Let me start by saying that it is my pleasure to welcome you. I would like to use this opportunity to speak on several points. The first one is “strengthening the role of multilateralism”, where I will touch upon current state of the system of international relations. The second topic I would like to focus on is a new Concept of Foreign Policy of Russia, which reflects our view on how to overcome numerous global challenges together with our friends and partners. I will also briefly outline the priorities of Russia’s Presidency in the UNSC. After that I would welcome your interventions, comments and questions.
1. As President Vladimir Putin said, the world has entered the most dangerous and unpredictable decade since the end of the Second World War. But at the same time he called this decade the most important period. I quote: “The change of eras is a painful albeit natural and inevitable process. A future world arrangement is taking shape before our eyes”. Indeed, we are living in a time that will lay the foundation of a new system of international relations and determine its future.
The general trend – and the truth – is that the structure of the world is consistently changing towards multipolarity. What we are witnessing today is that it is no longer possible for one single state or a block of states to dominate the world. The new evolving system is emerging. This system implies a balance of power and interests between states, geopolitical macro regions and relevant regional organisations, even civilizational platforms. Such a balance has not been achieved yet. However we see that the global power is shifting. Non-Western actors are getting more and more influence, they are capable of choosing their own way and can have a potential to become independent centres of the evolving multipolarity.
The economic and scientific capacity of non-Western actors is growing, they tend to use their huge resources in an independent way. And of course they are seeking to maintain their sovereignty and cultural identity, to be free to define their future on the basis of their own interests. The answer to this request is multipolarity.
The multipolar world is based on respect for international law and a sovereign choice of one’s own path of development. Obviously the multipolar world built on such principles does not go in line with what is being promoted by the collective West as “rules-based world order”. Europe and the US fear possible losses they might suffer geopolitically and economically if the West-oriented model of globalization collapses. So it is not strange that the West is fighting hard to keep all the so-called privileges it has gained in the past – either since the end of 1980-s or, generally speaking, since the early 16th century. That is why they are increasing pressure on Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Venezuela.
The unprecedented unilateral restrictions against Russia eventually put to an end the period of our cooperation and coexistence with the West. Those who we considered our partners made their own choice and launched a confrontation. It is obvious that this is a long-term choice, which makes us speak about a full-scale hybrid war against our country.
The situation in and around Ukraine is only one element of a large-scale collision created by a small group of Western states willing to turn back the objective process of the rise of a multipolar architecture. Initially the EU was sure it could succeed in isolating Russia internationally. Those attempts have failed. There are many patterns in the world apart from the US and the EU, and Russia is willing to contribute to creating a truly multipolar system based on mutual respect.
2. On March 31 a new Concept of Foreign Policy of Russia was adopted. It outlines the vision of Russia towards other states and international organisations. This vision is contingent on the constructive, neutral or unfriendly character of their policies with respect to the Russian Federation.
One of the central messages is that Russia does not consider itself to be an enemy of the West, is not isolating itself from the West and has no hostile intentions with regard to it; Russia hopes that in the future the states belonging to the Western community will realise that their policy of confrontation and hegemonic ambitions lacks prospects. They will take into account the complex realities of a multipolar world and will resume a pragmatic cooperation with Russia guided by the principles of sovereign equality and respect for each other's interests. The Russian Federation is ready for dialogue and cooperation on such a basis.
The new Concept stipulates that Russia, taking into account its decisive contribution to the victory in World War II and its active role in shaping the contemporary system of international relations and eliminating the global system of colonialism, is one of the sovereign centres of global development performing a historically unique mission aimed at maintaining global balance of power and building a multipolar international system.
We recognise that currently there is an imbalanced model of world development which has for centuries ensured the advanced economic growth of colonial powers. It happened through the appropriation of resources of dependent territories and states in Asia and Africa. This model is irrevocably fading into the past. Recently the sovereignty and competitive opportunities of non-Western world powers and regional leading countries are being strengthened.
The key task of the foreign policy of Russia is to promote the formation and strengthening of a multipolar world based on the rejection of hegemony in international affairs, the exercise by states of their right to freely choose the path of development, the rule of international law, the cultural and civilizational diversity of the world, and the protection of traditional spiritual and moral values. Russia intends to continue to play a stabilising and balancing role in maintaining international security. Undermining the central role of the UN is unacceptable.
3. This April Russia has taken charge of the UN Security Council. We will make every possible effort to ensure effective work of the UNSC in the interests of the political and diplomatic resolution of crises and the maintenance of global stability.
On April 5 Russia initiated an informal Arria-Formula Security Council Meeting dedicated to its efforts to evacuate children from the conflict zone. On April 10 Russia initiated Security Council meeting on the risks stemming from the violations of the agreements regulating the export of weapons and military equipment. It is our conviction that in the present circumstances, it is vital to thoroughly analyse the consequences of non-compliance with contractual obligations on the “end-use control” of military-purpose products, as well as to discuss ways of countering such destructive steps.
Among other events we are planning are a quarterly open ministerial debate on the Middle East settlement scheduled for April 25, which will be chaired by Sergey Lavrov. Other important issues on the UN Security Council agenda in April will include the political and humanitarian aspects of the situation in Syria, the situation in Yemen, Libya, Mali and the Great Lakes Region, Haiti and Colombia, and a settlement in Western Sahara.
And finally, a key event to be held as part of the Russian presidency will be a high-level open debate on effective multilateralism through the protection of the principles of the UN Charter, chaired by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The purpose of the open debate is to reaffirm our strong commitment to the UN Charter and emphasise the principle of the sovereign equality of states, as well as to thoroughly consider the opportunities for strengthening the foundations of genuine multilateralism, which takes into account the opinions and concerns of all states.
As you understand, we have chosen this subject against the backdrop of increasing attempts by a number of countries to subjugate the UN exclusively to their own interests and replacing it with its “rules-based international order” concept. I would like to emphasise that cooperation in formats like Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations becomes increasingly important.