Press Releases

Address of His Excellency, the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. Sergey V. Lavrov at the Meeting with the Representatives of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, Business Circles, Scientific Community, Mass Media
(Colombo, October 26, 2009)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

First of all allow me to thank Sri Lankas leadership for the cordial welcome and for the opportunity to address the members of Parliament, business circles, scientific community and mass media.

The world today is at a turning point, indeed at a historic stage of its development. We are facing rapid changes happening at the international arena, and the process is gathering pace. In fact, what we witness is the end of the twenty-year period, which has nourished these changes that are now bringing the international relations to a qualitatively new level. The global financial and economic crisis, the first large-scale crisis of the globalization era, is making this process more acute. It has clearly showed the inadequacy of the model of world economic development which dominated until recently, as well as of the policy of inertia based on the wrong conclusions made out of the end of the cold war.

Now everyone has to acknowledge that the prospect of a unipolar world was just an illusion. More and more vivid are the contours of the emerging multipolar world, which for the first time in history embodies pluralism of cultures and civilizations, heterogeneity and multistructural character of the world. The multipolar reality is irreversibly asserting itself at all levels, laying down the foundation for restoring the manageability of the world development.

A more fair and democratic world order is only possible if it is based on strict adherence to international law. The understanding of the norms of international law, as well as their application should be universal. The principle of the rule of law is of no less importance internationally than domestically. In this respect strengthening of the central coordinating role of the United Nations and its Security Council as a unique legitimate mechanism of ensuring international peace and security is the foremost task. A new international system of global governance emanating from the principle of equality of the sovereign states should be built around the United Nations and on the firm foundation of its Charter.

All nations are facing such global threats as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, transborder crime, drug trafficking, pandemics, climate change. The very scale of these challenges, impossibility of their solution by a single state or a group of states determine a positive and unifying agenda in world politics, the need to abandon closed block mentality, ideological divides and prejudices of the past.

One of the most dangerous challenges is the threat of intercivilization break-up. Preventing such development must become a priority for the entire world community. After all, confrontation based on religious and civilization differences may turn out to be more dangerous than the dividing lines of the cold war period. Hence we feel an urgent need to promote further tolerance and intercivilizational accord, create a truly equal and constructive partnership among states regardless of their cultural and religious traditions. It is very well understood here, in Sri Lanka, as well as in South Asia and in the entire Asia Pacific region.

Promoting constructive dialogue between representatives of different religions, cultures and civilizations is an indisputable priority of Russias domestic as well as foreign policy. This is the most important way of harmonizing international relations through bringing closer different development models and cultures and ensuring their co-existence and mutual enrichment.

We are confident that todays problems cannot be resolved by force. Those who try to resort to brutal force to achieve their political goals must be stopped. But at the same time we should tackle the causes of new threats and challenges rather than their consequences. This fully applies to fighting international terrorism, which must include not only resolute response to terrorist attacks, but also fighting poverty, hunger, illiteracy, improving social and economic life of people. We are strongly against any efforts to associate terrorism with a particular ethnic group or religion. Terrorist ideology violates the tenets of any faith.

Intensifying cooperation in different multilateral formats, first of all in the framework of the United Nations, as well as in G-20, G-8 various regional structures in Asia and Pacific and other regions, helps create the mechanisms of collective leadership, which will be representative both in geographic and civilizational respects. This is also one of the main prerequisites of restoring manageability in international relations on the basis of the rule law and multilateral diplomacy.

The regionalization of the global politics is another important trend in the international relations. More reliance on the regional level to manage various issues serves a safety net when the global mechanisms are failing to find adequate responses to conflicts or crisis situations. It happens all over the world, including South Asia. That is also true with regard to the situation around Iranian nuclear programme, Iraq and Afghanistan, where more emphasis of engaging regional factors is required to find a comprehensive solution. Regional and sub-regional trade pacts and other forms of economic cooperation in various parts of the world are becoming an important additional means of protection against economic and financial crisis.

In June this year Sri Lanka became a dialogue partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. This year status expands your countrys opportunities in the context of regional cooperation, including participation in various SCO projects on a wide range of issues.

Today the mankind can and must overcome ideological barriers and analyze the situation in the world in non-confrontational categories. As President D.A.Medvedev stated recently, what we all need today is a smart, rational policy and pragmatism at the state level.

This approach that serves as a foundation of the Russias foreign policy. We are open to joint work with all states who are interested to solve common tasks on the basis of equality, mutual respect and consideration for the interests of each other.

The Asia and Pacific region is one of the most dynamically developing regions of the world. That is where the centre of the global economy is gradually shifting. This objective trend can be strengthened by the creation of transparent security system in the region that should promote collective approaches and balance of interests of all regional states.

Russia is interested in strengthening multilateral ties with our traditional partners in Asia. Your country occupies an important place in our Asian policy. From the middle of last century my country was providing multifaceted assistance to the economic development of Sri Lanka. Since then the relations between our two peoples have always been friendly and cordial.

For me personally this visit to Sri Lanka is of particular importance as I began my diplomatic career at the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Colombo in 1972 and have retained the warmest memories of your beautiful country and the friends that I have acquired here.

Today I met with President Mahinda Rajapakse and my colleague Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, as well as Minister of Export Development and International Trade Gamini Lakshmi Peires. We came to a joint conclusion that our cooperation has very good prospects. Moscow and Colombo see eye to eye on key problems of modern times, first of all with regard to the establishment of a more just and democratic world order.

Our countries are active participants of the global struggle against terrorism. has become a vivid example of our cooperation. Russia supported the counter-terrorist actions of the Government of Sri Lanka during the discussions in various UN bodies.

Availing myself of this opportunity I would like to congratulate you all with the cessation of the armed conflict. This is the best monument to the memory of the former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Lakshman Kadirgamar, to the respect to his widow Suganti Kadirgamar. I hope that the newly acquired peace and stability will open the way to successful development of the united Sri Lankan society on the basis of national reconciliation and respect for the rights of all ethnic and religious groups. We are contributing to creating conditions for such development. Recently we made a voluntary contribution to the budget of the UNHCR earmarked to finance projects in your country to benefit the ID PS. Earlier this month we sent to Colombo a planeload of humanitarian assistance. A team of experts came to your island to access the demining needs. We will continue this assistance.

We value the dynamic ties between our parliaments. The Russian MPs have repeatedly visited your country and last year we have received in Moscow the representative delegation of your parliament led by Honorable Speaker Mr. Lokubandara. I am sure that the exchanges between our parliamentarians will assist the comprehensive development of our relations.

There is a large potential for the development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Russians are traditionally fond of Ceylon tea and as you know we are the world largest buyer of this famous product. We would also like to see more goods from Russia in your country, as well as to bring here in bigger way our experience in executing industrial and infrastructure projects. That is exactly what we were discussing today with His Excellency the President and his Minister, including the possibilities for Russian companies to participate in gas exploration, modernization of oil refinery in Sapugaskande built by the Soviet Union, construction of sea ports.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Sri Lanka-Russia Business Council of the Trade Chamber of Ceylon and to all

Sri Lankan businessmen who are displaying interest in economic cooperation with my country. We hope that this enthusiasm will translate in more specific steps soon.

We highly value the humanitarian and cultural aspect of our relations. Hundreds of Sri Lankan students continue the tradition of studying at Russian universities. I welcome the representatives of the Association of the graduates of Soviet and Russian universities that are present here today.

Tourism is another promising area. Last year 16 thousands Russians visited your wonderful beaches, mountains and historic sites, and the interest is growing.

We welcome continuing contacts between the Sri Lankan and Russian Buddhist communities and are ready to provide necessary further assistance to them.

I am particularly grateful to Sri Lankan writers, translators and journalists that acquaint the people of Sri Lanka with the richest cultural heritage of Russia, who translate the writings of Russian authors, including Anton Pavlovitch Chekhov who stayed in your country and whose 150th anniversary we will mark next January.

All in all, there is a very substantial potential of enriching further our cooperation in many areas for the benefit of our countries and our peoples, for strengthening of peace and security in the region. Russia is ready for such joint work.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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