On 10 February each year the Russian diplomatic service celebrates its professional holiday Russian Diplomats Day, which was established by the Presidential Decree in 2002.

The date is closely associated with the history of Russia’s first Foreign Affairs Agency the Ambassadorial Department established on 10 February 1549.

In 1718-1720 it was gradually transformed into the Collegium of Foreign affairs by Emperor Peter the Great. In 1802, the modern form of foreign policy management the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created by the manifesto of Emperor Alexander I.

After the October revolution, under the decree of the new government the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs was organised but in 1946 returned its name of a Ministry.

Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs consists of several thousand employees of the Central Office in Moscow, more than 200 foreign offices around the world (Embassies, Consulates, etc.) and about 40 regional offices in the Russian Federation.

Russian Diplomats’ Day gives a good opportunity to highlight main international events and summarise the results of Russia’s diplomatic efforts during the previous year.

The international situation in 2018 remained complicated. The conflict potential increased last year, primarily because of the unwillingness of some Western countries led by the United States to accept the realities of the objectively developing multipolar world, as well as because of their desire to continue to force their will on others by means of pressure and economic and propaganda instruments.

Russia continued to pursue a multi directional foreign policy focused on protecting its national interests. Work was done to strengthen the positive trends on the international stage, to find collective solutions based on international law to the problems all countries are facing, and ultimately to promote a fairer and more democratic poly-centric world order in keeping with objective modern realities.

Russia closely cooperated with its allies and partners at the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Commonwealth of Independent States, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, as well as kept working constructively in the key global governance bodies, primarily the UN and G20.

As part of Russia’s presidency of the EAEU, work was done to strengthen the organisation’s international standing and towards aligning the EAEU with China’s Belt and Road initiative and promoting the Russia Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) strategic partnership, including in the context of President Putin’s initiative for creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership based on the logic of harmonising Russia’s integration processes and open for accession to all countries and associations both in Asia and in Europe.

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International terrorism has been dealt a defeating blow in Syria. This allowed to preserve the Syrian state and to launch economic recovery and the return of refugees back home.

In keeping with the decisions taken at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, the guarantor countries of the Astana Process Russia, Turkey and Iran worked hard to help form the Constitutional Committee by convincing the Syrian Government and the opposition to approve the list of its potential members. This has created conditions for a political process in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 in the interests of a lasting settlement of the Syrian crisis.

Russia supported the positive trends on the Korean Peninsula based on the logic of the Russian Chinese road map for a settlement.

Another major result of the past year was the signing of the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea at the fifth Caspian Summit. This convention seals the coastal states’ exclusive rights to this unique body of water and its mineral and other resources.

Russia made significant efforts to ensure international information security and to fight cyber-crime. In December, the UN General Assembly approved two resolutions on this matter on Russia’s initiative.

Russia paid special attention to the further development of contacts with the multi-million Russian world. The 6th World Congress of Russian Compatriots Living Abroad on 31 October-1 November held in Moscow.

Russia expanded humanitarian, research and educational ties, and supported various initiatives aimed at introducing the world community to the best achievements of national culture and art. Russia assisted foreign countries in the training of their national personnel.

The FIFA World Cup was a highlight last year a real triumph of public diplomacy. Millions of foreign guests visited Russia.

A lot of progress has been achieved in developing Russian Sri Lankan relations. The latest example of the ever-growing partnership is the establishment of direct flights between Moscow and Colombo in October 2018. Russia is confident that it will greatly contribute to the people-to-people contacts as well as to the exchange of business delegations.

This year, Russia intends to step up efforts in all the key areas. Among top priorities is the promotion of creating a truly universal anti terrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN, mobilising the international community to more effectively combat drug trafficking and other types of organised crime.

Russia will help consolidate positive trends in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula, resolve other crises and conflicts, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in Ukraine, where there is no alternative to the full and consistent implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

As before, Russia is interested in restoring normal relations with the US and the EU on the principles of equality and mutual consideration of interests but will continue to respond appropriately to the increased NATO military activity and its military infrastructure being moved closer to the Russian borders.