New Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov

Posted in Russia | 22-Mar-04 | Author: Dmitry Udalov

Sergey Lavrov was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs. What effects on Russian Foreign Policy it may produce? According to the Russian Constitution the President defines the Foreign Policy of Russia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs implements it.
Yet a bright and wise Minister can sufficiently influence the decisions of the Head of the State, as it was several times in Russian history. (Chancellor Gorchakov is the best example. He won a lot of diplomatic victories, and tsar Alexander II respected him greatly)
Sergey Lavrov is known to be one of the most intelligent diplomats. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the MFA of the USSR in 1972. He has an excellent command of the English, French and Sinhalese languages. He has made a successful career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from 1994 was holding a very important position of a Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. He is remembered for the firm statements before the War in Iraq started.

March 18, he gave the first big press conference since the time he was appointed. He started with the basic principles of Russian Foreign Policy: “I don't see any need to correct the strategic foreign policy lines of Russia, which are set forth in the Foreign Policy Concept, as concerns national interests. We want to live in the conditions of security for the country and the citizenry. We want this security to be ensured around the perimeter of our borders, both externally and within the country. In addition, our interests consist of seeing Russia further consolidated as a state, its economy growing competitive and, most important, the people feeling these results. We shall devote all of our energies to establishing favorable external conditions for the achievement of these tasks.”

Concerning the situation in Iraq he said that: “On Iraq our stand remains invariable. Developments go the way the Russian leadership predicted they would. A comprehensive and necessarily collective approach is needed to this region. I think that the Iraq crisis and the subsequent developments around Iraq have left no doubts in anyone that it is only together, and with the interrelationship of the region's problems taken into account, that all these problems can be solved.”

Sergey Lavrov commented on the EU enlargement. “Intensive contacts are being maintained between Russia and the European Union. Issues must be solved relating to the EU enlargement and to the extension of the European Union rules to the new countries joining it. This directly affects the trade and economic interests of Russia and it is precisely what we are openly talking about with our European partners.
A new date is scheduled for my meeting with the EU Troika. It will be held in the first ten-day period of April in Ireland. Russian economic structures in the government are professionally working in parallel with their European counterparts. We hope that, by the end of April, we will certainly manage not only to find, but also to give legal shape to agreements which will satisfy both parties.”

He expressed his view on the problem of terrorism. “I do not think that the development of events and the increase of terrorist acts in the most diverse parts of the world compel us to seek compromises with terrorists. I believe the fight against terrorism will be uncompromising and tough. For this purpose it is necessary to build up efforts. This is the sphere where under the aegis of the UN by a decision of the Security Council measures are now being taken to ensure the universal membership of all states in all the antiterrorist conventions, and the unification of the antiterrorist laws of each state so that they are compatible. The most important thing is to secure the comparability and compatibility of the administrative mechanisms of security and law enforcement agencies for the application of legal norms in practice. In its considerable part this work does not presuppose publicity. It is producing results. For us to be able to speak more confidently about the increase of reliability and the readiness of the world community for the suppression of the terrorist threat, of course, enormous work still remains to be done. Therefore the position of the Russian leadership is that there can be no compromises in the struggle against terrorism.

In the process we must not forget about other world problems, including social and economic ones. They are hunger, poverty, the chronic, dragging on for decades, conflicts, epidemics, the absence of development and education, of proper health care - all that breeds extremist tendencies. This breeding ground for extremism, among other things, provides volunteers for recruiters of terrorists, including suicide bombers. Without relaxing the uncompromising struggle against terrorism, the world community must pay attention to these questions too. By the way, the panel which Annan has established and of which Primakov is a member, has been formed on the initiative of Russia, with which President Putin came up from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly last September, calling for the elaboration and adoption of a resolution on the combating of new threats and challenges. This resolution we adopted with a large number of cosponsors in the person of leading countries of all the regions. It was adopted unanimously and envisages a comprehensive approach to the fight against all the new threats and challenges: terrorism, organized crime, WMD proliferation, drugs, poverty, underdevelopment and other social problems.”

Sergey Lavrov is also encouraged by the fact that Igor Ivanov has been appointed the Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, a body which is designed to coordinate the efforts of all the agencies involved in the safeguarding of some or other aspects of state security. “The elaboration of recommendations for the President on strategic issues at the interagency level is conducted with the participation of the Foreign Ministry, but the participation of other agencies is also extremely important. We hope that the activities of the Security Council will help to raise the effectiveness of all this work.”

So Russian Foreign Policy is not likely to have a tremendous change, yet it is going to be more active and effective.