|Intro||Russian politician and Foreign Minister|
|Birth||21 March 1950, Moscow|
Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov (Russian: Серге́й Ви́кторович Лавро́в, pronounced [sʲɪrˈgʲej ˈvʲiktərəvʲɪtɕ lɐvˈrof]; born 21 March 1950) is a Russian diplomat, and is currently the Foreign Minister of Russia, in office since 2004.
From 1994 to 2004, Lavrov was a Russian diplomat, and the Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations. Lavrov speaks Russian, English, French, Sinhala, and Dhivehi.
Early life and education
Lavrov was born on 21 March 1950 in Moscow, to an Armenian father and a Russian mother from Georgia. His mother worked in the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Trade. Lavrov graduated from high school with a silver medal. Since his favorite class was physics, he planned to enter either the National Research Nuclear University or the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, but he entered the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and graduated in 1972.
During his education at the MGIMO, Lavrov studied international relations. Soon he learned Sinhalese, then the only official language of Sri Lanka, as well as Dhivehi, the official language of the Maldives. Moreover, Lavrov learned English and French, but has stated that he is unable to speak the French language fluently. After he was admitted to the university, Lavrov, along with other students, was sent for a month to build the Ostankino Tower.
During his summer vacations, Lavrov also worked in Khakassia, Tuva and the Russian Far East. Each semester Lavrov with his fellow students conducted drama performances, which were later presented on the main stage of the university. During the third year of his studies, Lavrov married.
Diplomatic career in Sri Lanka
Lavrov graduated in 1972. As per the rules of that time, a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations had to work for the Foreign Ministry for a certain amount of time. Lavrov was employed in the Soviet embassy in Sri Lanka as an advisor, as he was already a specialist on the country. At the time, the Soviet Union and Sri Lanka had close market and economic cooperation and the Soviet Union launched the production of natural rubber in the country. The Soviet embassy in Sri Lanka also maintained relations with the Maldives. The embassy in Sri Lanka employed only 24 diplomats. Lavrov was given the task of continuously analysing the situation in the country, but he also worked as a translator, personal secretary and assistant for Rafiq Nishonov. In addition, he gained the diplomatic rank of an attaché.
Section of the International Economic Relations and the U.N.
In 1976 Lavrov returned to Moscow. He worked as a third and second secretary in the Section for the International Economic Relations of the USSR. There he was involved in analytics and his office also worked with various international organizations including the United Nations. In 1981, he was sent as a senior adviser to the Soviet mission at the United Nations in New York City. In 1988 Lavrov returned to Moscow and was named Deputy Chief of the Section of the International Economic Relations of the USSR. Between 1990 and 1992 he worked as Director of the International Organization of the Soviet Foreign Ministry.
In October 1990, Andrey Kozyrev, who led the control of the international organizations at the time, was named Foreign Minister of the Russian SFSR. In that year, the powers of the Soviet Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic were distributed. Until then the Russian SFSR had only a ceremonial role. In October 1991, the foreign ministers of all Soviet republics, except Georgia and the Baltic states, held a meeting where they dealt with the Union of Foreign Ministries. In November 1990, the State Council decided to change its name from the Union of Foreign Ministries to the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union and in December that year, the Foreign Ministry of Soviet Russia became the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. In 1992 Lavrov was named director of the Department for International Organizations and Global Issues in the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. In April 1991, he was named deputy foreign minister. Lavrov was asked to oversee the activities of the Human Rights and International Cultural Cooperation and the two departments – for the CIS countries, international organizations and international economic cooperation. Lavrov worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1994 when he returned to work in the United Nations, this time as the Permanent Representative of Russia. While in the latter position, he was the President of the United Nations Security Council in December 1995, June 1997, July 1998, October 1999, December 2000, April 2002, and June 2003.
On 9 March 2004, President Vladimir Putin appointed Lavrov to the post of minister of foreign affairs. He succeeded Igor Ivanov in the post. On 21 May 2012, Lavrov was reappointed foreign minister to the cabinet led by prime minister Dimitri Medvedev.
Lavrov is regarded as continuing in the style of his predecessor: a brilliant diplomat but a civil servant rather than a politician. A Russian foreign policy expert at London's Chatham House, has described him as "a tough, reliable, extremely sophisticated negotiator", but adds that "he's not part of Putin's inner sanctum" and that the toughening of Russian foreign policy has got very little to do with him.
2012 support of Bashar al-Assad
In 2012, a Russian delegation travelled to Syria to affirm Russia's backing of the Syrian government. Lavrov and Mikhail Fradkov, who were part of the delegation, were given a royal welcome by thousands of pro-Assad supporters. The supporters waved Russian flags in thanks to Russia's veto of a UN resolution calling for tough sanctions on the Syrian government.
2014 crisis in Ukraine
After the March 2014 referendum of Crimea to Russia which, and after the United Nations General Assembly vote had declared the results, on 29 March Lavrov was interviewed over the crisis in Ukraine. Here he proposed that Ukraine: be independent of any bloc, the Russian language be recognised officially; and that the constitution be organised along federal lines, amongst other things. Lavrov noticed William Hague's newspaper article which described the initial sanctions regime in response to Russia's "outrageous land grab", "bullying" and which left them "face(ing) global isolation". Lavrov reminded readers that the zero-sum "either-or" bloc-politics of Ukraine were first suggested in 2004 by Karel De Gucht, then Foreign Minister of Belgium.
While visiting Kiev, Ukraine on March 22, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that he supports expelling Russia from the G8 and expects to discuss the potential expulsion with other G7 leaders at an upcoming meeting in The Hague. On March 24, G8 leaders met formally in The Hague, without Russia being present, and voted to officially suspend Russia's membership in the G8. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated earlier that day that the G8 was an informal organization and membership was optional for Russia. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, as host of the then-next G20 meeting, proposed on 19 March 2014 to ban Russia over its role in the 2014 Crimean crisis. She was reminded on 24 March by a communique of the BRICS foreign ministers, of whom Lavrov is one, that "The Ministers noted with concern, the recent media statement on the forthcoming G20 Summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014. The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all Member States equally and no one Member State can unilaterally determine its nature and character."
Lavrov was interviewed again on 30 March. He described the meeting at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague earlier that week. His NSS position was consistent with the one in his 29 March interview, in which he spoke of the February 21 agreement with he signed along with Viktor Yanukovich, Vitaly Klitchko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleg Tyagnibok as well as the Foreign Ministers of Poland, France and Germany to promote peaceful changes in Ukrainian power. Lavrov stressed federalism as a solution to the constitutional impasse in the Ukraine, and deplored the disofficialisation of the Russian language. He noticed the work of the secretariat of the Council of Europe at the Venice Commission to prevent a legitimation of the Crimean referendum, and to expel Russia. Lavrov was taken aback by what the U.S. President Barack Obama said about Russia being a regional power and about the costs they will have to pay. He claimed that hard-ball tactics were used by the U.S. at the U.N. to declare invalid the Crimean referendum. Lavrov deplored the misuse of the Schengen Agreement to force Crimeans to visit Kiev in order to gain a Schengen visa, and noticed that the E.U. proposes a visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. The Russians surveilled the contacts of E.U. ambassadors with the Svoboda party and claimed that the Ukrainians appeared to be in violation of the ICAO agreement on respite of pilots. Lavrov was quoted as saying "I’m not so much surprised by the pettiness of those who have seized power in Ukraine. But the pettiness of their Western sponsors is amazing." Lavrov reiterated the three-part Russian proposal for the progress of Ukraine:
- Constitutional federalism;
- Recognition of linguistic minorities;
- That Ukraine be a non-aligned state.
His subordinate in London, Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko, had on 28 March authored a piece in the Daily Telegraph which largely repeats the Russian three-point plan. Yakovenko remarked that the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany each have federalized systems, and suggests that Russian along with Ukrainian should be given an official language status while other languages will be granted a status in accordance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
The Kiev government on 30 March denounced Lavrov's proposals as amounting to “the complete capitulation of Ukraine, its dismemberment, and the destruction of Ukrainian statehood. (Lavrov)’s proposals for federalisation, a second official language, and referendums are viewed in Ukraine as nothing less than proof of Russia’s aggression. We sincerely regret that Minister S. Lavrov had to voice them,” said Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia in a statement. This position was repeated forcefully on 10 April in London's Daily Telegraph by Ambassador Volodymyr Khandogiy. Khandogiy asserted that "Ukraine always was – and, I’m convinced, will be – a unitary state. Kiev has unambiguously urged Moscow to avoid meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Instead, the Russians offer an idea of federalisation aimed at destroying Ukraine," and concludes with an unfortunate Biblical reference to Matthew 7.
In a significant breakthrough toward the peaceful resolution of this conflict, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine, Arseniy Yatseniuk, on 11 April offered concessions to rebels in the city of Donetsk, thus addressing point #1 of the Lavrov proposal (see above) as follows. He told regional leaders and businessmen there that parliament should consider a “law on referendums … to allow regions to decide issues of key importance to them. Executive committees of each region will be handed all financial, economic, administrative and other powers so (that) they control their own territories, giving them the ability to develop these territories to attract investment and receive additional income for each region by amending the budget law of Ukraine. The central government is ready not only for dialogue with the regions, but to meet legal demands and wishes of every resident of the country.”
Lavrov denied accusations that Russia is arming the pro-Russian separatists, "There are reasons to believe that they hear us on other aspects of Russian position regarding the crisis in Ukraine, but that doesn't mean that they immediately move to heed our calls." Lavrov said the separatists want to "defend their culture, their traditions, celebrate their holidays rather than anniversaries of Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera."
He is a keen sportsman despite being a smoker. Lavrov likes to watch football games on television, is an ardent fan of the Moscow club Spartak, and a keen amateur footballer in his own right. He has one daughter, Ekaterina, a graduate of Columbia University, who stayed in New York City until 2014, when she was asked to come back to live in Moscow.
Honors and awards
- He is an honorary member of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.
- Order of Sergius of Radonezh 1st Class (Russia, 2015) – For his political efforts that have benefited the Russian Orthodox Church
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 1st class (2015), 2nd class (2010), 3rd class (2005) and 4th class (1998)
- Order of Honour (1996)
- Honoured Worker of the Diplomatic Service of the Russian Federation (2004)
- Order of the Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, 1st class (Russian Orthodox Church, 2010) and 2nd class
- Order of Friendship (Kazakhstan, 2005)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun (Peru, 2007)
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus, 2006)
- Order of Friendship (Vietnam, 2009)
- Order of Friendship (Laos)
- Medal of Honour (South Ossetia, 19 March 2010) – for his great personal contribution to strengthening international security, peace and stability in the Caucasus, the development of friendly relations between the Republic of South Ossetia and the Russian Federation
- Order of St. Mashtots (Armenia, 19 August 2010) – for outstanding contribution to the consolidation and development of age-old Armenian-Russian friendly relations
- Gold Medal of the Yerevan State University (Armenia, 2007)
- Honorary medal "For participation in the programs of the United Nations" (UN Association of Russia, 2005)
- Honorary Doctorate in Diplomacy from University of Piraeus. (Greece 2016)
- Order of the Serbian Flag, 1st class (Serbia, 2016)