Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly – December 12, 2013
Global development is becoming increasingly contradictory and dynamic. Russia’s historical responsibility is growing in these conditions, not only because it is one of the key guarantors of global and regional stability, but also a nation that consistently asserts its value-based approaches, including in international relations.
The intensity of military, political, economic, and informational competition throughout the world is not decreasing, but only getting stronger. Other power centres are closely monitoring Russia’s progress as it grows stronger.
We have always been proud of our nation. But we do not claim to be any sort of superpower with a claim to global or regional hegemony; we do not encroach on anyone’s interests, impose our patronage onto anyone, or try to teach others how to live their lives. But we will strive to be leaders, defending international law, striving for respect and national sovereignty and peoples’ independence and identity. This is absolutely objective and understandable for a state like Russia, with its great history and culture, with many centuries of experience, not so-called tolerance, neutered and barren, but the actual common, natural life of different peoples within the framework of a single state.
Today, many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognise everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning. This destruction of traditional values from above not only leads to negative consequences for society, but is also essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority, which does not accept the changes occurring or the proposed revision of values.
We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation in every nation for thousands of years: the values of traditional families, real human life, including religious life, not just material existence but also spirituality, the values of humanism and global diversity.
Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.
In recent years, we have seen how attempts to push supposedly more progressive development models onto other nations actually resulted in regression, barbarity and extensive bloodshed. This happened in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. This dramatic situation unfolded in Syria.
As far as Syria is concerned, the international community had to jointly make a momentous choice: to either descend into further erosion of the world order’s foundations, or collectively make responsible decisions.
I feel it was our common success when the choice was made on the basis of the fundamental principles of international law, common sense and the logic of peace. So far, at least, we have been able to avoid external military intervention in Syria’s affairs and the spread of the conflict far beyond the region.
Russia made significant contributions to this process. We acted firmly, thoughtfully and carefully. We never jeopardised our own interests and security, nor global stability. In my view, that is how a mature and responsible nation must act. […]