Sergei Lavrov
Moscow, Russia

One of the most dangerous provocations of international terrorism is the attempt to cover it with “religious banners”. Terrorism has no religious or ethnic nature. Its practice and ideology, based on defying fundamental human values, human life being the first among them, are equally alien to all world confessions, nations, and cultures. Terrorism feeds on political, social and economic problems, which have grown more acute – particularly regarding the preservation of the cultural and civilisation diversity of the modern world – as the result of globalisation and corresponding imbalances in world development.

This understanding underlies Russia’s consistent course towards combating terrorism and its ideology by way of uniting the efforts of states and state institutions with the possibilities of civil society, including religious institutions and organisations.

In this connection, let me remind you that Russia is a unique example of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among more than 160 nationalities. There are 23 thousand religious organisations in our country, representing nearly 50 confessions. Respect to other people’s faith, lifestyle, customs and traditions have created conditions for civilian peace and helped ensure stability. Along with other traditional confessions in Russia, Islam has been making its contribution into efforts towards preventing extremism and intolerance and maintaining an atmosphere of tolerance.

Today, furthering the mutually respectful and constructive communication among different confessions is one of the unconditional priorities of Russia’s policy. The inter-religious dialogue is going on very actively within the country, including the Inter-Religion Council of Russia, which unites leaders of the main traditional confessions. We support all international initiatives aimed at promoting inter-religious concord. The Strategic Vision Group “Russia – Islamic World” and the World Social Forum “Dialogue of Civilisations” have been created upon our initiative, and we keep promoting the idea of establishing the Consultative Council of Religions under the auspices of the UN.

We firmly and decisively condemn terrorism in all its forms. Like many countries, Russia has suffered from terrorism. However, in fighting it, Russia has gained a successful experience of complex anti-terrorism efforts that combine military and law enforcement measures with informational, educational, and socio-economic work. Our tangible achievement is the significant reduction of the terrorist threat in Russia, including the North Caucasus, in which international terrorism had been pumping significant funds and efforts.

Russia is among the leading members of global anti-terrorism cooperation that mostly goes in the format of the UN, which has the central coordinating role in this area, and in regional structures. We have also created an efficient bilateral mechanism of anti-terrorism cooperation with more than 30 states, including Islamic ones. These mechanisms are intended for solving practical tasks in the sphere of anti-terrorism.

We also advocate the active improvement of international anti-terrorism instruments. So far, 13 international anti-terrorism conventions have been signed under the auspice of the UN, but those efforts must be continued. Our obvious reserve is the strengthening of the international contractual basis to combat the use of latest technologies, including the Internet, for terrorist purposes. Russia, among others, has stepped forward with relevant initiatives in this area.

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The content above has been delivered by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, in response to a question asked by Aftab Hussain, Islamabad, Pakistan. The question was: What is Russia’s official policy about terrorism? Does Russia also see terrorism as an Islamic phenomenon, as it is being perceived by the West?