Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview for Leaders of Russia, a Channel One documentary February 18, 2018

Sunday, 18 February 2018 12:47

Question: You have probably taken note of posters in this building, which say “Russia is a land of opportunity.” During your workshop, you appealed to historical experience. Can you provide any historical examples to prove that Russia is indeed a land of opportunity? In my amateurish opinion, when I look at Nina Khrushcheva and Jacqueline Kennedy I understand who comes from which country and that our country is indeed a land of opportunity. What examples can you offer?

Sergey Lavrov: Essentially, anyone who has achieved something in life can provide examples that are based on his or her own experience and on the experience of their friends. It is true that not everyone succeeds or realises his or her dream. But those who keep moving steadfastly towards their goals will reach the desired result in an overwhelming majority of cases, if not always.

I believe that replenishing the leaders’ pool can be done best in conditions of social mobility. A short but very personal meeting I have had with young leaders today has shown that there are young people who love their professions and who believe that they can do more for their country. This is how I would formulate their desire to take part in this project and competition. I hope very much that the results of this project will be consistent with their expectations, that many of these young people will be noticed and offered a new job.

Question: What catches your eye when you read an applicant’s CV and specialist fields to offer him/her a job at the Foreign Ministry?

Sergey Lavrov: I spoke about this at the forum. The most important factors are commitment, readiness to address the most complicated matters even when this encroaches on your personal time, as well as extensive knowledge in many fields, because international relations sometimes encounter problems that go far beyond the scope of classical diplomacy. Plus you must be ready for very serious encroachments on your personal time. You must be also ready to work long hours and for long foreign missions, including in countries with an adverse climate and military-political situations. But the most important thing for making a successful career in diplomacy, just as in any other profession but especially in diplomacy, is to feel involvement in the life of your country and to feel that you are an integral part of your homeland. Call it patriotism, responsibility for your country or whatever, but this quality is indispensable for upholding the interests of the country whose interests you represent in a dialogue with other countries.

Question: Do you know about such social mobility projects in other countries? If so, can you provide an example? What is unique when it comes to our project?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t think you will find anything like the project in Sochi. All countries have their rules and methods of selecting personnel. You can see regular changes in the majority of Western countries that have two-party political systems, primarily as in the United States, or three- or four-party systems like in Germany. When Democrats come to power, Republicans retreat into business or political science, which is financed by business and the state. Following the change of power, the losing party finds jobs in business or at think tanks. This is how they select those who are subsequently offered leading positions. As to what we have done today at the initiative of President Putin, no, I haven’t seen anything of the kind in other countries. I don’t think you should copy other people’s experience or force your methods of looking for young leaders onto others. Every country knows better what its society feels, what it wants and what can be done to offer the opportunity of social mobility to those who want to prove their worth.

Question: Why is the Foreign Ministry interested in the Leaders of Russia national management competition?

Sergey Lavrov: We hope to find those who would like to take up a diplomatic career and who would satisfy the criteria I mentioned above. We have a special selection process. In addition to objective criteria, such as good university graduation marks, a master’s degree and at least two foreign languages, the applicants attend special interviews where we can understand their creative features and abilities and test their reaction and intuition, because intuition is extremely important in diplomacy. Intuition is sometimes very helpful. For example, it can help you end the talks at the right moment and on good terms that suit you. I hope that today’s event, in particular, my meeting with the three winners of the foreign relations segment of the competition, will be fruitful.

Question: Can other young leaders ask you for advice or share their proposals with you?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, absolutely. We are always open to this. By the way, it is not the first time when civil society representatives with professional knowledge in many spheres offer their ideas regarding our foreign policy or solutions to specific questions. We maintain dialogue with NGOs round the year and I hold a meeting with NGO representatives once a year. During the year, all our departments responsible for individual regions, as well as those that are focused on the UN and European organisations, meet with representatives from the NGOs in their field of operations and organise seminars with them. These disputes often produce interesting ideas. There is the Scientific Council under the Foreign Minister, where seasoned and young diplomats organise discussions that often produce interesting results. Of course, there is also the Foreign Ministry’s Business Council, where representatives of our leading companies share their views on global developments. The majority of our leading companies are not only working to prevent discrimination against Russian companies on global markets. They have also accumulated very interesting observations that are directly connected to foreign policy and the geopolitical aspirations of the countries where they do business. These views are a big help to us.

Question: You have a very tight schedule. Do you have any time for dreaming? If so, what is your dream?

Sergey Lavrov: As they say, there’s no harm in dreaming, but this is depending on your interpretation of the dream. When I am on a plane flying somewhere, I read documents for the upcoming talks. When I go to sleep, I sometimes can’t stop my mind thinking, just as anybody else. But these thoughts increasingly more often take the form of making plans for tomorrow, if I have serious talks ahead, or pondering solutions to a long-term problem. I do this and go to sleep. It helps.

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