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Dear Alexander Alexandrovich,

Ladies and gentlemen,


I am grateful for the invitation to speak again at the Primakov Readings. This is one of the most authoritative (although probably the youngest) international platforms for interested, professional dialogue. I would like to thank the IMEMO leadership for initiating this platform and for the organizational work done to prepare the current meeting, despite the pandemic restrictions.

I greet all the participants of the forum – representatives of the Russian and foreign expert and political science community. Dialogue at the current stage on all issues of the “universe” is extremely necessary.

The readings are inextricably linked with the intellectual heritage of E.M. Primakov, a great statesman. It was during his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation that the principles of modern foreign policy of our country were laid down – independence, pragmatism, multi-vector approach, respect for international law, openness to cooperation with everyone who is ready to do this on an equal, mutually respectful basis. These principles formed the foundation of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, which was approved in 2000 after Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia and was subsequently modified. Now its edition of 2016 is in effect, but all these principles, listed by me, which were formulated by Academician E.M. Primakov, retain their continuity.

For Russia, an important advantage lies in the fact that these principles allow us to ensure the predictability and stability of our foreign policy. This is especially important in conditions when the entire world system is going through an extremely contradictory stage of its development, is in a state of increased turbulence. But, as the Chinese wisdom says, the present moment opens up great opportunities, which it is important to use for the benefit of developing cooperation in the interests of all peoples of the world. We see how the positive trends are strengthening. First of all, I would mention in this series the strengthening of new centers of economic and political influence, the democratization of interstate relations in general. This process, by the way, was “predicted” back in the mid-1990s by Yevgeny Maksimovich in his concept of the formation of a multipolar world.

Russia will actively contribute to the continuation of peaceful changes in the direction of polycentricity based on the collective leadership of the leading states in solving global problems. But we are realists and cannot ignore the stubborn, I would even say, aggressive reluctance of our Western colleagues to recognize this objective reality as it is. We cannot ignore the desire of the collective West to secure itself a privileged position in the world arena, no matter what the cost. An indicator of the state of mind in the leading Western countries will be the results of the upcoming summits of the G7, NATO and in the US-EU format.

Not only Russia, but also many others are faced with the fact that the representatives of the West are not ready for an honest dialogue based on facts, preferring to act in the spirit of “high-level like”. There are many examples of this approach. This undoubtedly undermines the credibility of the very idea of ​​dialogue as a way of resolving differences and erodes the possibilities of diplomacy as an essential tool of foreign policy.

All the more irrational and hopeless is the zeal with which our Western colleagues set about promoting the notorious concept of a “rules-based world order.” Rules are always needed. Let me remind you that the UN Charter is also a set of rules, but rules that are universally accepted, agreed upon by all members of the international community, and are not questioned by anyone. This is called international law. The UN Charter is the main part of international law, its foundation. Our Western colleagues, when they move away from using the term “international law” and use the expression “world order based on rules”, mean something completely different: the development in Western-centric formats of certain concepts and approaches that later stand out as the ideal of multilateralism, for the ultimate truth … Such actions are being taken in the field of chemical weapons, in the field of journalism, in the field of cyber security, and international humanitarian law. There are universal organizations on all these issues, but our colleagues, primarily in the EU and also in the United States, want to promote their concept in each of these areas. There is no clear answer to the question why not to do this in the highest structure of multilateralism – in the UN. We understand that, of course, it is much more difficult to promote some of our initiatives, to reach agreements in a universal format, where there are not only “obedient” members of the Western club, but there are Russia, China, India, Brazil, and African countries. Let’s see how this concept of a “rules-based world order” will be refracted in the results of the already announced events, including the so-called. the summit of democracies announced by US President John Biden, as well as multilateralism initiatives announced by French President Eduard Macron and a number of other leaders.

I am convinced that we cannot ignore the immutable fact that the current world order is the sum of the agreements of the victorious powers in World War II. Russia will object to those who want to question the outcome of this war. We cannot and will not play along with those who want to try to reverse the natural course of history. By the way, we have no superpower ambitions, no matter how someone tries to convince themselves and everyone else of the opposite. We do not have that messianic fervor with which our Western colleagues are trying to spread their value, “democratizing” agenda to the entire planet. It has long been clear to us that the imposition of development models from outside does not lead to anything good. Look at the Middle East, North Africa, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan.

The specificity of the current moment is that the coronavirus pandemic has significantly accelerated the course of events, while not only not resolving the existing problems, but also generating new challenges. I am referring to the general economic downturn, the rupture of supply chains, the growing mood of isolationism, geopolitical opportunism. At the same time, this common misfortune through all these aggravated problems has become a reminder of the unprecedented interdependence of all members of the international community. No one can “sit out in a quiet haven.” This is probably one of the main lessons that we need to learn.

Russia stands for cooperation with everyone, I stress once again, on the basis of mutual respect, equality, and the search for a balance of interests. We see an independent value in every international partner – both in bilateral affairs and in multilateral spheres. We value friendship with everyone who reciprocates and is ready to seek honest agreements, and not try to work with ultimatums and unilateral demands.

The issues that we are ready to discuss cover almost all relevant areas of human life: security, trade, environmental protection, climate protection, digital transformation, artificial intelligence and much more.

Russia is promoting its approaches in the Eurasian space. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) operate on the principles I have mentioned. These associations are built exclusively on the principles of voluntariness, equality and common benefit. There are no “bosses” and “subordinates” here. All these organizations work for constructive purposes and are not directed against anyone, much less pretend to spread the so-called. narrowly formulated values ​​for the entire globe, demanding their observance from all states without exception, as we observe in a number of other integration structures.

Strengthening comprehensive engagement with China is among our unconditional priorities. This year we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the great bilateral Treaty on Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. In the same row, and the deepening of a particularly privileged strategic partnership with India. That is how it is called in the documents that were adopted at the highest level. We are expanding cooperation with ASEAN members and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. We are doing this in line with the unifying philosophy underlying the initiative put forward by Russian President Vladimir Putin to promote the formation of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. It is open to all, without exception, the countries of our common Eurasian continent, belonging to which dramatically increases the comparative advantages in a highly competitive world for all Eurasian countries on the understanding that they will enjoy these natural, God-given advantages, and not try to draw new dividing lines on the continent and deepen the old.

The concept that I am talking about – the Greater Eurasian Partnership – is, in principle, supported by both China and India. It is highly appreciated within the SCO. We are discussing it with the ASEAN countries. We are open to talking with the EU as a natural neighbor on this vast continent.

I believe that forums such as Primakov’s Readings are ideal platforms for discussing ideas that arise in this regard. Surely, there may be some alternative approaches, but we want the discussion to be turned to the future in the interests of all countries of this vast region.

Russia will continue to actively contribute to the resolution of international conflicts. We are working in Syria, helping to restore a peaceful life after we stopped the bloodshed in Nagorno-Karabakh. We are actively promoting international efforts for settlement in Afghanistan, Libya, around Iran, on the Korean Peninsula, and in many other “hot spots”.

I am not talking about this in order to draw attention to our achievements. We do not have an inferiority complex (just as there is no “usefulness complex” in world politics), but we are always ready to provide assistance to those who need it. This is our historical mission, it goes back to centuries of our history. Therefore, we will continue, including on such seemingly unsolvable problems as the Middle East settlement. We are actively seeking the earliest possible resumption of the work of the Quartet of International Mediators, and we are promoting the Concept of ensuring collective security in the Persian Gulf zone. The meetings of the leaders of Israel and Palestine in Moscow are open for the earliest possible organization. For obvious reasons, now we need to wait for the results of the internal political processes in Israel. But, to our great regret, our repeated, perennial reminders that it is impossible to promote the Concept of normalizing relations between Israel and Arabs to the detriment of the Palestinian problem were ignored. I think this is one of the most serious problems that will only get worse.

We are actively promoting the task of agreeing, already in a multilateral format, within the framework of the UN, the rules of responsible behavior in the information space. We are promoting cooperation in the fight against coronavirus. I want to emphasize that contrary to what the West is trying to ascribe to us, we are invariably interested in pragmatic, mutually beneficial relations with anyone, including the West itself – be it the United States or its NATO allies, or the EU. We are promoting a whole series of initiatives to prevent the complete collapse of agreements and understanding in the field of disarmament, arms control, and nonproliferation after the Americans destroyed many of the treaties, for example, START III. We have proposed organizing a voluntary moratorium on their deployment, at least in Europe. Despite the mechanisms we have proposed to verify such a moratorium, the West is still avoiding an honest conversation, just as for more than two years now the NATO members have been simply chatting up our extremely specific proposals aimed at de-escalation and reducing the military threat along the entire contact line between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance.

We are ready to work together with any partner, but there will be no “one-sided game”. Neither sanctions nor ultimatums are good enough to try to talk to us and reach some kind of agreement.

In conclusion, I will quote E. Primakov: “A strong Russia today should not be associated with a threat to stability in the world. Only the inertia of thinking can lead to the conclusion about the danger emanating from Russia … ”. Russia will never turn away from its fundamental values; it will be faithful to its spiritual origins and its stabilizing role in international politics. Therefore, we will continue to do everything necessary to firmly but non-confrontationally advance our national interests and establish cooperation with the widest range of states. The only thing I will emphasize is that we should not take our readiness for dialogue with any partner for weakness. Russian President Vladimir Putin not so long ago, in response to the West’s ultimatums, stressed that we ourselves will determine the “red lines” in relations with foreign partners and, above all, we will defend our views on the world order, on how to develop international relations, in full compliance with the principles and values ​​that are enshrined not in someone’s narrowly agreed documents, but in the UN Charter.


To be continued…

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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