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PRESS RELEASES

14.10.2014

Interview by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for a film timed to the 70th anniversary of the Moscow Institute of International Relations (University), 13 October 2014

Question: You said once that 80 percent of Foreign Ministry employees are selected from among MGIMO graduates. What makes them so much in demand in your ministry?

Sergey Lavrov: Each year is different, and the figure is not always 80 percent. More than half – about 60-70 percent – are MGIMO graduates. The fact that they are in demand is not linked with any favours, likes or dislikes. We choose the people who are best prepared to work in our ministry. Since MGIMO is a university of our Foreign Ministry, its academic programme is aimed at giving the best possible education for those who would like to pursue a diplomatic career in our ministry. But MGIMO is not a dog in the manger; it is ready to compete with other domestic educational institutions in preparing specialists for the Foreign Ministry and other government agencies. Our university conducts “winter schools” for students of other universities (in St. Petersburg, the Far East, Siberia and Central Russia). So those who specialise in international relations, but do not study at MGIMO, may attend special courses of lectures and seminars where the education is oriented toward work in the Foreign Ministry. As for the second part of your question about MGIMO preparing specialists not only for the Foreign Ministry. If we look at the numbers, MGIMO is not preparing specialists for the ministry to the same extent as before. Every year 1,900 students graduate from MGIMO, and many of them get jobs in other government agencies, go into business or choose a career in science. Our university has educated brilliant political scientists, journalists and a wide range of specialists. This is a substantial achievement of the past few years. The university has upgraded its academic programmes and many who want to rise to eminence in their profession (not only as diplomats) are striving to study there.

Question: You have the opportunity to compare the level of foreign students and MGIMO graduates. How competitive, in your opinion, are the latter?

Sergey Lavrov: Our graduates are in no in way inferior to their foreign colleagues as regards their readiness for diplomatic work. I can judge this from my own experience. I see how young members of our partners’ delegations work at the negotiating table and compare them with ours. Both are real professionals and our graduates are very competitive.

Question: MGIMO has many foreign students. What attracts young people from both the near- and far-abroad (the United States and Germany) to this university? There were many graduates from far-away countries at this year’s graduation party.

Sergey Lavrov: They are attracted by its competitive education. It isn’t just about getting a diploma from a prestigious university. Its graduates are indeed in high demand. They compete as equals with their foreign counterparts and sometimes even surpass them in this segment of a very tough modern market.

Question: MGIMO professors like to say that they inculcate some special mentality of statesmanship in their students. Is it possible to teach this, and what do you think they mean?

Sergey Lavrov: I think they primarily mean traditions. Naturally, MGIMO is subordinate to the Foreign Ministry but a formal approach only is not enough to bring up advocates of a strong state and patriots. The university has rich traditions. In 1944 the International Faculty of Moscow State University was transformed into an institute and since then MGIMO students have fought on the front lines, developed virgin lands and restored ruined economies. These traditions are deeply ingrained in the university. MGIMO graduates are not some aristocratic caste, but the diplomats of their own people.

Since its early years students from MGIMO (which was called the Institute of International Relations at that time) knew about the life of their homeland. We have continued these traditions, and they are still alive today. Construction teams where MGIMO Rector Anatoly Torkunov and I worked, among other people who became famous later, have created a brilliant school of life and an opportunity to learn what this country is all about. When we discuss prospects of cooperation with foreign partners in the Far East or Siberia we clearly remember what these places are like and what opportunities they offer.

So to respond to your question, I will say that MGIMO is primarily about traditions and an academic programme that fully meets the requirement to provide people with knowledge about our country, its history and the essence of various historical events. All of this is very important.

I’d like to emphasise that MGIMO has brilliant professors and teachers that are not being left behind by life. While preserving traditions, they are the first to see the new trends in international relations and to incorporate them into academic programmes. This is a very important aspect of any university. We appreciate this work, under the leadership of Academician Torkunov.

Question: You’ve mentioned that the university is changing fast and has gone through several transformations: it was a departmental university in the USSR and now it educates Russian diplomats. What allows MGIMO to change so rapidly and keep its academic programmes topical, modern and demanded?

Sergey Lavrov: I think you should better ask the rector about this. I see the result but you have to be an insider to understand how to achieve it.

Question: What will this university be like in the future? Who will its graduates be in a decade or so?

Sergey Lavrov: It’s hard to predict. President Vladimir Putin set the task for five domestic universities to get into the top hundred in the foreseeable future. I hope MGIMO will be one of the five. At any rate, there is every reason to hope for this.

I hope that in ten years MGIMO graduates will meet the challenges facing diplomacy and the Russian state, which will need to be addressed by journalists and entrepreneurs. Everything is subject to change and life will be different in a decade. It's possible to anticipate its parameters, but it's very difficult to know what will take place in different fields of human knowledge, the economy and finances. But I hope that MGIMO will not lag behind life. I repeat, all new trends that fall into its domain are immediately noticed by and incorporated into academic programmes.

We wish teachers, professors, top managers of the university, its students and graduates, MGIMO Alumni Association members and our veterans, good health, long life and success in the spheres they chose, owing to their excellent education at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations!

 




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