Donald Hank
Edited text of Lavrov speech at UN
By Donald Hank
October 25, 2014

I was recently challenged by a UK correspondent to edit the translation of the latest speech by Foreign Minister Lavrov at the UN. The edited text is shown below.

Why this speech is important:

It shows that, while the Western elites preach 'democracy' on the individual level, they ignore the larger issue of sovereignty on an international level. Democracy is to the people as sovereignty is to nations. Lavrov asserts that one country or region has no right to dictate to other nations, no matter how unique they think they are.

Lavrov said that the Israeli Paltestine question is one of the main obstacles to peace in the Middle East.

Israel's right to exist cannot be questioned. The only topic for discussion is the size of Israel. How much territory is legitimately theirs.

I believe that the issues of terrorism and Israel's claims can only be resolved meaningfully if Israel and other leaders like Assad, possibly el-Sisi and anyone with a legitimate interest in the outcome sit down with the US and Russia. This will hardly happen in our atmosphere or Russophobia, which must absolutely be overcome in Washington before such negotiations can take place. In other words, spoiled brats in Washington must be replaced by adults.

There is no excuse for Russophobia. It is racism pure and simple. We may find out during negotiations that the Russians disagree with us. We have the right to state our grievances and claims. But it will eventually be impossible to keep pushing them aside and pretend they don't exist.

All in all, a comparison of Lavrov's speech with the speeches of Western 'leaders' is like a comparison between the whining of a school child and the patient words of a parent. The West increasingly sounds like a whining whimpering spoiled child, and I am talking about both sides of the aisle.

Don Hank

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Ladies and gentlemen

There is growing evidence today of a contradiction between collective, shared efforts in the interest of developing adequate responses to challenges common to all of us, and the aspiration of a number of states for domination and a revival of archaic lock-step thinking based on military drill discipline and the erroneous logic of "theirs vs ours."

The US-led western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights within individual countries acts from a directly opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principles of sovereign equality of states, as set forth in the UN Charter, and trying to decide for everyone what is good and what is evil.

Washington has openly declared its right to the unilateral use of military force wherever it so desires to advance its own interests. Military interference has become the norm, despite the dismal outcome of all operations of force that the US has carried out over recent years. The stability of the international system has been severely shaken by the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, the attack against Libya, and the failure in Afghanistan.

Only as a result of intensive diplomatic efforts was the aggression against Syria prevented in 2013. There was an involuntary impression that the goal of various color revolutions and other projects to change inconvenient regimes is to create chaos and instability.

Today, Ukraine has fallen victim to this arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the persisting deep-rooted systematic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic region. The West has embarked on a course towards vertical structuring of humanity, tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards.

After they declared victory in the "Cold War" and the so-called "End of History," the US and the EU opted to expand the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all the peoples of Europe. The western partners did not heed our numerous warnings of the inadmissibility of violating the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. Time and again, they have avoided serious joint efforts to establish a common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The Russian proposal to draft a European Security Treaty was rejected. We were told directly that the legally binding guarantees of security are only meant for the members of the North Atlantic Alliance, and at the time they continued to expand to the East in spite of the promises that were given to the contrary. NATO's instantaneous switch to hostile rhetoric, to a reduction in its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West's own interests, and to a buildup of military infrastructure on Russia's borders reveal the inability of the alliance to change its genetic code, created during the Cold War.

The US and the EU supported the coup d'état in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any and all actions by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that opted for suppression by force of the part of the Ukraine people which had rejected attempts to impose throughout the country an anti-constitutional order and wanted to defend its right to its native language, culture, and history. It is precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that led the population of Crimea to take its destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination.

This was an absolutely free choice, notwithstanding the fictions created by those who are primarily responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine. General attempts to distort the truth and hide facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis. Nothing has been done to try to hold to account those responsible for the bloody February events at Maidan, and the massive loss of human life in Odessa, Mariupol, and other regions of Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in Southeastern Ukraine has been deliberately understated.

Recently, new horrifying facts have been brought to light, when mass graves were discovered in the suburbs of Donetsk. In contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2166, a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Malaysian airliner over the territory of the Ukraine has been protracted. The perpetrators of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice; otherwise national reconciliation can hardly be expected to occur in Ukraine.

Russia is sincerely interested in the restoration of peace in this neighboring country, and this should be well understood by anyone passingly acquainted with the history of the deep-rooted and fraternal ties between these two peoples. The path to a political settlement is well known. By last April, Kiev had already accepted the commitment under the Geneva Declaration of Russia, Ukraine, the US, and EU to immediately begin a broad national dialogue with the participation of all regions and political forces in Ukraine, with a view to carrying out constitutional reform. The implementation of this obligation would allow all Ukrainians to agree on how to live in accordance with their traditions and culture, and would enable Ukraine to restore its organic role as a binding link between the various parts of the European space, which naturally implies the preservation and respect by all of its neutral and non-block status. We are convinced that with goodwill and the refusal to support the "war party" in Kiev which is trying to push the Ukrainian people into the abyss of national catastrophe, a way out of the crisis is within our grasp.

The path to overcoming the crisis was laid with the achievement of the ceasefire agreement in Southeastern Ukraine on the basis of initiatives by Presidents Poroshenko and Putin. With the participation of the representatives of Kiev, Donetsk, Lugansk, the OSCE and Russia, practical measures are being agreed upon for the successive implementation of those agreements, including the separation of the parties to the conflict, the removal of heavy weapons of Ukraine and militia forces, and the establishment of monitoring by the OSCE. Russia is prepared to continue actively promoting the political settlement under the correctly recommended Minsk process as well as other formats. However, it should be crystal clear that we are doing this for the sake of peace, tranquility, and the well-being of the Ukrainian people – rather than to indulge someone's ambitions. Attempts to put pressure on Russia and to compel it to abandon its values, truth, and justice have no prospects whatsoever for success.

Allow me to recall some history from not so long ago. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933, the US government demanded of Moscow guarantees of non-interference into the domestic affairs of the United States and a commitment not to take any actions with a view to changing the political or social order in America. At that time, Washington feared a revolutionary virus, and those guarantees were consolidated in relationships between America and the Soviet Union on a mutual basis. Perhaps it makes sense to return to this topic and reproduce the US government's demands of that time of on a universal scale.

Why would the General Assembly not adopt a declaration on the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and the non-recognition of a coup d'état as a method for changing power? The time has come to completely exclude from international interactions attempts by some states to exert illegitimate pressure on others. The senselessness and counter-productivity of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we look at the example of the US blockade of Cuba.

The policy of ultimatums and the philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century, and run counter to the objective process of developing a polycentric and democratic world order. Russia promotes a positive and unifying agenda. We always were, and continue to be, open to discussion of the most complex issues no matter how irresolvable they may seem to be at first. We will be willing to search for compromises and a balance of interests, and even to exchange concessions, but only if the discussion is honest, respectful and equitable. The Minsk agreements of 5 and 19 September, the pathway out of the Ukrainian crisis, and the compromise on the effective date of the association agreement between Kiev and the EU are good examples to follow, and so is the declaration of the willingness of Brussels to begin negotiations on the establishment of a free-trade agreement between the European Union and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan as proposed by President Putin back in January of this year.

Russia has consistently called for the harmonization of integration projects in Europe and Eurasia. An agreement on political benchmarks and timelines of such a "convergence of integrations" would make a real contribution to the work of the OSCE on the topic of Helsinki Plus 40.

Another crucial area of this work would be to launch an ideology-free pragmatic discussion about the political and military architecture of the Euro-Atlantic region, so that not only members of NATO and the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) but all countries of the region including Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, would experience equal and indivisible security, and would not have to make a false choice between "either with us or against us." New dividing lines in Europe must not be allowed, particularly since in the era of globalization those lines can turn into a watershed divide between the West and the rest of the world.

It must be stated honestly that no one has a monopoly on truth and no one is now capable of tailoring global and regional processes to their own needs. There is no alternative today to the development of consensus regarding the rules of sustainable governance under new historic circumstances with full respect of the cultural and civilizational diversity of the world, and a plurality of developmental models. It will be a difficult and perhaps tiresome task to achieve such a consensus on every issue, but the recognition that democracy in every state is "the worst form of government except for all the others" was also a long time in coming until Churchill issued his verdict.

The time has come to realize the inevitability of this fundamental truth in international affairs as well, where today there is a huge deficit of democracy. Of course, some will have to shatter centuries-old stereotypes and abandon claims to eternal uniqueness, but there is no other way forward. Joint efforts can only be built on the principle of mutual respect and by taking each another's interests into account, as is the case for example in the framers of the United Nations Security Council, the G20, BRICS, and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization).

The theory of the value of collective work is affirmed by practice, and this includes progress in the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the successful conclusion of the chemical de-militarization of Syria. Speaking of chemical weapons, we would like to receive authentic information on the state of the chemical arsenals in Libya. We understand that our NATO colleagues, having bombed this country in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions, would not like to stir up the mayhem that they have created. However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical weapons is too serious to ignore.

We think that the UN Secretary General has an obligation to show some responsibility in this issue as well. What is important at this point is to see the global priorities and to avoid holding them hostage to a unilateral agenda. There is an urgent need to refrain from double standards and approaches to conflict settlement. Generally, everyone agrees that the key issue is to resolutely counter terrorists who are attempting to bring increasingly broad territories in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Sahara-Sahel area under their control.

That being the case, this task should not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or the desire to settle personal scores. Terrorists, no matter what slogans they hide behind, should remain outside the law. Moreover, it goes without saying that the fight against terrorism should rest on a solid foundation of international law. An important stage in this matter was the unanimous adoption of a number of UN security resolutions, including those on the issue of foreign terrorist fighters. And conversely,, attempts to contravene the charter of our organization do not contribute to the success of joint efforts.

The struggle against terrorists in the territory of Syria should be organized in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has clearly stated its willingness to join it. Damascus has already shown its capability of cooperating with the international community when it participated in the destruction of its chemical arsenals.

From the very beginning of the "Arab Spring," Russia called for it not to be left to extremists and for the establishment of a united front to counter the growing terrorist threat. We cautioned against the temptation to make allies of almost anyone who proclaimed himself an enemy of Bashar Al Assad, whether it be Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, or other fellow travelers seeking regime change, including ISIL, which today is the focus of our attention.

As the saying goes, better late than never. This is not the first time that Russia has made a very real contribution to the fight against both ISIL and other terrorist factions in the region. We are sending large supplies of weapons and military equipment to the governments of Iraq, Syria, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and we will continue to support their efforts to suppress terrorists.

The terrorist threat requires a comprehensive approach; we want to eradicate its root cause rather than get bogged down in only reacting to the symptoms. ISIL is only part of the problem.

We propose to launch, under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council, an in-depth and broad study on extremist and terrorist threats and aspects of their threat in the Middle East and North African region.

This integrated approach presupposes an analysis of the long-standing conflicts, particularly between the Arabs and Israel. The inability to settle the Palestinian issue for several decades remains and is widely recognized as one of the main factors of instability in the region which is helping the extremists to recruit more and more jihadists.

Another truly urgent area of our joint work is the combining of our efforts to implement decisions of the UN General Assembly and Security Council to combat the Ebola virus. Our doctors are already working in Africa. There are plans to send additional humanitarian aid, equipment, medical instruments, medicines, and teams of experts to assist the UN programs in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The United Nations was established on the ruins of World War II, and is entering the year of its 70th anniversary. We are all called upon to celebrate appropriately the anniversary of the Great Victory, and to render tribute to the memory of all who perished for freedom and the right of each people to determine their own destiny.

The lessons of that terrible war, and the entire course of events in today's world, require us to join efforts and put aside unilateral interests and national election cycles. When it comes to countering global threats to all humanity, national egotism must not be allowed to prevail over collective responsibility.

Thank you.

© Donald Hank


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Donald Hank

Until July of 2009, Don Hank was operating a technical translation agency out of his home in Wrightsville, PA. He is now retired and residing in Panama with his wife and daughter.

A former language teacher, he holds an undergraduate degree in French and German from Millersville State University (PA), a Master's degree in Russian language and literature from Kutztown State College (also in PA), has studied Chinese for 3 years in Taiwan at the Mandarin Training Center, and is self-taught in other languages, having logged a total of 8 years abroad in total immersion situations.

He is also the founder of Lancaster-York Non-Custodial Parents, a volunteer organization that provides Christian counseling for non-custodial parents.


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