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Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov on Russian Foreign Policy post Munich, March 23, 2007

"Munich: World Politics at the Crossroads" Article of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Published in the Newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti on March 23, 2007.

See also: 'Unilateral and frequently illegitimate actions have not resolved any problems', President Vladimir Putin, February 10, 2007 Speech at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 10, 2007.

Analysis of events in recent years, and world reaction to Russia's foreign policy, and particularly the Munich speech of President Vladimir Putin bear out the viability and relevance of our strategy in international affairs. The results of the Foreign Policy Survey, carried out by the Ministry on the President's instruction, also attest to this.

The chief conclusion: our choice made in 2000 in favor of pragmatism, multivectorness and the firm, but unconfrontational upholding of national interests has fully acquitted itself.

At the base of our vision of the world now as then lies common sense and a sober assessment of the tendencies determining contemporary world development. The Boston Globe, analyzing President Putin's Munich speech, wrote: "Moscow, ahead of Washington, has come to comprehend a key fact: The world is becoming a polyarchy - an international system run by numerous and diverse actors with a shifting kaleidoscope of associations and dependencies." Hence the need for network diplomacy.

It is thanks largely to the strengthening of Russia that, for the first time in the last decade and a half, a real competitive environment has taken shape in the market of ideas for a world pattern adequate to the contemporary stage of world development. The rise of new global centers of influence and growth, and more even distribution of development resources and of control over natural wealth lay down the material basis for a multipolar world order.

A multipolar world is not set for confrontation. It's simply that new power centers are objectively coming into being. They compete, particularly for influence and access to natural resources. Such was always the case and there is nothing fatal about this. But there should be no "zero games" in this regard; for what's required is to form the collective leadership of major states of the mulitipolar world - a leadership relying upon international law and respecting the role of the UN. Here is the way to solving the problem of governability in the world today.

The experience of the last six years convincingly shows that attempts to get around the reality of the multipolar world turn into failure. Whatever examples we may take, the conclusion is but one: contemporary problems do not have unilateral, even less so force-based solutions. Attempts to deal with them by the use of force only aggravate and stalemate the situation. The sense of a shortage of security is also caused by stagnation in the disarmament sphere, which exacerbates the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

I think the imposition upon the world of a hypertrophied significance of the factor of force is a temporary phenomenon. The role of the force component in world politics will diminish. Here one can draw a parallel with the 1992 presidential elections in the US, when not all grasped the importance of the factor of the economy: "It's the economy, stupid." Now, on a global scale, questions of sustainable economic and social development of states, including the satisfaction of energy requirements, the war on poverty and the protection of the environment, have come to the fore. It is the increased economic interdependence that serves as an important factor of maintaining international stability.

We regard staking on force as the fundamental drawback of the policy of the countries that advocate it. The phrase ascribed to Stalin, "How many divisions has the Pope?" determined this mentality in its time. Now, when we are discussing Iraq, in response to our proposals to work collectively we often hear: "And is Russia ready to send its troops to Iraq?" As though other forms of joint work could not possibly exist.

Profiting from others' misfortunes has always been alien to us. But inescapably the coalition's Iraq strategy has to be radically changed and brought into conformity with the prevalent analysis, in other capitals as well as in the US itself. In this vein, we must see the multilateral conference held in Baghdad a few days ago. It was decided to continue this process, and it needs to be used to devise a new, collective strategy in Iraq. As they say, better later...

In our relations with the US there is no confrontational predeterminedness. It is not about a new "cold war," for which there are no objective reasons. A negativist approach is basically alien to our foreign policy.

But it is important for us to see consistency and logic in the partners' actions. If under the pretext of an "Iranian threat" elements of the United States' national missile defense are being deployed near our western borders, and sanctions are being imposed against Russian companies, then why make unnecessary fuss in the UN Security Council? I hope the American partners will ponder this. Especially as they are exhorting us to combat a hypothetical threat while at the same time creating a real threat to our security.

We are against "strategic games" in Europe that may, literally in an empty place, create a confrontational potential and build a European policy on the "ours-theirs" principle. There are in Europe collective alternatives to the unilateral NMD project, particularly in the form of a TMD system involving NATO and Russia and having regard to the security interests of all. The collective approach would remove this problem, whereas the realization of the unilateral plans will directly affect our relations with NATO. Anyway, new missiles in Europe is deja vu with quite predictable consequences of the early 80s type.

In principle what makes us cautious is that the entities and instruments inherited by us from the past - NATO, the OSCE, the CFE Treaty and a number of others - in real life are turning into means of reproducing bloc policy in the present day conditions. I am certain this can't long continue. There exists a real danger that the situation with a European security architecture reform not carried through might be conserved, predetermining a real split of Europe for decades in advance. Here runs the boundary line of this stage of European politics.

The chief task today is to work out the modality of further interaction in international affairs. Herein lies the significance of the discussion for which President Putin invited all our partners in Munich. A discussion frank, honest, based on acknowledgement of the realities of the contemporary world. Full equality, particularly in threat analysis and decision making, is an indispensable minimum.

Source: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, http://www.russianembassy.org.

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.