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324 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     316 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities



Interview by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with MGIMO Journal on the 70th anniversary of Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), Moscow, 13 October 2014

Question: Mr Lavrov, we’d like to congratulate you on this professional achievement.

Sergey Lavrov: Thank you. For my part, I’d like to use this occasion to congratulate the professors, the faculty and other university staff, its students, post-graduates and alumni on the 70th anniversary of our alma mater.

Question: You’ve been monitoring the university’s progress not only as head of its Board of Trustees, but also as one of its most active alumni who has been taking part in many events held here. What is your opinion of the university’s last decade?

Sergey Lavrov: The last decade was very positive and productive in terms of our cooperation with MGIMO. I was chosen as head of its Board of Trustees, and its satisfying that many university graduates, who have risen high in the field of diplomacy, politics, business, journalism and other social domains, are actively contributing to the board’s work and otherwise helping the university.

Over these years, we have made progress in expanding the MGIMO training facilities, and Russian companies have started to cooperate with the university, including by creating their chairs here. Progress has been made on the issue of building a new dormitory building. This is very important for prospective students who are dreaming of enrolling at MGIMO, to feel comfortable at this prestigious school.

And lastly, the unification of MGIMO alumni associations in many countries has been gathering momentum. It’s a potent tool of soft power that is not aggressive but very humane, which helps us to promote the MGIMO traditions of friendship, solidarity and cooperative interaction. I’d like to mention in this context a new format of interaction, the World Forum of MGIMO Alumni. The first forum was held in Baku in 2013, and the second is to be held [in Moscow] on 13 October this year, the day before the celebration of the university’s 70th anniversary.

These are only a few of the visible signs of our growth, which have been made possible by hard work, but they reflect the growing rating of the university in Russia and outside it. MGIMO is one of the best centres for political studies and also a powerful attraction for not only Russian and CIS citizens, but also for young people from other countries, including Western Europe, the United States and Asia. I see this as a seal of quality.

Question: Does MGIMO remain the key provider of personnel for the Foreign Ministry, despite competition from other universities?

Sergey Lavrov: MGIMO by right holds the key place in the system of training diplomatic personnel in this country. MGIMO graduates make up about 80 percent of the young professionals who started working at the Foreign Ministry last year. MGIMO graduates constitute over two-thirds of the ministry staff and form the core of the Russian diplomatic service. They shoulder the bulk of responsibility for the increasingly complex and multifaceted tasks concerned with the effective implementation of the country’s foreign policy, the creation of favourable external conditions for Russia’s comprehensive development, transition of the national economy to innovative development and better living standards for the people.

A MGIMO degree is not only evidence of a good professional education that meets the highest standards, but also a guarantee of interesting offers on a highly competitive labour market. Practice has shown that MGIMO graduates are absolutely not inferior to their colleagues who received education abroad. It’s not surprising that MGIMO holds a high place in international educational ratings, in particular, it is one of Russia’s top five universities according to QS World University Rankings.

The MGIMO faculty consists of talented lecturers and scientists, who are making a considerable intellectual contribution to the work of the ministry. The results of their studies are used for preparing foreign policy documents on a wide range of issues and for reinforcing the analytical aspects of Russian diplomacy. The consolidation of the university’s research potential and the effective integration of science and education are among the main achievements of the past decade.

The work of professional communities of experts on international relations and political studies at MGIMO has acquired a new quality. I’m referring above all to the Russian International Studies Association (RISA), which is headed by Anatoly Torkunov, Rector of MGIMO University and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Russian Political Science Association (RPSA).

It is important that the university is not standing still but is moving on and continues to look for new ways to improve the tuition process and analytical and research work. I see this as a guarantee of new achievements.

Question: Speaking about yet another anniversary in the glorious history of MGIMO University, we should mention that it was headed by Nikolai Levedev in the important decade of 1974-1985. He raised the education of international experts to a new level. The anniversary issue will carry a large article about Lebedev together with this interview. We know that he was your dean for the five years that you studied in MGIMO at the international relations faculty. What can you recall in this context? Please share with us your memories of these years.

Sergey Lavrov: The history of the faculty of international relations, the 70th anniversary of which we marked last year, is actually the history of MGIMO, as such. Many outstanding scientists and teachers worked at this faculty.

Mr Lebedev, the first graduate of MGIMO who became its rector, occupies a special place in the history of the faculty and the university as a whole. He took part in the Great Patriotic War and the guerilla warfare in the Brest Region. A man of enormous life experience, he is a well-known scholar in the field of international relations, domestic Balkan studies and Romanian history and politics. He made a tangible contribution to MGIMO’s development.

As a dean, Mr Lebedev was a strict but just teacher and mentor prepared to meet the needs of his students and support their initiatives and proposals. He always knew who of his students was the most promising and this was reflected in his activities as MGIMO’s rector for 11 years.

Mr Lebedev leads an active lifestyle today. He is interested in foreign policy and international relations and enjoys the well-deserved respect of his friends, colleagues and broad circles of scholars. Using this opportunity I’d like to wish him health, prosperity and all the best!

Question: Over the past decade, MGIMO was obviously consolidating its potential. You’ve already mentioned the world forum of MGIMO graduates in Baku. What will be the hallmark of the Moscow forum?

Sergey Lavrov: First, the Baku forum was an important step in uniting MGIMO graduates. It was a major event not only for the university but also for enhancing humanitarian ties between people, which is an inalienable prerequisite for building trust and mutual understanding among nations. In his message of greetings to the forum, President Vladimir Putin emphasised that such initiatives enrich the relations between our countries with human warmth and the joy of personal communication. The forum gathered about 600 people from 32 countries, including statesmen and foreign ministers from many countries, for instance, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Slovakia, as well as employees of international organisations, for example, UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for Afghanistan Jan Kubis, and representatives of big business. To my sincere regret, my busy work schedule did not allow me to attend this meeting.

Question: Getting back to your 10-year stint as foreign minister, I know from my ministerial media pool experience how hard you work, and I never cease to be surprised at how busy and efficient you are. Nevertheless, the previous 10 years had been fairly quiet for you as minister, which allowed you to do a lot of good for our country in maintaining peace and stability and promoting Russian businesses abroad. However, the turbulence that tore through the world early this year, a cold spell in our relations with our recent partners and the civil war in Ukraine have dramatically changed the alignment of forces worldwide and have brought the world to the brink of disaster. That was an unprecedented turn of events for the Russian diplomatic service. Are we at the point where the real work begins?

Sergey Lavrov: The Foreign Ministry’s work has always been extremely intense, and diplomats are constantly faced with numerous challenges and tests. Many centuries of the national diplomatic service clearly show that the Russian Foreign Ministry has always been up to the task and has been able to find effective answers and solutions, even in the most difficult circumstances. There are many examples of this.

The Ukraine crisis has seriously shaken up the international situation, and its impact will be felt for a long time. It is difficult to say what kind of turn the events will take, but one thing we can be sure of is that the future will be fraught with many surprises.

In a nutshell, the Ukraine crisis is not a manifestation of any new trends in global politics. Rather, it caps off the course that our Western partners have pursued with regard to Russia for many years. Western Europe has for centuries distanced itself from Russia, even though Russia has been an integral part of European culture and politics for at least the past three centuries. As a matter of fact, stability and peace prevailed in Europe whenever Russia was actively involved in Europe’s affairs. Unfortunately, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe has pursued a policy of containment with regard to our country, albeit in a milder form, where they see us as a rival rather than partner.

Over the past 25 years, our Euro-Atlantic partners and Russia have discussed ways to establish strategic relationships, set up joint agencies designed to facilitate such relationships, and adopted political declarations with an eye towards building a common space of peace, security and stability. However, at the same time our Western partners have been promoting their own agenda, largely ignoring the interests of Russia and expanding NATO. In a word, they’ve been trying to move the geopolitical space under their control closer to the Russian border.

One might get the impression that Russia has come under attack as a country that most actively expresses its independent point of view and believes that independent policy is its natural right. Of course, this line is incompatible with the ambitions of those who believe in their own exceptionality.

Despite unfriendly actions of our Western partners, we remain opposed to sliding into primitive outright confrontation between Russia and the West. Russia is willing to continue to make a constructive contribution to resolving cross-border problems on a mutually respectful and equitable basis.

Global challenges have not disappeared just because of the start of the Ukraine crisis. Suffice it to mention the real war waged by extremists in Syria and Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the situation in Afghanistan. Let’s not forget about the crises in Africa, where we’ve already provided our help to the European Union in Chad and CAR and in combating piracy.

Such challenges as terrorism, drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal migration, climate change and many others can be countered only through collective efforts. Refusing to cooperate is not an option in Russia-West relations for either side. However, it’s unlikely that the former model of relations that was disingenuous towards Russia and was based on double standards will remain unchanged. You can’t constantly adjust international law to comply with someone's unilateral plans or undermine the authority of the UN Security Council through a biased interpretation of its resolutions. Matters should be handled in an honest manner and with respect for international law, primarily the UN Charter, with all its norms and principles.

Question: You keep in touch with MGIMO alumni who hold high offices internationally. They include a president, a prime minister and several ministers of foreign affairs. Do you think that being alumni of the same alma mater can work as a stabilising factor amid widespread blatantly irrational approaches?

Sergey Lavrov: We are rightfully proud of the fact that MGIMO has given the world a constellation of statesmen, politicians, diplomats, academics, journalists, and businessmen, who have successfully worked in Russia and many other countries. MGIMO graduates include Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev, Moldovan prime minister Yury Lyanke, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and foreign ministers of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Slovakia.

Of course, state policy is determined not by an individual, but by the objective state interests. All of the above statesmen and many other graduates consistently and persistently promote the national interests of their respective countries. That’s the way it is and should be.

However, the factor of MGIMO camaraderie cannot be underestimated either. MGIMO taught us the foundations of professionalism, lifelong learning skills and the ability to work effectively in a rapidly changing environment. MGIMO also helped us develop such qualities sought-after in international affairs as patriotism and tolerance towards other countries and cultures, understanding the importance of compromise, the ability to openly express our positions and maintain warm and friendly relations with foreign colleagues.

It is comforting to know that the spirit of MGIMO is still alive. Our graduates usually discuss professional topics in a friendly and truly business-like atmosphere. This helps find effective solutions to a variety of occasionally very complex issues.

We are interested in promoting good relations between our nations. MGIMO graduates from foreign countries in Baku spearheaded the idea of holding regular alumni reunions. I believe that this proposal should be supported and, if implemented, it will help strengthen our contacts.

I’d be remiss not to comment on your words about the alleged “widespread blatantly irrational approaches.” I don’t think there are any grounds for having such a pessimistic outlook. The international situation is complicated, but not hopeless. Furthermore, I’m convinced that deterioration of the situation should stimulate more active and creative diplomacy.

Question: Not long ago, you could hear a MGIMO student (or any other young individual, for that matter) say, “Our generation is out of luck. The time of opportunity was in the 1990s and is now long gone.” Now, I say to our students, “You are lucky. A very interesting period in our country's history is about to begin. It’s going to be a time of great trials, but also great opportunities. Most importantly, you must not squander your opportunity.” What’s your message to MGIMO students and recent graduates?

Sergey Lavrov: Every generation has its challenges, opportunities and chances. I believe that you can always live an exciting, eventful and active life. It’s all about your attitude.

In diplomacy or other areas where MGIMO graduates may work, there’s the demand for highly skilled professionals who are capable of thinking outside the box, in a creative manner, and who can be accountable for the grounded decisions that they make in a dynamic global environment.

It is imperative to accumulate knowledge, expand your perspective and be fluent in foreign languages. This combination will allow you to come out on top of any situation. I wish all the students and graduates success in their studies, good health and all the best. And, of course, I hope that they will honourably carry on the unique spirit of MGIMO camaraderie throughout their lives.



06.08.2015 - Russian Embassy comments on Foreign Office spokeswoman’s misleading statement

The Foreign Office made two misleading statements to the Daily Telegraph. It says that "visas for diplomats posted to the Russian Embassy in London are issued in line with arrangements agreed with Russia". The fact is that the bilateral memorandum in force between the two countries on visa issues of 1989 provides for visas for staff members of diplomatic missions to be issued within thirty days. It is not observed by the British side, the average waiting time reaching 5 and a half months.

06.08.2015 - Soviet documents on the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.

On the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima nuclear bombing the Russian Historical Society has published a report by Soviet Embassy on the consequences of the A-bomb.

05.08.2015 - Comment by press-secretary of the Embassy on a Russian citizen detention in a London airport

The Embassy has received information from a Russian citizen who, having read our travel advice of 3 August, 2015, has told us about her recent experience in a London airport, previously unknown to the Embassy. The Russian national was detained by the immigration authorities before crossing the border controls. The Home Office Border Force took interest in additional information regarding the purpose of visit of the Russian citizen, knowledge of Arabic and whether or not she visited Arab countries.

13.07.2015 - On the closure of “Rossiya Segodnya” bank account

Concerned over the closure of the bank account of “Rossiya Segodnya” news agency office in London at “Barclays” bank.

29.06.2015 - Book of condolences opened at the Embassy

Following the passing away of former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov a formal book of condolences has been opened at the Embassy. The book of condolences will be open on the 29th June 2015 from 14:00 to 17:00 and on the 30th June from 09:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00 at the Embassy of the Russian Federation at 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, W8 4QP.

29.06.2015 - Funeral ceremony for Yevgeny Primakov

Vladimir Putin visited the Hall of Columns at the House of Unions, where a funeral ceremony is taking place for Yevgeny Primakov.

29.06.2015 - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s welcome address to the participants and guests of the 13th Conference of Russian and German Sister Cities

I welcome the participants and guests of the 13th Conference of Russian and German Sister Cities, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

29.06.2015 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the results of the NATO defence ministers’ meeting

The results of the June 24-25 meeting of the NATO defence ministers in Brussels have, unfortunately, confirmed that the alliance still seeks to achieve military-political domination in Europe, as indicated by the decisions of the September 2014 NATO Wales summit.

29.06.2015 - Comment by the Information and Press Department on the terrorist act in Tunisia

The media reports that, on June 26, armed terrorists opened fire at tourists on the beach of the Riu Imperial Marhaba and Soviva hotels at the Port El Kantaoui tourist resort near the city of Sousse.

29.06.2015 - Press release on the death of Yevgeny Primakov (June 26, 2015)

The Foreign Ministry’s leadership and personnel have learned with great sorrow about the death of an outstanding political, government and public figure of our time, former Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who served in 1996-1998.

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