Earlier, the President congratulated current and former staff of the Foreign Ministry on their professional holiday.
* * *
The beginning of the meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Lavrov, today you and your colleagues mark your professional holiday, Diplomats’ Day. I would like to congratulate you and all Russian diplomats on this holiday.
We know that your work is very important, demanding and difficult, and that it has recently become extremely dangerous. I would like to thank you for everything you, your assistants and the diplomatic corps as a whole are doing in the interests of Russia towards strengthening its positions on the international stage. I have the best wishes for you.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: Thank you very much, Mr President.
We have received your message of greetings, which was read out at a meeting held today on the occasion of Diplomats’ Day. Thank you for the kind words you wrote in that message and have said just now.
We appreciate your concern for and your attention to the diplomatic service, particularly to our professional tasks and also to the need to strengthen our workforce capacity, resources and to ensure social protection. This inspires our personnel to work honestly and efficiently in line with the Foreign Policy Concept that was adopted, with your agreement, in November last year.
The Concept reflects a new stage in the history of international relations and follows on the concept that was adopted in 2000 and focused on openness, pragmatism and willingness to work with everyone who is ready to reciprocate on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
I would like to mention that we continue promoting counterterrorism cooperation. There are more and more supporters of the initiative you put forward eighteen months ago to build a broad counterterrorist front. As people abandon superficial and momentary considerations they become aware of the need to choose their priorities.
Another area of our efforts are integration processes, strengthening ties with our partners within the CSTO, the Eurasian Economic Union, SCO, BRICS, the Group of Twenty and of course cooperation within the United Nations as the main pillar of international law and cooperation.
Let me share some interesting figures with you. We signed several dozen agreements on visa-free travel between the Russian Federation and other countries as part of our efforts to facilitate people-to-people contacts.
Over the last two years, tourist flows have been stable with the overall number of tourists steady at about 35 million on average. Interestingly, inbound tourism remains at a very high level with 25 million foreigners visiting Russia every year.
I think that if we continue to promote people-to-people ties and cooperation with the civil society in other countries, it could help open borders, giving people more opportunities to interact with each other and thus help resolve many international issues in close cooperation with the Presidential Executive Office, the Government, the parliament and the civil society.
The Foreign Ministry has a business council, an academic council and a council of the heads of Russian regions and we maintain regular contacts with non-governmental organisations that are also supported by the Russian International Affairs Council and the Gorchakov Foundation, which were established several years ago on your instructions.
Once again, thank you for your high praise. In the congratulatory message you have sent us we saw not only an acknowledgment of our work, but also new objectives that we will not work to meet.
Vladimir Putin: Best of luck to you.