Speech by President Boris Yeltsin
at the Russian Foreign Ministry
12 May 1998
(…) Today, at the turn of the century, the world is going through deep qualitative changes. Multipolarity is becoming its determining factor. However, the transition to multipolarity is difficult and highly controversial. It should not be oversimplified.
For example, we see continued attempts to impose the interests of one state or of a group of states on the entire world community. It is high time to recognize that in the contemporary world, the more so in the world of the 21st century, there is no place for a dictate of one state, however powerful it is. There is no, and there could not be a single capital to which all the avenues of the world politics would lead.
You know as well as I do that the world's centers of gravity and influence are distinguished today not so much by their military might, but rather by their high levels of economic development. They gravitate by their scientific and cultural potential.
We have inherited from the USSR a situation of a "one-dimensional state" which possessed considerable military power, but had no solid economic basis.
To eliminate this disproportion is a task not only for domestic but for foreign policy as well.
At the same time the Russian diplomacy has to take into account that even a rapid transition to the multipolar world will not lead to an automatic elimination of all security threats.
Many "old" threats have disappeared. But new ones have already emerged, and probably there will appear yet new ones in the future.
The long discussion about the priorities for Russia's foreign policy is over. Russia's foreign policy concept has finally achieved well-defined features. Its basic elements rely on an increasing agreement between various social and political forces of our country. (…)
I would like to outline briefly several major directions of Russia's foreign policy.
This situation on the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States remains our prime concern. No doubt, there is a number of solid successes on this track. They are particularly noticeable in Russia's relations with Byelorussia, Ukraine, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
They are also seen in the new dynamics of the Customs Union of five states and in the emergence of a new troika - Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan.
But we still have to acknowledge: the CIS does not yield to what is expected from it - either from the point of our economic or political interests.
I will not dwell upon the causes of the existing situation. You know them well. I will only say that among other things our own indecisiveness, sluggishness, lack of interdepartmental coordination, and formalism are to blame.
Now, after the closing down of the Ministry for Cooperation with the CIS, which failed to show its effectiveness in anything, the Foreign Ministry is again becoming the head organization responsible for this priority direction for Russia. And I am not just counting on you in this respect, but I will hold you responsible in the future. (…)
Under the new circumstances Russia's ability to positively influence world developments has increased considerably.
The "G-8" has finally taken form. This is our joint and very important achievement. This is a most valuable mechanism for us for taking the bearings informally on global problems between leading political and economic powers. Now we should learn how to properly use it in the interest of Russia.
I would also like to stress: the central role in establishing a collective management of the development of international relations belongs to the United Nations. Our position of involving the UN Secretary General in resolving the Iraqi problem has helped to prevent the use of force.
We are interested in such a renewal of this organization which would increase UN capabilities for maintaining security on the global and regional levels while at the same time would consolidate the position of Russia as of a great power. (…)
After a period of certain illusions and exaggerated expectations equal interaction with the United States is emerging.
We must preserve a positive dynamic in relations with this country in the future, patiently, in the spirit of cooperation explain our position on issued where our views differ in principle.
The cooperation with our European partners, first of all, with France, Germany, Italy, and Finland is being consolidated. On our initiative the OSCE has begun drafting a European Security Charter.
While maintaining our strong negative attitude towards NATO's policies of expansion, at the same time we are establishing constructive relations with alliance.
Our main objective is to ensure that this interaction results in a radically changed NATO which would enhance the European security, not endanger it.
One of the latest undoubtfull achievements of our foreign policy is the decisive turn towards the Asia-Pacific region.
We have begun justifying in practice the idea of the unique character of the geopolitical location of Russia as a Eurasian state. We must advance even and further, support political breakthroughs with concrete economic agreements.
Similar approach should be used in relations with countries of Middle and Near East - where we lag behind, Latin America, and Africa.
I particularly would like to stress the positive changes in our relations with China, India, and Japan. Although, of course, now India has let us down with its explosion. I think, however, that by way of diplomacy, in the course of upcoming visit we will secure a change in its policies. (…)