Sergei Lavrov: Rossotrudnichestvo Plays Key Role in Russian Language Program
Sep 4, 2012
Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov spoke at a meeting of Russian Science and Culture (RCSC) and representatives of the Federal Agency for CIS Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) in Moscow on September 3, 2012.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has just outlined the general direction of work where Rossotrudnichestvo must act more effectively to contribute to the creation of favorable external conditions for the development of our state. This is a key priority, the most important task of Russia's foreign policy in the emerging polycentric world order. This process is not going easily; I will not dwell on that, because the detailed analysis has been given in the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting of ambassadors and permanent representatives of the Foreign Ministry on July 9 this year.
What we now see as our application tasks follows from the Presidential Decree of May 7 this year "Measures for the implementation of the foreign policy of the Russian Federation." The President and Prime Minister of Russia have repeatedly stressed the priority of this work in the Commonwealth of Independent States. I am convinced that Rossotrudnichestvo must play an important role here. In addition to the innovative projects that will be implemented within the respective international programs whose ordering customer is Rossotrudnichestvo, we promote the idea that the Agency was empowered in the field of international development assistance.
This concept has been approved a while ago by the Russian Government. Not for the first time we are talking about the creation of an appropriate mechanism for the implementation of this concept in order for a substantial assistance, including favourable and voluntary assistance provided to us in accordance with international standards of different countries, especially in the CIS states, was vividly presented to the world public opinion, and that we used it more effectively in the foreign operation. Corresponding proposal was submitted to the Government. We expect that the functions of international development assistance will be given to Rossotrudnichesto not only for the countries of the CIS, which it already has. It is important that firstly, they were backed by real resources and, secondly, that other regions that are subject to the application of our relief efforts have also been coordinated in a single center.
Certainly, humanitarian cooperation in the CIS – is an area where the agency operates efficiently and should act much more actively, aggressively and proactively. I would like to mention Rossotrudnichestvo activities in such a direction as a motivation of our CIS partners to become more involved in the Interstate Fund for Humanitarian Cooperation and the Council for Humanitarian Cooperation of the CIS member states. Unfortunately, not everyone are showing sufficient activity in this area.
Medvedev mentioned such an important area as the promotion of education in Russia, export of educational services. I suggest considering transferring functions of single government institution to Rossotrudnichestvo that selects foreign students to study in Russian universities. Naturally, this selection is carried out in accordance with the recommendations for the relevant authorities, particularly with the Ministry of Education and Science. With an extensive network of offices abroad, Rossotrudnichestvo and its agents, in my opinion, would be happy to engage in the selection and to recommend promising and competent students to study in Russia.
Every year we are giving ten thousand state scholarships for foreigners. Considering what was said by the President, and the Prime Minister, I would suggest to double this figure and to consider providing annual scholarships to twenty thousand, highlighting the quota for compatriots students from friendly countries, particularly those in the CIS.
Russian language was already discussed today. I believe that we must actively support Rossotrudnichestvo which, together with the Ministry of Education and Science, is approved by the state customer of the Federal Special-Purpose program “Russian Language” in 2011-2015. Now, as requested by the President, the project of the State concept of support by Russian Federation the Russian language abroad is developed. Coordination of this project is in its final stage. This concept should be reflected in the relevant section of the State Program of the Russian Federation "foreign political activity."
We support the initiatives of Rossotrudnichestvo to expand Russian language. A good example of it is the execution of Pushkin Day for the second consecutive year. I note also the significant contribution of Rossotrudnichestvo to conduct "cross" culture of foreign countries.
We count on the active continuation of efforts for the preservation of Russian spiritual and memorial heritage abroad. Since 2010 Rossotrudnichestvo in cooperation with the Russian Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture, the Federal Archives Agency, the Government Commission on the Affairs of Compatriots Abroad is doing an important work to maintain overseas burial sites in good condition, which present historical and memorial significance for our country. It is hard to overestimate the moral and political aspects of the effort devoted to the implementation of a recent project "Russian Necropolis in Belgrade" in the cemetery "Novo Groblje.”
Of course there is still a lot to be done – which was fully discussed by D.A. Medvedev – in order to more effectively utilize the full range of factors of "soft power." Rossotrudnichestvo with an account of mandate and competence is a unique channel for the implementation of this important mission. The network of missions abroad, primarily Russian Science and Culture (RCSC) is being the significant source. They work closely with friendship societies and associations of our compatriots.
Of course, the protection of the legitimate rights of our compatriots remains in the focus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Government Commission on the Affairs of Compatriots Abroad. I am sure that on a range of issues related to their cultural and humanitarian needs, it is logical that Rossotrudnichestvo to be in charge of it in coordination with the Russian Embassy.
I support the task of the expansion of RCSC, based on the view not to chase the quantity, but to ensure quality in all senses. It is not just about the quality of the program activities, which continues to receive very little money, and we are concerned about it, but also about the condition of the centres themselves. According to our data, around 80% of the fund, which Rossotrudnichestvo is in charge of abroad, is in need of major repairs. They need to be upgraded, equipped with modern technology in line with the important and broad tasks assigned to the centers, which provide the ability to communicate with a broad social strata of the host countries. Condition of the buildings themselves is the face of our country and the prestige of Russia. They must truly become the centres of attraction of our compatriots, our friends, and those who are interested in Russia, as well as the centres of Russian Federation influence on public opinion through the factors and instruments of "soft power."
17 October, 2012 at a meeting of the Board of Foreign Affairs, we will analyze all aspects of Rossotrudnichestvo activities, including the substantive issues of the Agency and its organizational maintenance. We are grateful to D.A. Medvedev for the fact that the government is ready to consider the (hopefully positive) suggestions, which are prepared in accordance with the request of the President of Russia on strengthening and human resource capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economic Development and Rossotrudnichestvo. I hope that the concept will reflect the full range of tasks set by the President of the Government, which, I know, will be discussed at this meeting.
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