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On November 28, 2017, the Reception House of the Russian Foreign Ministry hosted the General Meeting of Russian International Affairs Council. The Meeting was opened by Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Chairman of RIAC Board of Trustees. The video and the speech are published on MFA of Russia and RIAC websites.
RIAC President Igor Ivanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation from 1998 to 2004, reviewed the results of the Council's work in 2017, presented the main lines for RIAC work in the following year. Mr. Ivanov underscored that RIAC key task is intellectual focus on the foreign policy and organization of informal international communication on most pending international issues.
Andrey Kortunov, RIAC Director General, elaborated on the plans for the project work of the Council in 2018, noting the successes and challenges for the organization in building up interaction with international and Russian partners. A. Kortunov stated that RIAC main mission at the present stage could be working towards increasing the manageability of the modern system of international relations.
In the course of discussion Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, gave answers to the questions on most topical issues of the world politics; the participants of the meeting made several suggestions for RIAC project work in 2018.
By the decision of the General Meeting Igor Morgulov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, RIAC member, was elected as member of RIAC Presidium.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the Russian International Affairs Council’s general meeting, Moscow, November 28, 2017Mr Ivanov, colleagues, friends,
I’m pleased to participate in the Russian International Affairs Council’s general meeting devoted to its performance in 2017. Although the year is not out yet, it is already clear that it was, to put it mildly, by far not the easiest.
Conflicts continue to increase. Constructive interstate cooperation is on the decline, unfortunately. Unipolarity throwbacks raise concerns as one centre of international influence wants to act like a hegemon resorting to fast-track decisions, military blackmail, and brute force in order to promote its goals.
The situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula remains complex. Turbulence in the Middle East persists. Even though a major blow has been dealt to the terrorists who holed up there, we have so far failed to transform the mixed but generally useful experience gained by various stakeholders in forming a global anti-terrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN, the idea of which, as you are well aware, was advanced by President Putin about two years ago.
Given these circumstances, major crises continue to plague Libya, Iraq, and Yemen. Major agreements, which we consider an example of constructive multilateral cooperation, are in jeopardy. I’m referring, in particular, to the Iranian nuclear programme issue. Growing tension in the Persian Gulf not only in relation to Iran, but between the Arab monarchies as well, are of concern to us. The internal political crisis in neighbouring Ukraine has not been settled because of the Kiev authorities’ absolute unwillingness to comply with the Minsk Agreements in the part that concerns them, and the aspirations of Kiev’s Western curators to encourage such a position.
On the plus side, I would like to note the results of the meeting of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran in Sochi which took place on November 22, the resumed Geneva talks between the Syrian Government and the opposition groups, and preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress. All of this seeks to promote the political process in Syria in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. Russia's strategic interaction with a number of large states, including within BRICS and the SCO, continues to expand. The unification processes and projects in Eurasia actively continue, and major work is being done to harmonise the integration projects.
Overall, we are now going through a stage of mixed trends, which will continue. The world has entered a period of transformation. As one of the geopolitical centres and one the most active international players, Russia actively participates in forming a new, more just and democratic polycentric world order, the formation of which is a fact and a reality. This is a process, which, of course, will last for a long time.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing relentless attempts to reverse this process, which, we believe, are one of the main reasons for today's tensions in international relations.
Given these circumstances, clear understanding of the prospects for global development, and comprehensive understanding of the key trends in international affairs has taken on special significance. RIAC’s contribution to addressing these important tasks is significant, and its activities in 2017 deserve high praise. Much has been done in many different areas.
This is confirmed by objective measures, such as the number of publications and events. I will not list them all. The Council is confidently implementing its primary mission which is to promote Russia’s foreign policy interests.
In this regard, I will note the ever growing role of the Council as a provider of expert support for Russian diplomacy. The traditional international conference on Russia-China relations held in May is a case in point. It is gratifying to know that this successful undertaking has spread to include Russia-India cooperation. I’m referring to the conference, Russia and India: Strategic Vision of Bilateral Relations and the Changing World Order, which was held in October. I believe it’s important for this conference, just like the events on the Chinese matters, to become traditional for the Council.
I consider it important to continue to expand both the coverage of important international stories as well as the number of foreign partners. Given the current complicated situation, the role of interaction via experts and international affairs pundits in supporting the bilateral dialogue, and keeping our partners updated about our assessments, is growing. Joint research, which is another RIAC’s important area of focus, also contributes to this mission.
It is comforting to know that education remains one of the Council’s key functions, which is implemented in various forms, including summer schools, webinars, lectures, and breakfasts with experts. The updated version of the Council's website launched in May has already become one of the most popular Russian media platforms offering high-quality analytical material on important international topics. Notably, we have attained the level of leading Western websites in this area.
The Ministry values its interaction with the Council. We are proud of the fact that this year Sergey Kislyak, who is present here, became one of its members, and Alexander Kramarenko became its programme director for development.
In general, I believe that the Council, which was established in 2011, has gained a strong form in the second five-year period of its activities. Dynamic and profound changes that the modern world is experiencing, the tasks that all of us who are involved in international relations and Russia’s foreign policy are faced with are becoming more complicated.
I’m confident that the Council will continue to successfully maintain its reputation as the leading domestic think tank providing expert and analytical support for the needs of Russia’s foreign policy.
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