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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

13.06.2017

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko’s speech at Russia’s National Day Reception (13 June 2017, London)

Your Royal Highness,

Excellencies,

Dear friends,

It is a privilege to welcome you all at my Residence on the occasion of Russia’s National Day. Thanks God for fine weather. Hope you will enjoy the time at our place.

Ever since my country embarked upon the path of radical change 30 years ago, we have had a difficult, even painful journey. It was the price of profound transformation of a society, aspiring for freedom and justice. We abandoned any ideology as alien to common sense and real needs of real people. We have been seeing those tough decisions bearing fruit.

But that is a journey that never ends for there is no such a thing as an end of history. Russia is again one of the leading nations of the world, doing its bit in countering global threats and challenges, among them climate change and the scourge of international terrorism.

One of the lessons we learnt early on is the fact that post-Cold War the world changed for all. Problems of development have come on top of national and international agendas. The Western nations make no exclusion from this global trend. The same issues of adapting socio-economic and political models to the imperatives of our time have caught up with the West. There is a lot of talk of deglobalisation or the need to do something about globalisation’s overreach, which left many behind.

It seems that whatever could be done collectively, through broad international cooperation, economic growth has got to be restored within each nation, first of all, by way of national effort. Some external factors, like sanctions and drastic fall in the price of oil, helped drive that message home for us. Thanks to that Russia is now in a better position to withstand bad international weather, to ensure stability at home and security on our borders and in wider regions adjoining Russia east and west, north and south.

The scale and outcomes of the recent Saint-Petersburg International Economic Forum provide ample proof that those efforts and policies are paying off in terms of our own prosperity and attractiveness for international business partners.

Whatever the state of our bilateral relationship with Britain, we have always been of the view that there is much more to it than political dialogue and the whole range of intergovernmental cooperation.

Although we are always willing to resume political contacts whenever our British partners are ready for that. And let me be frank with you. We expect that with each political change here, in Britain. We’ll never give up hope and will have enough strategic patience. All the more so, that the international issues, on which we are at odds, are being managed multilaterally, either with direct participation of Britain or with participation of her close allies.

In the meantime we focus on people-to-people exchanges, especially in the cultural area, and, of course, on trade and economic ties between British and Russian business. Those have always been, and are especially now, the two pillars of our bilateral relations beyond mere diplomatic ones. For example, this year is our bilateral Year of Science and Education. We are also doing our best in the area of public diplomacy, including in digital media.

Thus, we have been able to keep up our relationship in a way that steadily contributes to better understanding and building up of mutual confidence between our two nations.

Today, as has become a tradition, it gives me a special pleasure to present letters of recognition to a number of persons who have made an outstanding contribution to cultural cooperation between Russia and Britain in the past months. 

May I invite Dr Rosalind Blakesley – a scholar of Russian painting, curator of last year's very successful exhibition "Russia and the Arts" at the National Portrait Gallery. Her book "The Russian Canvas" is a real discovery of Russian XVIII and XIX century painting and winner of this year's Pushkin Prize. 

The second is Dr Natalia Murray, a distinguished art scholar, her achivements include curating the recent "Revolution" exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Let me continue with Ms Susan Reed, who also curated an extraordinary exhibition, this time the ongoing event "Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths" at the British Library. Ms Reed together with Ekaterina Rogachevskaya, who is not here today and to whom the letter of recognition will be presented separately, has succeeded in delivering an insightful exhibition which gives an excellent illustration to the turbulent period in our history 100 years ago.

Next is Ms Eszter Steierhoffer yet another curator, responsible for the "Imagine Moscow" exhibition at the newly reopened Design Museum, exploring early Soviet ideas in architecture.

I would also like to present letters of recognition to two very active members of the Russian community in Northern Ireland, Ms Oksana Shelest and Ms Elena Geddis, of the First Russian School in Belfast. In just 4 years they have organized many events in Belfast and other towns of Northern Ireland, built excellent relations with the local government and communities. 

Thank you very much and enjoy the day.




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