Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address at the conference of the Russian Afro-Asian Solidarity and Cooperation Committee, Moscow, June 15, 2017

Monday, 19 June 2017 11:29

Mr Umakhanov,

Friends,

First of all, forgive me for managing to arrive only now and for a very short time with repeated changes to my schedule. I am glad to greet you all. I know that Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov read my greeting, and before that you heard a special address from President Vladimir Putin.

I would like to say from the bottom of my heart that we are very pleased to see you here – representatives of Russian experts on political sciences and our foreign friends and guests, especially the leaders of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation, with which we have long relations, going deep back in history. I am very happy that we carry on these traditions today in a situation where solidarity is more necessary than ever.

Russia has traditionally supported the Asian and African peoples’ desire to settle their fates independently. This position became evident in the era of anti-colonialist struggle and is evident now. We know that many of our Western partners are out to turn these regions into a theatre of geopolitical confrontation, advance one-sided policies, and impose approaches to domestic problems from outside with their own patterns. We know how hard it is to resist, considering financial, economic and other circumstances. We see, however, that the desire to handle one’s fate independently is getting stronger, and we support that.

Russia has adhered to this approach for many years. President Vladimir Putin spoke about it in detail today during his Direct Line Q&A session. In our moves at the United Nations, we always proceed from the belief that all problems in Africa and Asia should be addressed through approaches developed by the nations of those continents themselves. That is what we are doing at the UN Security Council, whose agenda is overburdened with African issues. Some of our Western colleagues attempt to propose their own ways of settling these problems based mainly on their own interests, rather than what’s best for the African nations. We always stress that the UN Security Council should first lend an attentive ear to the opinions of the African Union and the African sub-regional organisations and support their approaches because Africans and Asians know better than anyone what to do about their own problems and how to settle crises in particular countries in their regions. In the United Nations and its Security Council, the international community should promote the conflict settlement efforts of the region’s nations, and support them politically, morally, financially and materially with training and equipment for peacekeeping units, and goodwill services.

I would also like to note that during the continuing discussions on UN Security Council reform, in the interests of ensuring a balanced international system, we insist, as an absolute priority, on the necessity to begin by correcting the imbalance in Security Council representation as regards the developing countries. We insist that the greatest emphasis should be on increasing Asia, Africa and Latin America’s representation. That will be our position before the matter is settled to the satisfaction of our partners in the developing world.

I would also like to say that we have very close contact with the African Union and the many sub-regional organisations in what is often referred to as the Black Continent. Our contacts are developing with the numerous integrational, political and economic groups taking shape in the Asian-Pacific Region. We will strengthen and extend these ties, proceeding in this from the stances of Russia’s civil society, with its active interest in foreign politics. In this context, the Russian Afro-Asian Solidarity and Cooperation Committee has always been a reliable partner. Gathered in this audience are, perhaps, our country’s best minds with thorough knowledge of many Asian and African issues – people who have contributed in many ways to the formation of our foreign policy, being employed at the Foreign Ministry and other government agencies, and after retirement, or during their career in the political sciences and other academic research.

I am convinced that the Foreign Ministry will find very essential the initiatives that will certainly be advanced in your discussions and that, I expect, will be generalised after this meeting.

We will make relevant proposals to the Russian President and Government for our relations with Asian and African countries to become more practical and find new content in the economy and investments, in which we have mutual interest, as well as in foreign politics and the coordination of our efforts in the United Nations. We are happy that all of our nations – Russia, the Asian and African nations, and the majority of Latin American nations – are proponents of multi-polarity.

All of our countries voted for a crucial resolution approved by the UN General Assembly in December 2016 and aimed to promote the formation of a more just and democratic world order. It reflects all basic principles shared by our nations – particularly the unacceptability of interference in sovereign countries’ domestic affairs, the necessity to respect every nation’s right to choose its own fate, the unacceptability of attempts to change the form of government through coups d’etat and by imposing another country’s national laws and other methods from without. I should say that this is a principal challenge that we all should address.

We should realise at the same time that ahead of us lays a very long road to these goals and principles as underlying further development of international relations. We will face firm resistance. The nations that have ruled international affairs for several centuries are loath to part with that role, though, objectively, they cannot go on the way they have in the previous eras. We and, as far as I know, your countries are not striving to uphold our interests through confrontation. Our cause is certainly just. That is clear to all. We want consensus to be formed in international relations. That is possible only with mutual respect, dialogue and a search for a balance of interests.

I think we will further strengthen our cooperation in this constructive agenda. I would like again to greet all of you and wish you a productive time here. We will wait impatiently for your recommendations on the further development of our friendly and cooperative relations, the way you see them.

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