23 July 2018
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Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko: History proves the need for collective leadership

Global development processes are going through a transition phase, and so are international relations. What we may be witnessing now is yet another change of epochs. This change also marks the completion of processes of various durations Р from the Cold War and its intellectual and geostrategic momentum to the 500-year long domination of the West in global politics, economics and finance.
What is happening now has clear causes. We shouldn't panic when trying to respond to the current developments. We need to have a cold-eyed analysis in a broader historical context making use of the categories going beyond the narrow framework of the ideological discourse of the Cold War. History didnХt start in 1945, and neither did international relations. We can draw some really reassuring conclusions from this broader unbiased perspective and identify the real potential for convergence and synthesis in North Atlantic politics.
Seeing things in a historical perspective is not just useful, but often imperative. Upsetting the European balance, which had secured peace in Europe for more than 40 years, the Crimean War started the countdown for the First World War and the tragedies that occurred in Europe and the world throughout the 20th century. It paved the way for the aggressive nationalistic mutual demonisation of the leading European nations as an excuse for not only the war, but also the subsequent humiliation of the loser, including its territorial partition. Russia was followed by Denmark, Austria, France and, finally, Germany, which caused a collapse of the European and world order.

Karl Jaspers wrote in the middle of the 20th century that there could be two options for the world to continue: either a global empire or a world order. The developments of the past two decades make it clear that the former option is impossible, which makes the latter the only one worth pursuing.
History also shows that we shouldn't take what we have for granted, especially the United Nations, which was quite wisely established to balance our multipolar world. The bipolar confrontation became a time warp. We can't tear it all down to the ground the way Bolsheviks and Puritan fanatics before them wanted to; to build a whole new world from scratch while denying others their right of salvage.

The question is how the UN has managed to adapt to reality. However, the fundamental health of the postwar adjustment shouldn't be questioned. This includes the principles of the UN Charter and international rule of law.

The main feature of the current epoch is the variety of scenarios, according to which things can develop, and the lack of definiteness, hence the need for diplomatic instruments to pursue flexibility. There are no more reasons to have the cumbersome military and political alliances of the past. A network of multivector diplomacy is a good alternative. It has been Russia's official strategy since the Foreign Policy Concept was adopted in July 2008. Since then, this idea has gained public support, including in the United States and the UK.

An essential common denominator is for all countries to make development challenges their chief priority. Everyone agrees that sustainable socioeconomic (as well as other) development is a key foreign policy resource. It should become a rallying principle, because unlike in the colonial epoch, global development can't remain a zero-sum game.

The new challenges and threats emphasise the need for bringing development levels closer, the more so because the growth potential of large dynamic developing economies and ordinary developing economies is to become the main source of the economic revival of the industrially developed nations.
To effectively address the insecurity issue, one needs to overcome the downturn and restore its paying capacity.

Globalisation (and Gordon Brown was speaking about the threat of de-globalisation) calls for a new level of understanding. So far, unfortunately, it has addressed challenges in the same way empires did in the past, namely, it has exploited development potential in a zero-sum game. Only "capital-intense" social groups became winners, which impaired social integrity. Incomes on investments were essentially removed from the country, disregarding national development priorities. It appears that this globalisation pattern became one of the reasons behind the current crisis in the West, the kind of crisis that virtually eliminated the middle class in one European country.
The "new" players will get what they want sooner or later, albeit based on their own development progress and benefiting from other nations' development experience. A challenge for "old" players is how to formulate their foreign policy objectives in a way for them to be compatible with the interests of the international community as a whole. This would be possible if all nations were making concerted efforts to tackle the entire range of international problems, including the form of collective leadership of the leading nations of the world. This mutual engagement envisions the phasing down of unilateral response, let alone forceful response.

The article is based on a speech given at the recent conference Global Power Shifts in Ditchley Park.


24.06.2018 - Greeting by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko for the Znaniye school Family Day (Ealing, 24 June 2018)

Dear friends and guests, I am delighted to welcome you at a Family Day celebrating Russia and the World Cup. Today, Russia is the place to be for the whole world. It is a great pleasure to hear fans from all continents appreciating Russia’s hospitality, friendliness and openness to everyone. Right now, people from virtually every country see the 11 host cities, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals on the border of Europe and Asia, and realize how diverse and beautiful our country is. We’d like to bring a bit of Russia and the excitement of the World Cup to Ealing, for those who couldn’t make it to the tournament. By the way, so far both our teams are doing very well, and let us hope they keep up this good work. We cheer for both Russia and England but I’m afraid this can change if both teams meet at the semi-finals.

20.06.2018 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions at the Primakov Readings international forum, Moscow, May 30, 2018

Mr Dynkin, Colleagues and friends, Ladies and gentlemen, I am grateful for a new opportunity to speak at the international forum named after Academician Evgeny Primakov, an outstanding Russian statesman, academic and public figure. It is indeed a great honour for me. I consider Mr Primakov, with whom I worked at the Foreign Ministry in the latter half of the 1990s, my senior comrade and teacher, as probably do the majority of those who crossed paths with him at one point. Holding this representative conference under the aegis of one of Russia’s leading academic institutes – National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) that also bears Primakov’s name – has become a good tradition. The Primakov Readings have earned a reputation as a venue for serious dialogue of authoritative specialists on the most pressing issues of international politics and the global economy. Today, there is no lack of buzzwords used by politicians, experts and scientists to capture the current moment in international relations. They talk about the crisis of the “liberal world order” and the advent of the post-Western era, “hot peace” and the “new cold war”. The abundance of terms itself shows that there is probably no common understanding of what is happening. It also points to the fairly dynamic and contradictory state of the system of international relations that is hard to characterise, at least at the present stage, with one resounding phrase. The authors of the overarching theme of the current Primakov Readings probably handled the challenge better than others. In its title “Risks of an unstable world order’ they provocatively, and unacademically, combine the words “unstable” and “order”.

21.04.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's talking points at the Press Conference, 20 April 2018

Since we met last time a lot of events took place: - Military strikes of the United States, UK and France against Syria in violation of the international law - Mission by OPCW inspectors to Douma - Speech of Prime Minister May in Parliament in support of the British aggression against Syria - Special meeting of the OPCW Executive Council (18 April 2018) - New developments in the classified case of Salisbury poisoning of Skripal family - No meaningful developments on the Glushkov case - and Cyber security threats I plan to comment all these issues. And I will be happy to answer all our questions, if you have any.

17.03.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's interview for "Mail on Sunday" (full text)

Q: Bearing in mind that the US, France and Germany have said they agree with Britain that all the evidence suggests the attacks in Salisbury were the responsibility of the Russian state, what credibility can be placed on the denials issued by the Russian Government? A:We don't know if UK presented any evidence to US, France and Germany - highly likely none - but if they did, why not present it through the channels outlined in the Chemical Weapons Convention? Universal legal principle is presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof lies with the British Government. Its record includes the Iraq WMD dossier - you will remember that at some point doubting US and UK claims was considered a wild conspiracy theory. It is not any more.

26.01.2018 - Main foreign policy outcomes of 2017

In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable external environment for our country's progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the SCO, the OSCE, and the CSTO. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the international community.

17.01.2018 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the unveiling of memorial plaque in Sayes Court Park

Dear Mayor, Dear Councillors, Lady Joan, Ladies and gentlemen, It is now 320 years ago that a truly remarkable man set foot in Deptford. As you know, the Russian Tsar Peter, later named the Great, visited Western Europe in 1697—1698 under the nickname of Peter Mikhailov, with his Grand Embassy. He was eager to find out about the latest achievements in science and technology and create new diplomatic alliances. Of course, England couldn’t escape his attention. He mostly studied shipbuilding at the famous Deptford Dockyard, but he also met King William III, and, reportedly, Isaac Newton. Peter’s landlord, the famous John Evelyn, was also a respected scientist – a founder member of the Royal Society.

13.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I am pleased to welcome you to the Russian Embassy at the Presentation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Russia 2018 Local Organising Committee. It’s a common knowledge, that football is the most popular game in the world. It is an honour for us to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in the history of our country. I believe that those who come to Russia to support their national teams will leave with unforgettable memories.

08.12.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the Roscosmos "Sputnik" exhibition launch at Rossotrudnichestvo (7 December 2017)

25.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the reception at the Embassy dedicated to Russian Film Week (24 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the outstanding Russian opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky who passed away this week. In 2015 he gave a concert in this very hall. I am delighted to welcome you at our reception dedicated to the Russian Film Week and the environmental causes it champions. This year their charity partner is World Wide Fund for Nature, which runs many projects in Russia in coordination and with support of the Russian Government. Russia has a unique, fascinating wildlife. A number of this week’s films show the natural beauty of our land and are sure to raise awareness of how fragile this beauty is. We appreciate the WWF effort in Russia and worldwide and call on everybody to become a supporter, especially this year, marked as Year of Ecology in Russia.

20.11.2017 - Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko's remarks at the launch of the Russian Film Week (19 November 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen, It is a pleasure for me to be at the opening of the second edition of the Russian Film Week here in London – which this year also spans to Cambridge and Edinburgh.

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