Russian Diaspora on path to consolidation

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

Drawing by Dmitry Divin

As the fifth World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad is about to commence, the Russian Foreign Minister outlines one of the major tenets of the country's foreign policy.

The fifth World Congress of Compatriots Living Abroad, opens in Moscow on November 5, is expected to become an important stage in the further consolidation of the Russian World.

The Russian community abroad amounts to approximately 30 million people and is the fourth largest diaspora population in the world. The diaspora’s formation began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and occurred in waves associated with momentous events in our national history.

An important milestone in recent years was the first World Congress of Compatriots in 2001. The memory of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which left more than 25 million compatriots outside the homeland, was then still fresh. To find one's place in these new conditions, to preserve ethnic and cultural identity, to ensure the maintenance of ties with the historical homeland; these problems were of great importance for the majority of compatriots. And the country's leaders responded to their aspirations.

Providing full support to the Russian World is the absolute priority of Russia's foreign policy, recorded in the Foreign Policy Concepts of the Russian Federation. As President Vladimir Putin has confirmed on more than one occasion, we will continue to vigorously defend the rights of compatriots, using the entire arsenal of means available under international law.

The Russian World is an important resource to strengthen the atmosphere of trust and understanding in relations between Russia and our compatriots' countries of residence. We will continue to explain to our partners that the presence of the Russian diaspora in their countries is an important factor for enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral relations in various spheres.

The Russian Foreign Ministry provides full support to the Fund to shore up and protect the rights of compatriots living abroad. Since it was established in January 2013, it has proved to be a much-needed mechanism for defending their legitimate interests and neutralizing attempts to discriminate against them, particularly in the Baltic States. The Fund makes a useful contribution as a countermeasure against the revision of results of World War II, the glorification of the Nazis and their accomplices, and all forms and manifestations of xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.

The celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Great Victory was a powerful unifying factor for the Russian diaspora. We are sincerely grateful to them for their contribution to the organization of the jubilee, for the fact that they do not forget the heroic pages of our history and are united in the need to defend the truth about the events of those years.

The effectiveness of our efforts is also evidenced by the implementation of the state programme to assist the voluntary resettlement of compatriots living abroad in the Russian Federation. More than 367,000 people have moved to Russia under the programme.

This process was strongly influenced by the situation in Ukraine; 1.2 million Ukrainian citizens alone have come to our country as a result of the war in Donbass unleashed by Kiev. The share of Ukrainian citizens amounts to more than half of the total number of compatriots who have come back to Russia.

We are not going to rest on our laurels. There is plenty of work ahead, which we will discuss in detail during the forthcoming Congress. I am convinced that together we will successfully solve the challenges we face in the interests of the further development of the enormous potential of the Russian World.

The author is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. This is an abridged version of remarks originally published in Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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