Opening Asia for Russia

13.11.2019 97 просмотров

Alexander A. LEBEDEV, General Director of the Big Asia TV channel and the website, is talking to MGIMO Rector Anatoly Vasilyevich TORKUNOV. 

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Alexander LEBEDEV:

75th anniversary of MGIMO is a great topic to start a serious conversation about the university, profession, life… You entered MGIMO in 1967 - the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution! It was an outstanding year! Workers and employees were transferred to a five-day work week with two days off, a line from the Constitution that "citizens of the USSR have the right to rest" became one of the most popular slogans of that time. And you choose the profession of a diplomat, that is, you actually choose a way of life without days off, without rest. Why does a first-class swimmer, the soul of the company, a member of the youth theater studio at the ZIL Culture Palace, choose the profession of a diplomat?


I am pleased that that you have studied my biography well, and my school addictions! For me, by the way, it’s already forgotten that in 1967 they switched to a five-day working week ... Of course, when I entered MGIMO and thought about my future, I didn’t attach any importance to this at all, because when we were at a young age , the days flew by rapidly, and that Saturday, that Sunday, that Wednesday did not differ much from each other. 

Especially in the last grade, when you had to work hard on Saturday and Sunday - to prepare for the exams, which at MGIMO have always been extremely difficult. A competition of 12 people per place, and a competition for medalists, and a competition for production workers. Also the guys who served in the army - and they had the appropriate benefits. So, it didn’t stick in my memory that this particular year was the year of the transition to a five-day work week. Well, in general, of course, there are many surprises in life.

I learned about the existence of MGIMO when I went to Artek as an eighth-grader from school and there I met several guys from Moscow schools who told me about MGIMO and that they are going to go there. The guys were a little older, grades 9-10 - then there were older groups in Artek. And this story seemed interesting to me, after that I began to look closely at the university. There was very little information. There was no Internet, of course, and there was practically no writing about MGIMO in the media. 

Then I found out that there was a rather complicated admission procedure. All sorts of recommendations had to be received: Komsomol recommendations, characteristics, to undergo a rather complicated medical examination at the institute's polyclinic. But this profession captivated me, because I loved history very much, I read a lot about the history of diplomacy.

At that time, wonderful novels dedicated to diplomats, for example, by Savva Dangulov, and historical literature in general, were published. There was a rather serious novel by Valentin Ivanovich Kostylev about Ivan the Terrible, a novel about Ivan the Third, even received the Stalin Prize. There was a lot, in fact, about the diplomacy of Russia, Russia. And this topic attracted me. 

Frankly speaking, I did not think about entering a theater university, because I understood that you still need to have a special talent there in order to become a good actor. After all, if you choose a profession, you want to become big and famous in it. That is why I was thinking about the Faculty of Journalism and History of Moscow State University and MGIMO. 

As Minister Lavrov said more than once, exams at MGIMO started earlier, so we all tried our luck and tried to start this marathon of entrance exams earlier, in July. And I also came to MGIMO. 

I had to prepare for the language, I studied at a simple school, not a language one. So I prepared for the exam separately. Parents, so to speak, strained themselves, even took tutors for me. Then there were 5 exams, I got 23 points for the exams - it was a passing score. And he did. Well, and then MGIMO is like fate. It is so exciting that you already live here in this atmosphere, with these friends, with these people all your life - both student and post-student. Because a very strong contact goes both in the service, and in friendship, and in fun, and in business, as it is sung in our anthem. And, therefore, MGIMO has already become my destiny. I have not spent my entire life at MGIMO, but I dedicated a significant part of my life to MGIMO and I am happy with this circumstance. 


Alexander LEBEDEV:

That's just what I wanted, so that we can talk to you about diplomacy and about some serious things, such as choosing a profession. It’s just that now we sometimes idealize our school, student years, and sometimes, on the contrary, dramatization occurs: “How hard it was! ..” & nbsp; What do you remember most vividly from student life of that time?


You know, despite the fact that the end of the 60 called the beginning of stagnation, my student life was insanely active. Firstly, I had to study a lot, because two foreign languages, complex programs, high requirements - I had to do it all. And they often took over the night to prepare for seminars...

But other than that, it was a wonderful student life.  Giant wall newspapers were published for the holidays, performances were prepared, amateur performances were prepared, and concerts were traveled throughout the Moscow region. It was insanely interesting, because it was an acquaintance with life, an acquaintance with the country, when from year to year many times, I - three times, went to construction teams. Moreover, in the first construction team of the 68th year in Khakassia, we left almost the entire course and spent three months there. I went in the forward detachment, that is, we passed exams ahead of schedule, we set up tents there ourselves, we lived in these tents ourselves. We arrived at an empty place in general - one trailer was just standing. In Khakassia it was very interesting and very hard work. And in the evening - a song, guitars. And labor, and skits that we arranged there. That is, life was filled with meaning and interest, and fun, and companionship, and love, of course, as it should be in young years. And, in general, it was an interesting, fulfilling life. So I, like the vast majority of my friends, comrades, remember my student years as the most interesting, somewhat carefree compared to the subsequent years of my life, with great pleasure! 

I am with the students I meet often and I see that even now those who want to spend this life in an interesting way are succeeding. In general, we have the opportunity to study as many languages as you want.

Alexander LEBEDEV:

Different sources name 53 and 54…< br>


It depends on the year. We have such a center for additional study languages. That is, two mandatory, and then you yourself take the language. There you have to pay extra, but the extra payment is very modest - only the work of the teacher. And one and a half thousand students are learning a third, fourth language. This is quite a lot of people who are willing and ready to acquire new and new knowledge. But in the end, we are not a foreign language, but a university that gives a basic profession, gives knowledge of an economist, lawyer, international affairs specialist, journalist, manager, environmentalist, and the guys do everything. 

We have a volunteer movement. The Russia-Africa Economic Forum has just passed. Dozens of volunteers worked there. At this summit, we received heartfelt gratitude from the organizers, from Roscongress, in particular, which organized all these events. 

So here everyone can find a job of their interest. There are only two theater studios! They put on some serious drama. With subtext. This is very pleasing. Here, for the 75th anniversary, they released a large collection of poems. Students and their girlfriends dedicated them, and friends, and life, and parents. And I was very pleasantly surprised that one beautiful poem was dedicated to the memory of Andrei Andreyevich Gromyko, and the second to the memory of Andrei Karlov. This is my good friend who died tragically in Turkey. And no one encouraged them to do so. They turned to me only when the collection was ready for printing, they had already taken it to the printing house. And they wrote the verses themselves and it is clear that, as they say, these verses are written with the soul. Great!

I think that, of course, they are different from us, those students of the 70s, 80s, 90s, but they are no worse. They are just a little different, but absolutely good guys. Frankly speaking, I feel a sense of optimism, despite all our difficulties and the world ones in general. 
I believe that we are raising a good future generation.

Alexander LEBEDEV:< /b>

Well, you still have a tough selection process. It is impossible to become a student of MGIMO through blasphemy…


Well, some people think that it is possible.

Alexander LEBEDEV:

...but then, when they come, it turns out that it is impossible.

Anatoly TORKUNOV :

Because they still fly out, even if it happened.

Alexander LEBEDEV:

Yes, even if they go for a paid one, then you either have to change the university, or start really seriously, study hard ... 


Yes, it's true. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:

...because you have many professions besides international journalism, which gave our community talented professionals, in general, there are a lot of outstanding people brought up within these walls. There are, as you say, both environmentalists and economists. All of them are graduating from a university where they train diplomats. Therefore, it turns out that diplomacy is the core of any training?


We have even defined several core courses that are mandatory for all. Valentin Falin, one of our first graduates, a diplomat, an ambassador, said this very well, he held many other positions. This, of course, is history, this, of course, is economics and the theory of macro- and microeconomics, this, of course, is law, these are foreign languages and, in a broad sense, philosophy. That is, the five pillars. But, if we talk about the programs that are available in each specialty, these are, of course, international relations, diplomacy, international law and international economic relations - no matter what specialty you are in, these are just mandatory, basic, core courses.  ; 

There is economic diplomacy, environmental diplomacy, there is humanitarian diplomacy, which is done by journalists. One way or another, plots connected with diplomacy are very seriously present everywhere. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:

It is well known that the etymology of the word "diplomat" is from the Greek "doubled written document". Does this mean that diplomacy is a closed profession? Indeed, in a figurative sense, a “diplomat” is someone who knows how to achieve his goal, showing art and subtlety in dealing with people ...

After all, what is for you as a person who he devoted his whole life to diplomacy, communicates with diplomats from different levels, what does the concept of "diplomacy" mean? 


that, of course, over the years, both diplomatic practice and diplomatic receptions have changed. Today we are talking about completely new forms of diplomacy - for example, twitter diplomacy, which the President of the United States loves so much. But, the point is that, of course, there is classical, traditional diplomacy. No matter how much it is criticized today, it will remain, because basic decisions, fundamental decisions - they cannot be made without thorough preparation: neither in bilateral relations, nor in multilateral relations. And this kind of thorough preparation, of course, should be conducted behind closed doors. And the point is not to hide something from people, on the contrary, all this is done for people. 

In general, diplomacy is the art of the possible. That is, it is necessary to look for compromises, agreements. And it is not at all necessary to bring this up immediately to a nationwide discussion, because such discussions can simply harm the process of a detailed search for compromises.

How were all the treaties on disarmament topics and START, and the ABM treaty prepared? Now there are many memories, works on this subject. Now it is already possible, many materials have been opened. I'm even surprised. I was very young then when the basic disarmament agreements with the Americans were being prepared, in particular, during President Nixon's visit to Moscow in 1972. And the translator, our remarkable graduate Andrey Vavilov, published the book "Secrets of Intelligence - Eyewitness View" related to these negotiations.
There are such interesting details, how everything was carefully done. The negotiations went on as part of Nixon - Brezhnev, and sometimes Brezhnev - Kosygin - Nixon, Every day in two sessions. And in the evening there was also an evening dinner, where it all continued. Then, before Brezhnev's visit to America, Kissinger came and lived in Zavidovo at Brezhnev's dacha. They had six to eight hours of negotiations a day. There were the military, and our techies, and scientists who were engaged in these missiles. That is, it is all a thorough, thorough preparation! People are already informed about the conclusion of the contract. They go out on the tracks, sign documents, drink champagne. And before that - work at night, preparing mutually acceptable solutions.

So I'm sure that classical diplomacy will retain its strength. But of course, today it is much more open, if only due to the fact that earlier, as you correctly say, these diplomatic reports were sent by secret mail, they were transported for weeks.
And now you sit down at the computer, open the iPad and all the events see online. Almost like lightning, messages about any incident, about any statement of the leader come. In the 80s there were hearings in Congress, but it was still necessary, as they say, to find a place in the hall. And now we have all this - please, watch on TV, read on your iPad or on a computer tablet. 

And, of course, diplomats now have another task: if they inform, then inform about things publicly available, to inform based on their own analytics, their own considerations, ideas, and in this sense, diplomacy has become seriously more complicated. At the same time, it has been simplified in the sense that there are a lot of open sources that can be used for analytical work. And, of course, one must be ready to react very seriously and quickly to what is happening in the world, since everything that happens instantly becomes known to the whole world.

Alexander LEBEDEV:< /i>

Another problem has emerged - fake news. And if earlier disinformation had to be carried out subtly, now it is quickly becoming the property of large masses and excites everyone, including practical diplomacy. 


That's just the task of a diplomat - "to separate the wheat from the chaff" and give reliable information. There are, of course, cynical definitions of diplomacy. For example, Churchill said that the task of a diplomat is to tell the government what will happen, and when it does not happen, to explain why it did not happen. I still adhere to the classical interpretation that diplomacy is an opportunity to solve problems without a war, without a violent clash. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:< br>
In 1983, you began studying the School of Practical Diplomacy in the USA. Washington was then called the "hot shop" of Soviet diplomacy. The early 1980s was a period of sharp confrontation between two systems: Afghanistan, the American Star Wars program, the declaration of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", the deployment of US nuclear missiles in Europe ... In 1983 I served on a strategic missile submarine and I remember very well how, when entering combat service, the commander read out in a metallic voice the cold lines of the combat order: "take up combat duty to create adequate measures to counter the United States of America ...".

And as diplomacy, which you are talking about, opposed the United States of America at that time? 


Well, there was not only the problem of counteraction , but on the contrary, finding some mutually acceptable solutions, and in general, they still managed to be found. This includes the preparation, a little later, of the famous meeting between Gorbachev and Reagan in Reykjavik in 1986, and subsequent meetings. Historic, in my opinion, decisions were made related to the weakening of international confrontation.
Yes, it was a difficult period. But, I will tell you that now the situation is no less tense. It seems to me that in some ways it is even more tense - diplomats have great difficulties, since aggressive Russophobia has appeared in the United States, it interferes with work. At one time, even the communication of the ambassador with officials was very much limited. Previously, Americans, especially in academic circles, were willing to make contact. And then everything changed. Now, it seems, this has been overcome, but, nevertheless, there was such a stage. Therefore, the task, of course, was, first of all, to adequately inform the center about what is happening in the basic areas of American policy. Including in the Asia-Pacific, which I studied. Of course, it is the business of the ambassador, first of all, to give appropriate recommendations. As you know, Anatoly Fedorovich Dobrynin was an outstanding diplomat and politician, and in general played a huge role not only in Russian-American relations, but also in the history of our diplomacy and in its successes (since 1988 he was an adviser to the head of state M.S. Gorbachev on international questions - approx. "Greater Asia"). It is no coincidence that this year we are celebrating his centenary of his birth so widely. Two films will be released about Anatoly Dobrynin, his book "Purely Confidential" was republished. He formulated many ideas and interesting proposals. Well, you remember, at the same time there was a period of constant change of leaders of the country in connection with their departure.  

Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko ... Therefore, it was not very clear how to build long-term relationships, but it was important to maintain some then the level of stability, to comply with the agreements that have already been reached regarding disarmament and ensuring international security. It seems to me that the embassy in Washington and, above all, of course, Ambassador Anatoly Fedorovich Dobrynin played a serious role here. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:

Nevertheless, there were some very interesting stories related to Asia as well… While working in the USA, if I am not mistaken, you were responsible for the analysis of the US Asian policy. I have no doubt that you are following this topic closely. And what has changed in 35 years in the American-Asian diplomatic vector?


Well, he is quite consistent. It's just that today it's clear that a lot is changing - and above all with the rise of China. Today it is the second world power in terms of economic potential. And, of course, the Americans today in their foreign policy, not only in Asia, but in any direction, take into account the Chinese factor. Asia was then given a lot of attention. The Americans had two military bases there - an air force base in the Philippines, and the largest naval base in Southeast Asia. Therefore, these were very sensitive topics for them. And I must say that we had a chance to prepare a lot of documents, which one way or another were then sent to the center. 

The Philippine direction was one of the most serious in the work of that time. One of the central themes was China. Well, the Indochinese theme is also very important for the Americans because of their participation in the Vietnam War.

In a word, the Americans have always had a great interest in this region. But, today, of course, they are being restructured, and they even try to call this region differently - not the Asia-Pacific, but the Indo-Pacific region. The word "Asia" generally disappears from the definition. Although, some countries in the region do not have direct access to the ocean.

The idea is to oppose, among other things, the Chinese idea of "One Belt - One Road" through the concept of the Pacific region. I have attended several conferences where this concept has been discussed. There are its supporters, but there are a lot of opponents. 

And our position, the Russian one, is that there is an established concept of the Asia-Pacific region, where many mechanisms of cooperation and security have been created, where the key role Of course, China, and ASEAN, and the East Asia Summit, and APEC, and many other instruments are playing. 

in the region. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:

With your broadest political outlook, the Korean theme still dominates. You have been an honorary citizen of Seoul since 2013, and in 2000 you were awarded the Order of Diplomatic Merit of the Republic of Korea. The USSR did not recognize South Korea until 1990. 

Today, the Republic of Korea is one of Russia's priority partners in the Asia-Pacific region, since January 1, 2014, a visa-free regime for citizens has been introduced our countries. I know that the leadership of the Republic of Korea sets serious tasks for its diplomats to expand and deepen integration, including in the field of investment. And what are the long-term tasks facing our diplomacy in Seoul? How do we participate in settling the problems of the Korean Peninsula? How, in your opinion, will this region, which is very important for us, develop? Although, I remember, in one of your interviews you said that there were always a lot of forecasts for Korea and all of them did not come true, but nevertheless, in your opinion, what will be the situation there?

< b>Anatoly TORKUNOV:

I can say that there is, of course, a trend that is connected in one way or another with the well-known easing of tense relations between the North and the South. This is a very obvious factor. Although, of course, everything is not moving smoothly there either, quite nervously, but at the same time, if we talk about the frequency of contacts between representatives of the two countries, then the corresponding channels already exist.

In my opinion, this is very cool. Frankly speaking, I do not believe in a quick unification - I think that this is a rather long historical period of time. But in general, statehood in the South and in the North has taken place - despite all the economic difficulties that exist in the DPRK, these are two “firmly standing” states. which is extremely important. I myself was last in North Korea on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Comrade Kim Il Sung seven years ago. But just the other day, my friend who was there told me that positive changes are very noticeable. Somewhere, the anti-American slogans that have always been in the most prominent places have disappeared altogether - such visual propaganda in North Korea. That is, the meetings between the leaders of the United States and North Korea yielded some results. Another thing is that they often happened in one fell swoop, without prior preparation, as we understand. North Korean specialists tend to remain silent on this subject, since it is not customary in North Korea to speak out publicly. Apparently, this is what made it possible to reach deeper agreements on the so-called "North Korean nuclear issue." 

The process is underway, it cannot be overlooked, and this, frankly speaking, is a positive thing. It is very important for us that the situation develops in a peaceful manner, because the Korean Peninsula is oversaturated with the most modern types of weapons, a million-strong army, and we have a border with the DPRK. Although small, it is there. North Korea, as you know, has nuclear weapons, so the processes of denuclearization of the peninsula are very important, but they cannot go by themselves. Guarantees of the security of the DPRK and the formation of trusting relations between the North and the South are necessary. It is clear that after decades of enmity it is very difficult to seek understanding, but there are already positive results. 

Well, then, when we talk about Korea, we still need to keep in mind that despite Koreans feel like a single nation, because they have a single past, a single history, and until the 50s of the last century, they developed as a single state over many centuries. 

Alexander LEBEDEV:

The appearance of a unified Korean team at the Olympic Games caused a storm of emotions in the world. We had a big conversation with the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in Russia, who spoke about the tasks assigned to the Ministry for the unification of Korea. Everyone is talking about how to unite. I would like to ask a question about integration processes, because today the topic of Eurasian integration is perhaps one of the most “fashionable” topics at countless conferences and round tables. Hundreds of public organizations within the framework of "people's diplomacy" are trying to build communications, at the highest interstate level, key issues on the agenda in Asia and Europe are being discussed, but most politicians and economists are concerned that the realities of the time are more likely to indicate disintegration. These are military conflicts, and trade wars, and territorial disputes. How do you see the theme of Eurasianism? What is more in it - economics, politics, culture? Which of the global themes of Eurasian integration, in your opinion, will dominate? 


Well, regional isolation and micro-isolation are all the same will be. Eurasian integration is when very special relations are built on the basis of the interests of close groups of countries. Here, the religious factor, and ethnic, and many others, including the connection of elites, play a serious role.

Naturally, this will happen, but still the main trend of development is greater Eurasian integration. And I am sure that before our very eyes there will be very serious turns associated with the emergence of such a powerful association as Eurasia. Including from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Yes, not only from North to South, from South to North, but also horizontally. 

Our EAEU is developing. There are many problems there, we are well aware of this, and, by the way, our leaders speak openly about this. And even, as they say, within the framework of the new openness of diplomacy, we see it on TV, that such a contradiction is not hidden from people, as they say, ordinary people who are not at all involved in any political decisions on this matter. But nevertheless, the process is underway!  

And, of course, I am sure that the huge project that the Chinese are implementing, "One Belt - One Road", today already plays a very significant role in the economic development of countries. South Asia, Southeast Asia - these are logistics chains, these are also production chains. All this will continue. This process simply cannot be sustained because it is a global trend. 


Alexander LEBEDEV:

Bolshaya TV Channel Asia” is the only TV channel in Russia, which two years ago entered the Association of TV Companies of the “Silk Road” countries. Today it is already 19 states, 32 companies. In January, we start producing programs about the tourist and investment attractiveness of Moscow and St. Petersburg for an audience of one and a half billion people.
Concluding our conversation, I cannot but ask you about the anniversary of MGIMO. You took over the leadership of the university at the most difficult time. Since 1992, you have been able to radically change the entire process of training Russian diplomats. I took part in the XII Convention of the Russian Association for International Studies and I will say that the richness of the topics discussed within the framework of the Convention is simply amazing. Really! 

The most topical issues of the world agenda are discussed within these walls. Speakers are the most authoritative opinion leaders. I know that you do not stop there! The university is developing rapidly. What are the prospects for the university? What are your plans for the future?


“Our past is wonderful, the present is brilliant, the future is even more excellent!”  I am not quoting verbatim the words of a famous figure of the Pushkin era, but it seems, anyway. I will tell you that 75 years is nothing historically. This is a completely young university that is developing and changing before our eyes. 

Although if we mean the merger with one of the oldest Russian universities - the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, the successor to the Lazarev School, established in 1815, then MGIMO is no longer 75, but 204 years old. The Institute of Oriental Studies became part of MGIMO already in the 1950s...

But nevertheless, you are right, of course, that we are 75 years old. From such a rather modest university in terms of the number of students, aimed primarily at training specialists for the diplomatic service, MGIMO today has grown into a large university. Compared to Moscow State University or the Higher School of Economics, it is not very large, but in general, it is large.

Nine thousand students already today. There is a branch in Tashkent, which has already started working. But officially we, I hope, will open it in December, we will already solemnly open it. Although, the guys are already learning. We will not only expand our number of students there, but we will open more and more new programs, projects, specializations.

Of course, we will use our advantages, and we have many of them. We have already mentioned that we only have fifty-two foreign languages! Today there is a great need for rare languages - we can train specialists in the Vietnamese language, Thai language. We can unite not only those specialists who study with us, but also those who graduated from MGIMO, specialists who are already working with these countries. First of all - in business. We will offer our services in this sector as well. Now we are working on a development strategy for the next five years, and we plan to approve this strategy at the beginning of next year at the Supervisory Board. A lot of all sorts of innovations will be in this strategy. And the digitalization of education…

But I categorically disagree with those who say that online education will replace the traditional one. The main thing that a young person coming to a university at the age of 17 need

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