Diplomatic Worker Day. The Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy today

12:14 10.02.2022 •

Diplomatic Worker Day is an excellent opportunity to congratulate our colleagues on the occasion of this professional day and to wish them success in their work for the benefit of Russia's interests. Everyone who celebrates this professional day can also use it as an opportunity to evaluate and analyse the performance of their department and outline plans for the future and the paths forward.

The Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy is rightfully proud of its extensive history which is closely related to Russian diplomacy. We recently marked its 85th anniversary. Over the years, the academy has educated over a thousand ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary and a large number of envoys, consuls general and diplomats of various levels. This is one of the academy’s central missions, which we carry out at the Department of Advanced Studies, in particular, with biannual one-month Higher Diplomatic courses, where newly appointed ambassadors update their expertise on a wide range of issues. Heads of ministries, departments, state corporations, mass media, and major private businesses speak before them.

The academy has broad international relations with representatives from over 30 countries that study here. It interacts with education institutions in other Russian cities and with our foreign partners. After graduating from the academy, many of our graduates get professionally tested and then hired by the Foreign Ministry or other state institutions that engage in international activities.

The academy’s professional experience and traditions, as well as an extensive network of business contacts around the world with our graduates, are important competitive advantages for our university. In Russia and many countries, they hold key positions in the top echelons of power, large companies and corporations, as well as a variety of other agencies. In our country, our graduates serve as Federation Council leaders, State Duma deputies, heads of ministries and departments, and large companies. Our graduates also include internationally renowned athletes like Olympic synchronised swimming champion Olga Brusnikina, tennis player Vera Zvonaryova, and Olympic high jump champions Yelena Slesarenko and Andrey Silnov.

We see our mission in making sure that our graduates are sought after by the diplomatic service, government bodies and businesses from a variety of industries not only in Russia but in partner countries as well. Continual updating of the academy’s curricula and research plans stemming from new trends in international politics and economics are a prerequisite. We introduce the latest innovative teaching technology in the education process, which can be used remotely as well. Lifelong learning is a popular trend, and our graduates return to us to take refresher courses, learn new foreign languages and acquire additional professional competencies. These activities are supported by a fairly small (about 200 people) highly qualified team of academy teachers, including many diplomats with academic degrees and titles who share with young people not only theoretical knowledge, but their extensive practical experience as well.

The introduction of digital technologies and innovations in all spheres of education and research dictate the need to update traditional textbooks and study aids. We consider it important to interact with other Russian and foreign universities in order to exchange experience and best practices for training students, graduate students, conducting advanced training and organising scientific research. So, for example, our approaches and methods of teaching foreign languages ​​(there are 19 of them at the academy) in training future international experts are rightfully recognised as one of the best in our country. Impeccable command of foreign languages, communication competence and speech etiquette are indispensable for a professional diplomat. We are using state-of-the-art technology, including digital and multimedia, in language training for our students and are willing to share our experience and best practices with our colleagues from other universities and our foreign partners.

Digital transformation is important for all universities. Our professors master digital skills and widely use them in the training process. The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on meetings have not prevented us from continuing our work under these new circumstances and fully utilising the possibilities of online interaction.

Modern diplomacy is developing as dynamically as is the world in which we live. New formats, such as e-diplomacy, are emerging and gaining currency. We see our mission in analysing new trends, identifying important matters in overwhelming flows of information and including them in the curricula or making them the subjects of research papers and publications.

To do this, it is important to help students and teachers and our researchers and diplomats navigate the intense information flow. As part of the Diplomatic Dictionary project, we have created an unparalleled electronic information resource. We constantly update its comprehensive and systematised database of terms and definitions which concern not only international relations, but legal, political, economic and other spheres as well.

Preparing analytical materials for Russian politicians and making it possible for them to make informed and well-founded decisions is one of the key areas of the academy's work. The Institute of Contemporary International Studies, which is part of the Diplomatic Academy, makes it possible to prepare these documents promptly and at a high quality level. We engage young talented experts from regional universities and research institutions to the institute’s activities.

For the purposes of training international analysts and young scientific elite in the field of international relations and international security, which form a potential workforce resource of the Russian diplomatic service, a laboratory was set up at the institute as an educational and research project operated by the Institute of Contemporary International Studies at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy.

Analysis of the problems and challenges that modern society faces in politics and the economy is among the most important competences for future diplomats. It is important to have erudition and knowledge not only in one's own narrow professional field, such as bilateral relations with just one country. A modern diplomat, regardless of their narrow professional field, must have knowledge in the digital economy and the sustainable development agenda, and be knowledgeable about the critically important issues of energy and transport. They must be educated in various spheres of culture. They must have a general idea of the alignment of forces and changes in the political and economic situation in the most important regions in the world, that is, the centres of power. It is important to always have an interest in expert analysis and forecast data provided by international organisations and reputable think tanks, to understand statistics and to be able to work with data, as well as analyse large pieces of information.

All these issues can, with a high degree of probability, be raised in the course of your future work, talks with our foreign partners, or when discussing and working on international documents. There are situations when a well-founded, well balanced and competent decision must be made quickly, which requires an international specialist to have professional knowledge in many areas. And, of course, knowledge of effective negotiating practices, contractual procedures, understanding of intercultural communications, along with knowledge of the subtleties of protocol and etiquette, will allow our course participants to feel confident in any situation related to their future professional activities.

I will cite a number of examples. Climate change is of general concern around the world, and the international climate agenda is playing an increasingly important role in international relations. We are studying this area of ​​diplomacy and planning to have it feature prominently in our curricula and research plans.

Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals is constantly at the centre of our attention as well.

We took part in holding the National Dialogue in the Russian Federation in preparation for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. The dialogue played an important role, since it made it possible to articulate Russia’s position on the core issues of the food systems development to be discussed during that forum, to make Russia’s contribution to the development of the summit roadmap, which contributed to the eradication of hunger, the creation of more inclusive and sustainable food systems, as well as protection of our planet’s natural resources. We see this work as the academy’s practical contribution to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The academy’s scientific potential makes it possible to provide expert foreign policy support for Russia’s initiatives in the green economy in the international arena. To this end, at the initiative of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, a competence centre was created, the Sustainable Development and Green Economy School.

The interaction of research and business to resolve the problems of transition to a sustainable model of economic development is one of the academy’s priorities. For example, in November 2021, we signed an agreement with PhosAgro on cooperation in research with a focus on sustainable development and green economy. Like many other large Russian companies, PhosAgro is interested in the high quality expertise provided by an authoritative centre conducting research in international relations, such as the academy, for implementing multilateral sustainable development and green transition projects. Our plan includes joint implementation of the projects aimed at strengthening food security in cooperation with the UN World Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

We attach great importance to cultural diplomacy, the soft power and cultural diplomacy policy, and the expansion of Russia's cultural influence, including as part of ongoing work with our compatriots abroad. This policy should be used much more widely to reduce geopolitical tensions in international relations and improve Russia's image abroad. We are cooperating in this regard with Rossotrudnichestvo and discussing this subject with the expert community.

We plan to develop the potential of the Association of the Diplomatic Academy Graduates, and to maintain communication with them and to develop cooperation. They live and work in Russia and many other countries around the world, occupy responsible government posts, work in business, and engage in journalism and scientific research. The professional experience of these people in many areas is of great value to academy students and our colleagues taking advanced training courses. Accordingly, we invite our graduates to give lectures and publish their research papers in the academy’s periodical publications. In this regard, I would like to mention our extensive publishing activity. The academy publishes about 40 publications every year, including monographs, textbooks and study aids, as well as research papers. Many of them are authored by our graduates.

In closing, I want to note that the academy is open to new ideas and proposals for cooperation, which will improve the efficiency of the training process and the relevance of scientific research, and help our course participants, students and researchers keep abreast of the developments in global politics and the economy.