Russia celebrates the Day of Diplomats
On February 10 Russian diplomats celebrate their professional day, which was instituted in 2002 by a Decree of the President of the Russian Federation. The date of the holiday, the 10th of February, is associated with the history of Russia's first foreign affairs agency - the "Posolsky Prikaz". On this day of 1549 falls its mention, and clerk Ivan Viskovaty became its first head by being "entrusted with the ambassadorial business".
Toward the end of the fifteenth century after the creation of a Russian state with Moscow as its capital, the diplomacy of apanage principalities gave way to that by one state, and the creation of a special diplomatic department became necessary to deal with foreign policy tasks. Since then the diplomatic service was made into a special office of the state and received a special status.
The victory in the Northern War, and the assumption by Peter I in 1721 of the title Emperor signified fundamentally important changes in the international standing of the Russian state. The establishment of Russia as a great European power was supported by the creation of a network of its permanent diplomatic missions in leading countries of the world. In 1718-1720 Peter I transformed the Posolsky Prikaz into the Collegium of Foreign Affairs. The galaxy of talented Russian diplomats that served in the Collegium laid down the basic principles and methods of Russian diplomacy.
On September 8, 1802 a manifesto of Emperor Alexander I established the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Count A. R. Vorontsov became the first foreign minister. By 1914 Russia already had a ramified network of diplomatic and consular representations abroad. Thus, there were eleven such overseas agencies in 1758, 102 in 1868, and 147 in 1897. By the start of World War I Russia had more than 200 representations abroad.
Practically right after the October Revolution of 1917 the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs was created to replace the Ministry. During the 1920s the PCFA was engaged in a major endeavor to bring Soviet Russia out of political isolation and get it recognized as an equal and integral subject of international relations. The USSR actively participated in international pacts and conferences. In the conditions of the origination of a seat of war in the center of Europe and the growth of a war danger in the Far East, Soviet diplomacy came out for the creation of a system of collective security.
In the years of World War II Soviet diplomacy persistently pursued a line on creating and strengthening the antifascist coalition and on opening a second front in Europe, participated in the elaboration of all the fundamental inter-Ally documents and contributed significantly to the creation of the United Nations Organization.
In 1946 the Commissariats were reconstituted as the USSR Ministries. In the postwar period the struggle for peace, international detente and disarmament emerged as the priority thrusts of the Soviet MFA. A great deal was being done to bolster the authority of the UN as a universal vehicle for governing international relations. The Soviet Union had a leading role in the politico-legal assurance of the decolonization of Afro-Asian peoples.
Soviet diplomacy really assisted the pan-European process, in the development of which the signing in 1975 at Helsinki of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was an important milestone. Understandings were reached with respect to arms race limitation and disarmament.
In 2008 President Dmitry A. Medvedev approved the Russian Federation Foreign Policy Concept, worked out with the participation of the MFA, in accordance with which the MFA “conducts the work on the direct implementation of the foreign policy course approved by the President of the Russian Federation and exercises coordination of the foreign policy activity of the federal executive bodies and control over it.”
Nowadays the Russian Federation has diplomatic relations with 191 countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has 236 embassies, general consulates and representative offices attached to international organizations.
The present strengthening of the positions of Russian diplomacy is based on the results of internal creative work, realistic analysis of the key tendencies in world development and the well-considered foreign policy principles, such as pragmatism, multivectorness and a consistent upholding of national interests. The best traditions of Russian diplomats have always been an enlightened patriotism, high professional culture, profound understanding of national interests, respect for other nations as equal partners and ability to correlate their diplomatic activity with the real possibilities and resources of the country.