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I would like to greet all of you to the 6th World Congress of Russian Compatriots and declare the event open.
Pursuant to the law On the Russian Federation’s State Policy Toward Compatriots Living Abroad, Moscow hosts representatives of a multimillion and multiethnic Russian World every three years in order to discuss pressing problems concerning its functioning and to draw up future plans.
We attach great importance to these major assemblies that can help better understand what kind of a life Russian people living abroad are having and coordinate with you our joint steps aimed at further integration of our efforts as well as the implementation of beneficial endeavours in a variety of fields for the sake of protecting the legitimate rights and interests of our compatriots living abroad.
Currently, there are associations of Russian compatriots functioning in more than 100 countries. Their contribution to the creation of conditions for learning the Russian language and making Russian cultural achievements more popular can hardly be overestimated. Not only the Russian Orthodox Church but also other traditional religions open places of worship. We are happy that the process of consolidation and self-organisation continues. We are ready to assist it in any way possible and boost our efforts in this sphere.
I would like to point out the presence of delegates from Syria, with representatives of the younger generation among them, in this very hall. You have managed to preserve your touch with Russia during the hard times of the intra-Syrian conflict. We will continue to support you in every possible way we can when it comes to your noble efforts in promoting the Russian language and disseminating unbiased information about our country in all strata of the Syrian society. Your participation in this congress is proof that life in Syria is returning back to a peaceful way of life. Russia will go on making its contribution to the settlement of the Syrian crisis on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, decisions taken in the Astana format and results of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi.
Problems have not eased in the world since our previous meeting. It is a fact that severe pressure has been put on Russia. The instruments used towards this end vary from economic sanctions to the build-up of military activity near our borders. The anti-Russia information campaign has grown to unprecedented proportions.
Many of you have suffered from the consequences of these negative trends in your countries. Attacks on the Russian language and education are increasing in some countries. Persistent attempts are being taken to sow discord in the compatriots’ organisations, including their youth pisions. I am glad to say that these attacks have failed. These Russophobic policies have been countered with the growing unity of our compatriots’ movements and solidarity between their organisations. I would like to use this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all our compatriots, both the citizens of Russia and also other countries, for their invaluable support in holding the presidential election in Russia. We see this as vivid proof of the inseparable bonds connecting you to your homeland.
Large-scale socioeconomic development plans are being implemented in Russia. We know that Russian communities abroad, including young people, would like to contribute to these efforts. We welcome and support their desire.
Of course, this calls for new formats of cooperation. In particular, the time has come to hold a serious discussion on the methods of how to strengthen cooperation between business structures in Russia and similar organisations created by our compatriots outside Russia. Now that the strength of the international economic architecture based on WTO principles and the values of fair competition has been put to test, it is especially important to develop direct ties between economic operators.
The Russian regions are working with compatriots and have proposed new unique forms of such interaction. The Government Commission on Compatriots Living Abroad not only analyses this experience but is also promoting it. We hope to continue to build up our joint efforts in this sphere.
Another job is to improve the operations of the World Coordinating Council of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad. We know about your ideas and will do our best to help you implement them.
Early this year, the Government Commission adopted a comprehensive action plan for 2018-2020 to implement the State Policy toward Compatriots Living Abroad. The number of people involved in these actions has greatly increased compared to previous plans. For the first time ever, NGOs will be involved in this work. The Federation Council and the State Duma are doing a lot towards formulating our policy. The Russian regions are increasing the effectiveness of their contribution as well.
The Government Commission has prepared proposals on enhancing the effectiveness of our joint efforts. They will be discussed in detail at this congress, including at the meetings of its working groups.
Today, the range of matters linked with supporting the wellbeing of foreign compatriots so that they can retain their Russian identity is acquiring great significance. This is particularly important in those states where the Russian language and Russian education are being persecuted, where history is being rewritten, where Russia’s achievements and victories are being deleted from school textbooks, where false information is being spread about Russia and where Russophobia is being actively promoted.
The task of enriching modern national culture with the Russian World’s achievements remains topical. It is important to strengthen the multiethnic and multidenominational nature of our communities, including through streamlined dialogue between ethnic groups. A serious job lies ahead here, and it should involve ministries and agencies as well as compatriots’ organisations. Participants in a workshop dealing with ethnic identity will also discuss this aspect.
We would like to note with satisfaction that the number of events, held by compatriots’ youth organisations, continues to increase. Their participants voice numerous new and unconventional ideas that are discussed at forums in Russia and elsewhere. It is gratifying that young people are keeping up with the times. The most advanced information and communications technology is being used in the interests of establishing mutually beneficial contacts as well as implementing ambitious and trans-border initiatives.
We consider it important that young compatriots be worthy members of their societies, and that their rights be guaranteed in the countries where they are residing. At the same time, they should continue to love their native language and culture and have a feeling of involvement in the life of Russia, their historical Motherland. We have launched several pilot projects, including those utilising the potential of our regions. These projects will help our young compatriots see for themselves how modern Russia lives. A separate special section of the Congress deals with this subject.
Printed and online Russian-language media, established by compatriots themselves, remain an intransient factor of uniting the Russian World. They help establish horizontal contacts and spread objective information about this country. We are grateful to all those who invest their strength, knowledge, energy and financial assets in preserving and expanding these information platforms. I am confident that experts will exchange experience and ideas, as regards prospects for expanding media work, during our Congress’ meetings.
We will continue to focus on defending the rights of Russian-speaking journalists falling victim to discriminatory policies and often facing undisguised blackmail and threats. We will continue to proactively demand that such multilateral venues as the UN, the OSCE as well as the Council of Europe respond to these matters.
Colleagues and friends,
The Russian community abroad is not only multiethnic and multireligious but also multifaceted. Therein lays its strength and wealth. Even those, not taking part in the activities of the entities of compatriots, are making favorable contributions to the common cause: they have a desire to preserve their native tongue within their families, they encourage their children to love their homeland and they promote an unbiased image of our country and maintain professional contacts with their Russian colleagues. I am sure that such people are always welcome in the coordinating councils of the country, serving as an important unifying link.
Our congress has put together people who are not indifferent to the destiny of the Russian world, seeking to give a helping hand to its ancestral land and working for its progressive development as well as an atmosphere of stronger trust and partnership in international affairs.
I would like to reassure you: protection of your legitimate rights and interests remains an unconditional priority of the Russian leadership stipulated in the Russian Foreign Policy Concept approved by President Vladimir Putin.
I wish you all the very best and I hope that your discussions will be productive. I also wish you every success in your noble and highly demanding activities.
Building of the Russian Embassy in Kingston