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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

08.11.2013

AMBASSADOR YAKOVENKO ON GLOBAL ISSUES

Euro-Atlantic facing a real global competition

Now, that the fifth year of the global financial and economic crisis is coming to an end, nobody doubts that the world has entered the period of radical transformation. The crisis of the Soviet society and of the socialist system, which has led to the end of the Cold War at the turn of 80s-90s, has now been supplemented by the crisis of the Western society, including liberal economy and broadly-based representative democracy. Thus, systemic failures in the Euro-Atlantic have become key elements of the global crisis. Given the fact that the collective experience of societal development in the space of the European civilisation boils down to these two models, that, inter alia, ensured its domination in global economy, politics and finance within the coordinates of bipolarity. In fact, the line has been drawn under the long cycle of historical development, which started with the disaster of the First World War. And like the 20th Century traces its roots to 1914, it may be assumed that the count of the 21st Century ought to start from 2008, when the crisis struck.

However, one cannot enter the same flow twice. Global politics and experiments with economic development and social order models in the 20th Century did not transcend the boundaries of the European civilisation. But now the Euro-Atlantic community is facinga real global competition from other regions of the world, their cultures and civilizations for the first time over the last two to three centuries. This is where the present stage of global development differs from the past in the most important way. Our era is characterised by pluralism, which reaches beyond the boundaries of the historical experience of Europe, by wider competition of development models and value systems. Nancy Birds all and Francis Fukuyama wrote in their article “The Post-Washington Consensus” (The Foreign Affairs, March-April 2011) that “intellectual power” is distributed in the world more and more evenly, when the crisis “puts any development model on trial”, and “Western democracies are the ones that have highlighted the risks of relying too much on market-led globalization”.

Heritage and baggage of European history

At the same time, the European history and its modus operandi continue to exist at the level of traditional categories of thinking, which are used to analyse the processes taking place in the world and to develop forecasts for the future. By the way, it is not only the narrow ideology-driven debates along capitalism vs. communism line of the Cold War times that are at issue, but also the conceptual framework and modes of social transformation of the earlier period, including the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, categories like the “social contract”, progress, violence, including as a means of resolving contradictions between the States.

And, if we take the historical heritage of Europe, it is hard to say which part of it outweighs – the negative or the positive one. The negative side consists of two world wars, imperialism, colonialism, the Cold War and its military conflicts on the periphery, environmental problems, and militarisation of economic, scientific and technical development,as well as international relations. The positive side is something we may call a civil application of scientific and technical progress, the expansion of the space of freedom by way of ensuring “compatibility of democracy and capitalism”, as well as the sustainable models of societal development in the form of socially oriented economy and broadly-based representative democracy underpinned by a significant middle class and decent level of social inequality.

Of course, nuclear deterrence was a positive factor: though dangerous, it ensured peace, stability and predictability among the leading nations of the world. The “third world war” was a virtual reality and did not go beyond strategic planning of the military. When the Cold War ended, the causes for a global war practically ceased to exist. Probably, this maybe a consequence of the slow-motion transformative implosion of the European civilisation, with the present crisis its final stage.

Timing in history: militarization and consumerism running out

It is worth noting that in terms of timing the formation of prerequisites of the two crises coincided on both sides of the “iron curtain”. On the one hand, these were might-have-been reforms of Alexei Kosygin, on the other hand, the strain of the Vietnam War, which led to abandoning the “gold standard” in the United States and a radical change in the Bretton Woods system. Generally, it may well have been caused by the exhaustion of the technological foundation of previous “big cycle” of economic development and the failure to muster political will to analyse the situation soberly. This manifested itself in stagnation in the Soviet Union and in creation of artificial sources of growth in the financial sector, the so-called “financial alchemy” (Joseph Stiglitz) in the West, which became possible thanks to its deregulation at the beginning of 1980s. It is not a surprise that the beginning of erosion of the middle class in the Western society (the lack of guaranteed jobs for graduates of higher education establishments was one of its signs) dates back to this particular period. Maybe, it was a form of stagnation and “sweeping under the carpet” the phenomena, which were given afresh lease of life by the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent “end of history” euphoria.

We may say that militarisation – a trend launched to serve the needs of exiting the Great Depression in the 30-ies of the last century in the United States and Europe and a decade earlier in Japan – has exhausted its potential, including as a source of economic growth and scientific and technical progress. This is one of characteristics of our post-military world. I am not sure that the security area overall, the creation of the so-called “National Security State” or, as they say in connection with the case of Edward Snowden, the “intelligence state”, could help the task of exiting the current crisis. Maybe, it would be right to say that the entire consumer-oriented social and cultural paradigm, which had existed for a sufficiently long time despite the Evangelic truth that “man does not live by bread alone”, exhausted itself first in the Soviet Union and then in the West. In fact, such outcome for the entire European civilisation, including the Soviet Union, was predicted by Pitirim Sorokin in 1960s. When prophecies come true, one cannot help drawing a conclusion that we are witnessing a fundamental transformation, which excludes return to the status quo ante.

Geopolitical contraction and developmentalism

A geopolitical contraction of Russia, the United States, the West, and the entire historical Europe has occurred. Therefore, it is hard to disagree with the honorary president of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policies (CFDP) Sergey Karaganovwhen he says that we are going through the period of “policies of suspension/limbo”. All the processes in the global development gained a powerful acceleration, but thought and policies simply do not keep up pace with them. I guess it is a usual characteristic of any end-game, which duly makes part of the analysis of the present stage of global development in the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation (approved by President Vladimir Putin in February 2013).

Problems of development are coming to the fore for all countries of the world and, probably even more so for the Euro-Atlantic area, given the fact that sources of economic growth in the current conditions, as a rule, are beyond the borders of the historical Europe. The awareness of it is growing as consequences of the protracted crisis accumulate. The draft “National Strategic Narrative”, proposed in April 2011 by two American military professionals Wayne Porter and Mark Mykleby, was a brave attempt at a “breakthrough to the future”. It was posted on the Internet with a preface by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who headed the Policy Planning staff of the U.S. Department of State prior to that. The main thrust of their idea comes to the need for renewal of sources of international influence of America, which means ensuring, in the first place, sustainability of its own development in all areas. According to some evidence, this demarche by the American military had chances to be successful in terms of rethinking the national security strategy of the United States rooted in the Cold Warreality and its outdated ideology. They frequently quote Saint Augustine who pleaded God to give him “chastity, but not yet”. It seems that for now the same may be said of the aspiration to define the goals and tasks of the US national strategy in non-ideology-driven categories of developmentalism. Perhaps, the book “Foreign Policy Begins At Home” by Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, will have better chances to succeed.

Russia’s choice: convergence and synthesis

It was certainly easier for Russia, which was brought down on the sinful earth much earlier because of her own circumstances, to do this journey. As soon as became possible to think through the ways of further development of the country and that was around 2000, when first substantial doctrinal documents started to appear, the fundamental conclusion was drawn on the main task of foreign policy,i.e. to create favourable external conditions for domestic development. This defines the entire philosophy of Russia’s diplomacy, if a single phrase is to be used. The movement of our partners in the same direction provides reasons to talk of a subliminal convergence at the level of the view of the world. When President Vladimir Putin addressed the recent meeting of the Valdai Forum, he talked about an ideology of development, about the need for synthesis of the best national experiences and ideas, about Russia’s openness to the best practices and ideas of both the East and the West.

If we take a broader look, in the Euro-Atlantic we,overall, are, indeed, in search of solutions for social development tasks along the lines of convergence and synthesis. Objectively, this creates conditions for overcoming the intellectual tunnel mentality of the Cold War times and shaping a corresponding dimension of the unity of the European civilisation, which is being restored, with Europe, North America and the space of the former Soviet Union making its inalienable parts.

We already had moments of convergence between the West and the East within the European civilisation in the 20th century. We saw it in 1930s after the Great Depression. We saw it in the post-war period, when “socialisation” of economies of West European countries became a direct response to the “challenge of the Soviet Union”. Later we had detente and the subsequent deepening of trade and economic cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic. Common principles of the European politics were reflected in the Helsinki Final Act. In general, a sustainable socially oriented model of economic development took shape. This model was promulgated in the modern Russia’s Constitution, which explains the social and economic policies of the Russian Government.

Russia has beenconsistentlyseeking integration into the global economy over the last 20 years. We have become a WTO member; we aspire to join the OECD. A member of the G20, we are searching,together with our partners, for ways to overcome the crisis and restore sustainability of global and national economies. It can be assumed that many things in the global affairs will be clarified, when we have left the current crisis behind. This will be a kind of a post-crisis settlement in the world.

Lessons of crisis – past and present

We will probably have to master the lessons of the events in the financial sector in the last 30 years, where artificial sources of growth were created, which distorted the general picture of the economy, including statistics. The over-size financial sector started to work for itself, ceasing to service the real economy and contribute to the creation of jobs in capital-exporting countries. This has resulted in a greater gap between the capital income and employment income with destructive consequences for the middle class, which has played the role of social pillar of the political system of broadly-based representative democracy. This could be related to a change in the paradigm of economic development with greater emphasis on its qualitative characteristics in accordance with the requirements of the current state of society, including the demographic factor. Is it possible to qualitatively strengthen economies along with their quantitative reduction like building down military potentials in disarmament?

This requires finding a solution to the problem, which the leading economic columnist of “The Financial Times” Martin Wolf called an “innate inclination towards rent”, which, it should be noted, is drawn including in the form of payments to service sovereign debt. Rent is more and more talked about, including in connection with such problems as weakening in social mobility and lifts, intergenerational antagonism, general loss of historical prospects. France of the Belle Époque provides an example of a rentier country. Is this experience of forgetting interests of development of one’s own nation (if one can just clip coupons!) being reproduced collectively by the entire historical West? We can pull down the blinds on real life at our own peril. At that time life reminded about itself with the First World War. That is why it is important to understand the state of European society and flaws of European politics of that time while thinking through today’s problems.

The frequent use of the word “jubilee” is a thing Russia and the United Kingdom have curiously in common. The British seem to be influenced by the tradition developed over the long reign of Queen Victoria. It is even more interesting that within the context of the current crisis articles start to appear, where it is used in its initial, Old Testament’s meaning. Parallels are being drawn with the high level of indebtedness, which though not like slavery, still significantly restricts the freedom of a person. If we judge by countries of the Mediterranean periphery of the Eurozone, the intolerable burden of indebtedness, primarily of sovereign debt, imposes more than trivial restrictions on the sovereignty of independent states. If we take 1971 as a starting point, when the West started to live on credit, we are pretty close to the jubilee’s length of 50 years.

Technologies and investments in people

As to new technologies, which could make basis for another large cycle of global economic development, here we should note absolute unpredictability. As William Janeway, British-American expert, writes in his book “Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy”, it just cannot be predicted, when those technologies will appear, which could lead to mass commercialisation with creation of corresponding production facilities and jobs. For example, information technologies and computerisation, including mobile communications, have significantly changed everyday life. As to economy, they have, indeed, made fundamental changes in the nature of labour, but have failed to create sufficient number of jobs, which could compensate for their loss due to outsourcing of traditional sectors of economy to other regions of the world.

Stephen D.King from HSBC in his book “When the money runs out” shares this view: “Who, after all, knows what sort of technological innovation might materialize in coming decades?” He also warns, that “the risks associated with enduring economic disappointment: inequality, nationalism, racism, revolution and warfare are, it seems, the default settings when economies persistently fail to deliver the goods”.

Thus, we can conclude that some kind of dangerous regress or pause is taking place in the development. The question arises: what do we fill it with, since life is going on? Maybe, we should invest into the human capital, which, in the final count, will resolve the problem of prospects of mankind’s further development. As President Vladimir Putin said in Valdai, it is educated and creative people, not natural resources or nuclear weapons, that will be chief source of Russia’s strength in this and succeeding centuries. It means that the countries, which will be able to create the best conditions for self-fulfilment of an individual, primarily investing into health care, education and culture, as well as infrastructure, including transport, energy and, probably, agriculture, will win in global competition. The growing role of the latter in the overall economy may be a sign of a return, after the financial “fornication”, to the original sources of human existence.

Global pause: strategies of collective action

In that regard, of particular interest is the analytical material of George Friedman, founder and president of “Stratfor” (January 2013), which studies the problem of the rise and fall of the middle class in America. The author notes that the creation of a large middle class became a by-product of post-war decisions, including some privileges to persons demobilised from the armed forces. It was not a well-thought-through strategy of ensuring sustainability of social, economic and political development of the country. This provides some food for thought, for example, it means that presently, in the conditions of crisis, it would be far too careless to rely upon chance. The experience of the last three centuries must provide sufficient material for a sober analysis of problems and for development of ways of their solution in the interests of the whole of society.

It has become a truth universally acknowledged that we are witnessing fundamental shifts in the geopolitical landscape of the world of today. This is, among other things, “diffusion” of power, influence and prosperity, including the rise of several countries, primarily BRICS, but also regional powers such as Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico, which are classified as “new dynamically developing economies”. Thanks to the crisis, the G20 has got a new lease of life and acquired a new quality (meetings of political leaders). This is a collective of major nations of the world, without which it is no longer possible to solve problems of global politics, economy and finance. It can be felt in the work of narrower formats, let us say the G8, which continues to be a forum for agreeing and coordinating approaches of member states, but a wider group of partners is needed to resolve concrete problems.

Post war settlements: the right kind

And, of course, there is no way of replacing the Charter prerogatives of the UN Security Council, which was conceived, if we take the composition of its permanent membership and the principle of their unanimity, as a regulating body for a polycentric world order. Unfortunately, very few people turn to this positive reality against the background of all the gloomy prophecies regarding the present state of the world. The UN becomes appreciated now that the “end of history “mood has been overcome. In the first place, it provides fundamental legal basis for global governance. The attempts to deny this reality are made under the pretext of some “settlement” based on the presumed outcome of the Cold War. But, as we know, such written settlement has never existed, but the set of verbal obligations towards Russia, including the non-expansion of NATO to the East, has been reneged on by our Western partners.

In any case, this so called settlement cannot be compared to the enlightened treatment of France after Napoleon’s defeat. As put then by Talleyrand, France “was rid” of “personal” territorial acquisitions of the emperor. As to the rest, France joined the “European concert” as an equal. Russia herself got rid of the ideological heritage of the Cold War and relinquished domination of Eastern Europe along the way. The only thing that did not follow was creation of a Euro-Atlantic “concert” with Russia as its equal participant. Neither OSCE by virtue of its institutional looseness, nor other common European structures solve this problem. That is why the idea of a European Security Treaty, which should at least start resolving the problem of restoring political unity of the region and, thus, reduce budgetary pressures through cuts to defence expenditure.

In fact, we return to the history-tested “concert of powers”, which secured peace in Europe in the period between the Congress of Vienna and the Crimean War. When this political order in Europe was being destroyed under the slogan of the Eastern Question, few thought of the consequences. Prejudice and instincts of political elites opposed to any rational analysis prevailed. In the opinion of British historian Orlando Figes, the “unnecessary” war in the Crimea was retrospectively the first total war – the notion, traditionally associated with the Boer Wars and the First World War. It also launched the vicious circle of humiliation and annexations in respect of the defeated, having radically changed the very atmosphere of European politics, which lost its civility. Even the two Hague Peace Conferences convened on Russia’s initiative, couldn’t reverse this trend. Today, 200 years after the Congress of Vienna, Europe and the world having learned a lesson from the bitter experience of their history, start to understand that there is no alternative to the search for consensus and a negotiated solution of problems on the basis of international law and collective global governance.

Living in a post-military era

It should be noted that with the “brakes” of nuclear confrontation no longer a reality after the end of the Cold War, the threshold of use of military force has been lowered, be it unilateral operations like in Iraq and then in Libya, or on the basis of the UN Security Council mandate like in Afghanistan. This experience of the last 20 years has led to an impasse in case of Syria, when the UNSC mandate is not an option, but a unilateral intervention bears prohibitive price, including purely military costs, consequences for one’s own economy and finance, reputational damage, etc. The truth is thus confirmed in practice, that no situation, including conflicts, can be reproduced and, as in a shop, nothing worthwhile is given just like that. There are always different circumstances. The resources required for that, including political capital, wear out.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show counter-productiveness of any attempts at unilateral and especially forceful resolution of modern international problems. These wars, like the War in Vietnam, superficially followed the logic of collective allied efforts after World War Two, including the reconstruction of Germany and Japan in conditions of a long-term occupation. No account was taken of different conditions of other regions, complete lack of willingness to assume long-term complex commitments, similar to those, undertaken by the United States in respect of South Korea and Taiwan and by the Soviet Union in respect of Mongolia. Therefore, among the key factors of the contemporary global politics, which has to be taken into consideration are, on the one hand, the inability to resolve the problems “on the cheap”, and on the other, the lack of political will and sufficient resources that are required to ensure a real success of military intervention. Max Hastings wrote in The Financial Times recently: “military success in limited interventions overseas is often meaningless without a sustained neo-colonialist follow-up, which is politically and morally unacceptable”.

The crisis the world is going through, makes a good point: what “nation building” abroad, if the same is utterly required at home? Transformative processes within the so-called “Arab spring” provide new examples of the problem. The “cheap” operation in Libya, brought about “cheap” results, not to mention undermining trust among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The West’s strategic oversight in the region has been irretrievably lost to the “Arab spring”. That is one of the factors in the Syrian situation, where regional players, pursuing diverse interests, are calling the tune. The reality of a proxy war leaves too little to outside decision. Unless, of course, the international community musters enough collective will to engineer a political settlement.

Old Habits “die hard”: why blaming Russia

Unfortunately, old habits “die hard”. Therefore, the inertia of domineering is still left in global affairs. In particular, this manifests itself at the level of culture,  which ultimately determines the behaviour of nations in international relations. The aforementioned “Stratfor” provides a good example of such political culture reflecting the aspiration to put the clock back in its analysis this summer. It constructs a geopolitical “rectangular”, composed of the United States, Europe, China and Russia. Probably, it is not bad at all that Europe is perceived as an independent player in our world. It is hard to agree to another thing, namely, to the assumption of inevitable decline of Europe and China in future. Thus, we have only America and Russia at the top again, notably as two poles of the perceived global confrontational politics within the framework of a “Little Cold War”. We could welcome the acknowledgement of a geopolitical future for Russia. But why in a format, which ought to provide excuse for the inertia in the American strategic culture? Why do they instinctively suspect Russia of gaining almost by default, from all geopolitical defeats and self-defeats of America?

Therefore, the manifestations of existence of another America are a cause of particular satisfaction. For example, the article by Thomas Graham in The International Herald Tribune (22 August 2013)analyses with arguments the trend to blame Russia for all troubles of America, including as a means of distracting attention from problems of its own development. Deserving attention is his thesis that deeper, unacknowledged psychological reason of that attitude of some in the US is that the “victory” in the Cold War can only be considered complete, if the enemy “emulates” the victor in its domestic development and in international affairs. It is evident that Russia (and we are not alone here) is not a country, which may give such satisfaction. It is a pity that such mood exists, like there are those who wouldn’t forgive us our decisive role in the victory over the Nazi Germany.

The existing gap in the development between industrially developed and developing countries, be it terms of trade or the area of finance, is explained by the same elements of political culture. Sometimes, an already forgotten term “neo-colonialism” is used, which reflects the transition from physical control to a more disguised inequality in the overall system of international relations, including the status of developing countries as a raw-material appendix, though at a higher level of development than 50 years ago. Moreover, this colonialism now acquires a dimension of information technologies dependence, which, in fact, deprives these countries of realistic prospects of independent development, including possession of a competitive intellectual potential.

Multi-priority and other things Russia and UK agree on

 

Multi-polarity and regionalisation of global politics are the most important conditions of combating inequality in interstate relations. Polycentrism, by means of creating proper competitive environment, which was restricted to the “bipolar choice” in the Cold War, ensures a real space of freedom in choosing international partners in the interests of one’s own development. Now digital and media space is one of the key areas of scramble for influence. The notorious information control, as show recent disclosures by Edward Snowden, continues to remain the most important element of modern geopolitics. Another thing is that the total nature of such control, which, in fact, denies the right to privacy, is unacceptable to younger generations even in the countries of the West. Germany provides a clear example. A projection of George Orwell’s anti-utopia to the space of the historical West does not stand a chance in the perception of those, who at least by virtue of their age have not developed the habit to think in categories of “old” geopolitics, including “Faustian exchanges” between protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and the supposed national security interests.

Over the last years convergence has been taking place between Russia and the United Kingdom at the level of not only fundamental assessment of the current international situation, but also as regards choice of a diplomatic method, which meets the requirements of our times. The speech of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague in June in California, where he talked about a net-worked world, the importance of strong bilateral relationships and “partially overlapping alliances” in the interests of reaching common goals, is just another proof of that. All these ideas are consonant with the conclusions Russia made several years ago, which were reflected in the Foreign Policy Concept of 2008. I wish to point out that we did not need a global financial and economic crisis to do that – the Concept was approved by the President in July.

The Concept considers network diplomacy to be the chief diplomatic method for a polycentric international system. We are glad that the word “multi-polarity” does not cause allergy in our British partners. The point we are making is that it is no longer about cumbersome military and political alliances of the past confronting each other. As is known, the formation of such alliances has become the most important element of preparation for the disaster of the First World War. The main thing is that there are no grounds for such alliances in conditions of interdependency of all countries. Therefore, various alliances of interest are formed: they are open, their geometry is flexible and they comprise partners to secure rather specific common interests. These are, for instance, broad anti-terrorist coalitions, alliances for combating organised crime and drug trafficking and many others. They are not established against anybody, but rather to achieve something. They reflect the nature of modern challenges and threats which constitute trans-border phenomena. We can only counteract them effectively through the broadest possible international cooperation.

Of course, diplomacy and the diplomatic service should be up to the tasks of today. Here we have got much in common between Russia and the United Kingdom, especially now, with the Coalition Government of David Cameron in power. I was strongly impressed by the speech of William Hague in Foreign Office two years ago. At that time he talked about the need to strengthen the language training of diplomats, deepening their cross-cultural knowledge, the importance of history. In California this year he said that during his time in office “historians have been brought to the centre of Foreign Office work again”. This is really essential since it is impossible to draw lessons from recent experience having no idea of what history teaches us. It may be called a return to classic diplomacy. As far as I remember, Hillary Clinton mentioned that once when she was Secretary of State. I would like this to be understood as the need to overcome ideology-driven approaches and schemes inherited from the Cold Wartimes.

Information politics then and now

The idea of diplomacy as a “zero-sum game” was one of the stereotypes of the Cold War. This approach extended to the official information and the information area in general, which was viewed as one of the “fronts” of ideological confrontation. It seems that here things are being done in the business-as-usual way. And this could be understood, because in present conditions, when the previous ideological antagonisms have disappeared, selling policies, influencing partners through the control of information space are the key elements of policy-making. The things disclosed by Edward Snowden, speak in favour of the information security, like any other area of international relations, being subject to strict legal regulation. No coalitions of the likeminded can replace clear legally binding instruments of universal application. Their lack will only undermine trust in global politics, impede interstate cooperation in all other areas. Therefore, we need international management of the Internet. It turns out, by the way, that national borders preserve their importance here too, including as the ultimate means of protecting the right to privacy.

However, the issue is much broader. The state of ideological and policy confusion Sergey Karaganov is talking about, requires a more intense international discourse on the entire range of development issues. The information control is directly opposite to the purpose of such an exchange of ideas. It is simply impossible to solve the problems of our globalising world without creating equal conditions of participation in this debate for all. Otherwise, we will not be able to generate new ideas, while somebody’s ideas, which do not work anymore, and, probably, a disguised lack of any ideas, will be “more equal” than others. In the final count, it has everything to do with freedom of speech and the right to differ in international relations as the most important element of the political and intellectual environment, which we need to find the way out of the current deadlock and where majorities are not always right.

Searching for truth and international affairs

However, the situation is changing now, and these changes, as is evident, are related to the change of generations in the United States, Europe and the world at large. We see growing demand for an alternative opinion, rejection of conformism that suffocates the freedom of thought. The cause is related to the fact that in the West and, probably, in the entire world, the “end of history” mood prevailed for some time. In other words, there is only one truth, it is known and all of us need to march to a “bright future”. Of course, everything turned out to be quite different. And the global financial crisis, which struck in the autumn 2008, “woke up” everybody to this reality.

The truth is diverse; its search should never stop. I would like to refer to the conclusions made by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr.Rowan Williams in his study of Dostoevsky, namely about open-endedness of human narrative which conforms to the Christian view of freedom. This also refutes any “end of history” notion, be that communism or liberal capitalism, which sets limits to human ability to shape history. The aspiration for the truth is one of key characteristics of human nature and society. I believe that the growing popularity of “Russia Today” TV Channel in the United States and now in the United Kingdom, has a lot to do with this phenomenon. People are interested in pluralism of opinions as a must in making one’s own view on concrete problems. It is good that Russia and its media make part of such polyphony.

Human rights: the common denominator and beyond

To conclude, I would like to dwell a bit on the human rights, humanitarian dimension of the post-war settlement in Europe and the world. Set in a number of international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Covenants, it represents a common denominator of respective standards, which are acceptable for all. The attempts in the last decades to claim universal application of those fundamental rights and liberties ‘interpretation developed in a specific country or region, creates additional complications in the overall climate of international relations. In fact, this is an obstacle to coordinated collective efforts to ensure implementation of the very obligations, actually agreed by the international community.

The clarity in this issue is important, because the things put into contractual language in the first decades after the Second World War, reflect common understanding of traditional values of society, including the need for a balance between rights/liberties and responsibility while using them. Absolutization of the former and fully ignoring the latter inflict, among other things, damage to the inter-civilisational relations, which are based on the commonality of moral teachings of major world religions. Overcoming this contradiction, which, in fact, reflects the negative trend of self-destruction, will be one of the challenges to humanity in the 21st Century.

 

 




LATEST EVENTS

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.


16.10.2017 - Unpublished letter to the Editor of The Times (sent 12 October)

Sir, If British MPs are free to speak out, wherever they wish, on any issue, why try to block their freedom of speech (“Helping Putin”, 11 October)? If a TV channel wants (and is legally bound) to present different points of view, why slam those who express these views? If the mere act of giving an interview to foreign media amounts to high treason, why does The Times interview Russian politicians without fear? And finally - while MPs critical of Russia are welcome guests on the Russian TV channel RT, does your paper give the same treatment to those critical of the paper’s owner? Konstantin Shlykov Press Secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation


25.09.2017 - PRESENTATION by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk at the Christian Future of Europe Conference 22 September 2017, London

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies, dear Mr. Ambassador, conference organizers and participants, I cordially greet all of those gathered today at the Russian Embassy in London to partake in this conference dedicated to the question of the future of Christianity in Europe. This topic is not only not losing any of its relevance, but is resounding ever anew. Experts believe that today Christianity remains not only the most persecuted religious community on the planet, but is also encountering fresh challenges which touch upon the moral foundations of peoples' lives, their faith and their values. Recent decades have seen a transformation in the religious and ethnic landscape of Europe.



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