political science has more intellectual freedom, and ii is the need to continue using of this our advantage trying to understand what path the historical development in the medium and long term will go. Of course, the forecasting at the steep historic turn is extremely difficult and thankless task.
It seems that the constant magnitude in our thinking about the place of Russia in world politics of the XXI century should be the confirmation of the independent political course of our country. The independence of foreign policy of Russia — this is our achievement, won during the preceding centuries of history and experience of the last 20 years. I am convinced that our country simply can not exist as a «crotch» to one or another world leader. In this context the recent statement comes to mind said by the former chairman of the European Commission, the former Prime Minister of Italia R. Prodi that in today’s world only three states fully retained the sovereignty — the United States, China and Russia. This is the exaggeration, of course, but it is remarkable.
We see ourselves and really are one of the centers of the new polycentric world. This status of Russia is determined by its military, geographical, economic opportunities, its culture and human potential. It also defined by the fact that in international affairs our country firmly stands on the positions of right and justice. The rule of law must be ensured in the international arena. This allows Russia playing the balancing and stabilizing role, which is increasingly in demand by our international partners, and even those of them, who can not imagine themselves outside the alliance with the United States and NATO.
Of course — and this thesis has been repeatedly stressed by the President of Russia V. V. Putin — this approach has nothing to do with isolationism. We were already deeply integrated into the global processes and set to move along this path further. I am confident that we will realize in practice that the accession of Russia to the WTO does indeed lead to the deep changes of «rules of the game» and the overall atmosphere in the Russian economy.
We see ourselves as the country that has consistently deepen the integration ties with its neighbors. Of course, first we are talking about Eurasian integration, which we view as the long-term and mutually beneficial project. But it is not all. We have consistently expressed views in favor of entering in the bold, ambitious targets of the convergence to the European Union. The President V. V. Putin has recently put forward the idea of creating of common economic and human space. We believe that there is no alternative besides parallel course for integration into the Asia-Pacific region.
I know that for many years S. A. Karaganov has been defending the thesis on the «Union of Europe», and how difficult to implement it in real life. But ultimately it is the question of political will, the desire to define the conditions, under which such concept may be workable. This causes a lot of thinking in Western capitals. In this direction there are the ideas expressed in Germany and France, as well as reflections in the last book of Z. Brzezinski. But this should not be the incorporation of Russia in the West, but namely the equal convergence.
From civilizational point of view — and its significance increases, as I said, in our view- Russia is the part of the «big» European civilization together, of course, with North America. So for us there is no problem in regard to implementation of the «European choice» through the real mutually respectful interaction and integration.
In general, I find it very strange, when our conversations with Western partners at times reminds the situation, as if there were no other powerful centers of power, or the West is still, as in the 1990s., claimed to be the arbiter of the destinies of mankind. It seems that huge shifts took place over the last 20 years — the emergence of powerful centers of economic growth, financial strength and political influence – are not seen in the practical politics of some Western partners.
I am convinced that the unwinding of the confrontational mood in the Euro-Atlantic area is politically untenable, dead end. In any case, it is not our choice.
In the themes of this conference the issue on the efforts to strengthen the defense capabilities of Russia raises. In my view, there is no doubt that in the turbulent world around us it is not the «status» issue, but the urgent necessity, because it is the only way that the security of the country can be reliably assured.
In this regard, I will mention that in recent years there are a lot of talks about the factor of force in international relations. Supposedly after the changes at the turn of the 1990s the role of this factor should be reduced, but at this historical period we see it’s strengthening. Thesis, which we are not tired to repeat — all of our predictions relatively optimal ways of the development of Russia make sense only in conditions of maintaining of international stability. This is the reflection of the real situation. If we accept this thesis, then the accumulation of elements of tension in international relations is the cause for concern. And the tension amasses, as evidenced by the increase in the number and intensity of international conflicts.
We know what consequences are resulted in UNSC unauthorized external military intervention in the affairs of other states. We see the attempts to make the «Libyan model» precedent-related. It should be noted another aspect: in times of economic crises there is the temptation to resort to the military solution of the problems. Such trend is not alien to some of our partners. The military conflict has already been used and can be used in the future in order to «shake up» the situation, set priorities in a new way, and «reset» the obligations somewhere. I am sure that you will talk about this in more detail at the conference.
In conclusion, I will say a few words about the «soft power». Obviously, this is one of the main components of the international influence of states. I can not argue with the fact that Russia is well behind in this area. Russian world is the tremendous resource to strengthen Russia’s prestige in the world, and we need to work actively and purposefully for its saving and development to on a daily basis. I note that with the arrival in Rossotrudnichestvo of another member of CFDP K. I. Kosachev there is the serious planning about harnessing of this resource. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will actively cooperate with Konstantin Iosifovich in his official capacity. It is important not only to spread the Russian language and culture, but also to expand educational opportunities in Russian. This is something we also talk in practical terms, when saying on official business.
The share of Russia in the global information space is really still small. But the first steps were made. TV channels «Russia Today» and «Rusiya al-Yaum» are successful projects. In the United Kingdom, «Russia Today» ranks third in popularity. Modern technology including the Internet make information flows more democratic. This should be actively used. But in general, we have the opportunities to be heard, and they are expanding.
I congratulate all with the double anniversary and confirm the readiness to continue working closely with the CFDP.