Press Releases

    SG/SM/8262
    6 June 2002

    SECRETARY-GENERAL, ACCEPTING MOSCOW AWARD, SAYS STRENGTH OF RUSSIAN SPIRIT ‘IS YOUR COUNTRY’S GREATEST NATURAL ASSET’

    Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on receiving the Commemorative Medal of Prince Gorchakov, Moscow, 5 June:

    I am deeply honoured by this award -- and doubly so since I am the first non-Russian to receive it.

    Prince Gorchakov was not only a remarkably skilful diplomat. He was also a man with an exceptional gift for patience and timing in choosing his moment to take decisive action. At the same time, he stood by his conviction, as he put it, that "noble goals cannot be reached by means of intrigue".

    I believe recent moves in Russian diplomacy echo Gorchakov’s legacy. How apt, therefore, that you are holding celebrations next month for the bicentenary of your Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    During these two centuries, the world has undergone extraordinary upheavals -- not least here in Russia itself. And what has characterized the history of your country throughout this time, perhaps more than anything else, has been the equally extraordinary courage and resilience of the Russian people.

    The strength of that spirit is something that can never be broken. It is your country’s greatest natural asset.

    Today, humankind is confronting a world very different from the one Gorchakov lived in. The complex forces of globalization have created a set of challenges and opportunities he could scarcely have dreamt of.

    The benefits of globalization are obvious; yet so far, these benefits have been distributed far too unevenly. It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the law of gravity. But that does not mean we should accept a law that allows only heavyweights to survive. On the contrary: we must make globalization an engine that lifts people out of hardship and misery, and offers them the chance of a better future.

    To do that, we must learn how to govern better together, at every level, from the local to the global. We must build partnerships strong enough to make sure that the global market is embedded in broadly shared values and practices that reflect people’s needs. We must build partnerships strong enough to create a more humane, healthy and equitable planet, and ensure that globalization works for all the world’s people.

    In short, we must place people at the centre of everything we do. That must be the guiding motto of the United Nations in the twenty-first century.

    Minister [Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov], permit me to quote your own wise words to the Millennium Assembly, where you said that the main task for human civilization in the last century was that of survival. You urged that today the strategy of survival give way to a strategy of sustainable development and prosperity of mankind.

    I can think of no better way to sum up the spirit behind our shared mission in this new millennium. And I shall treasure this Medal of Prince Gorchakov as a symbol of our partnership in pursuit of it. Spasibo bolshoye. Thank you very much.

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