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3 Sep, 2007 07:12

Russia to play balancing role in world affairs: Sergey Lavrov

In an annual address to the students and faculty of Moscow's State University of International Relations to mark the start of the academic year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that Russia will play a balancing role in world affairs.

Sergey Lavrov has also stressed Russia will never barter over its national security.

Unlike last year, when the Foreign Minister primarily spoke in broad terms, this time the vector of his message was focused on Russia’s relations with the West, the U.S. in particular.

Sergey Lavrov called for a new approach to Russia-U.S. relations in order to consolidate the positions of all world powers on international stability and security.

We feel our responsibility along with other countries to learn lessons from the history, including modern contemporary history, and to analyse our own and other people’s mistakes,

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister

There are also elements of emancipation in Russian-American relations. First of all, it means getting rid of the hostility and the ideology that fed it. We have inherited a form of relationship between the U.S and Russia for common responsibility and maintaining strategic stability in the world. Though it is evident now that this inheritance from the past is not sufficient to build an up-to-date, stable and forward-looking relationship.

Globalisation suggests the necessity of positive interdependency, mainly in the economic sphere. On the other hand, global freedom determines the collective leadership of the most advanced countries of the world. From historical experience we know that freedom in international relations does not mean the liberty of one state from another. It really means freedom to negotiate and come to an agreement on the basis of mutual advantage.

By the way, it is already being done occasionally in certain cases between the five permanent members of the Security Council of the UN, between G8 members and in other diplomatic formats. At the same time it is obvious that globalisation also brings global problems which can only be resolved by the joint efforts of leading world powers. The number of world powers which might influence these problems is also growing. Therefore new forms of collective leadership guided by mutual tracking of national interests are most likely. World powers should be aware of their responsibility for the future of mankind. This tendency has already affected decisions made in the framework of the G8 and its partners. As you may know, the dialogue with traditional partners of the G8 – like China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – is being institutionalised,” said Mr Lavrov.

And of course it couldn’t go without touching the recent deterioration of relationships between Russia and the UK.

“There is nothing tragic in our relationship with the UK. Of course, we feel sorry that, with the lack of evidence in Lugovoy’s case, London has made a choice in favour of a loud and scandalous show,” he said.

“I don’t think that in taking the decision to provide political asylum to some political figures a few years ago the British side was seriously thinking of the possibility of changing Russia’s internal policy, but in the end London became -voluntarily or otherwise – a participant of intrigues against Russia. I would like to repeat that we would like to see our relationship with the UK as one of a true partnership,” the Foreign Minister added.

The Foreign Minister also spoke about the Anti-Missile Defence problems and the Kosovo problem. “We have to respond and we must uphold our standpoint to the end. One of the questions in this respect is the U.S. plan to deploy anti-missile defence system elements in Eastern Europe and the settlement of the Kosovo problem. Russia is not wrangling and our international partners should understand it. Along with principles, some very important, vital interests of practical policy are touched upon there. Russia is and will always be against everything that strengthens unilateral or one-sided approach to international affairs in the new conditions and undermines the principle of equal security,” he noted.

His speech might seem too general and too strategic, but for his audience it had a deeper meaning. For students of Moscow’s State University of International Relations – traditionally the country’s main source of diplomatic manpower – the address has become something they wouldn’t miss.

Maxim Matvienko, a first year student, explained why Lavrov’s speech was so important for him: “Many famous diplomats and politicians are graduates of the Moscow’s State University of International Relations. We have been students for only one day, but I can speak for all freshmen and say that we’re all full of determination to do everything to become highly skilled diplomats. We know that we have the support of the foreign ministry.”

Most of the students of this university will be forming the landscape of Russia’s foreign policy after graduation. So apart from listening to the key aspects of Russia’s international views at the moment, some words of encouragement from the man himself could be an inspiration to those who’ve started their studies.

RT political commentator Peter Lavelle expressed his opinion on some issues touched upon in Mr Lavrov's speech.