Viacheslav Volodin: international community is becoming a hostage to the US foreign policy

The whole text of the speech of the Chairman of the State Duma at the plenary session of the 140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Doha
Chairman of the State Duma Viacheslav Volodin
Chairman of the State Duma Viacheslav Volodin

“The Inter-Parliamentary Union is the oldest inter-parliamentary organization, much respected one. In general, when we talk about inter-parliamentary structures, there are two criteria that characterize such organizations. Firstly, the possibility to speak on any issue, and, in principle, this is the basis of parliamentarism. To achieve this aim parliaments have been created, to speak on behalf of their voters, peoples, citizens of their countries, raise questions, participate in their discussions and do everything to solve problems. In this regard, I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in front of you.

At the same time it would be right to emphasize that the effectiveness of parliamentary structures depends on how much they uphold the values of democracy, the international norms, and rules that countries have created for decades. And in this regard, I hope that today's conference will be constructive, and we will be able to discuss a lot of issues, really express our opinion on issues that worry us all, and give them an assessment, because probably otherwise there is no point to gather.

In this regard, the topic chosen for today's IPU meeting raises the important question of the key role of education in achieving the goals of the international community, such as peace, security and the rule of law.

Education forms a world view, provides an opportunity to learn about the cultural diversity, history, and traditions of the peoples of the world. It helps to understand the importance of adherence to international law and the principles of peaceful coexistence: non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, equal dialogue, and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The world view of a truly educated person should be based on respect for other cultures and religions, the disapproval of exclusivity, extremist and terrorist ideologies. This is even more important when a person has power.

Today, one of the main challenges of modern society is the substitution of international law by individual decisions. I would like to speak about this here, within the framework of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We started our work with a speech of an American scientist but I think you will agree with me that if the speech had been delivered by our colleagues from the US Congress this would have been a more profound conversation, as a lot of issues that we will discuss here will relate to this country. And therefore, I would like the Inter-Parliamentary Union to take this into account in its agenda. This approach will allow it to gain respect, will allow being an interesting interactive platform, and we all will be eager to come and take part in its meetings. Because, dear colleagues, when we are practically all united in the issues that were previously considered and adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, we need to do everything for these decisions to be implemented. But today we witness ignoring the interests of other countries and nations, as well as implementing only the “right of the strong”, and this is a direct pathway to conflicts and wars, and we cannot stand aside, it would be correct to discuss these issues among us. What happened not so long time ago – with one stroke of the pen, bypassing the UN and its decisions, the US President recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The already fragile peace in the Middle East is in danger of destruction. 

The international community is becoming a hostage to such a policy. And we know from history where this can lead to. Twenty years have passed since the NATO bombing of Belgrade. Since then we have witnessed the war in Iraq, the destruction of the statehood of Libya, attempts to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government with the help of terrorists. Who is next? Venezuela?

The US did everything to undermine the Venezuelan economy: 30 billion dollars that are on the blocked accounts were in fact stolen, and this money belongs to the people of Venezuela, trade sanctions were imposed, cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure were organized. Speaking about trade sanctions, we could say that they were imposed on China, Iran, and Cuba. Sanctions were also imposed against my country, Russia.

We know that the country that received the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and we are grateful how hospitable and organized it was done, is also subject to unfriendly actions, a trade war has been launched against Qatar and, colleagues, we would like to speak frankly here. Of course, we can talk about everything, but it would be right to concentrate our attention on those issues, which can lead to great problems, if we don’t start discussing them, if we don’t talk about them in our national parliaments. All this will create a huge threat to global security, to what has been created for decades by our countries, parliaments, presidents, and representatives elected by people — all of this will be crossed out. That is why, when we see such an attitude, of course, it cannot but worry us, and we cannot stand aside. And if someone thinks that this concerns only the Middle East, North Africa or individual countries of South America, it is a huge mistake. This can affect absolutely any of the countries participating in the Inter-Parliamentary Union — and almost all countries are its members.

At the 136th Assembly, we adopted a resolution, which is absolutely right, on the role of parliaments in observing the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states. It states about the need for parliaments of the IPU member states to uphold a position in favor of preserving the foundations of international law. Only together we can resist interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, the ”color revolutions“ that threaten the peaceful and free development of countries and peoples.

Conflicts and wars lead to humanitarian disasters, the flow of internally displaced persons and refugees. This directly affects the quality of people’s life. The UN estimates that only 23% of school-age refugees attend educational institutions. Therefore, when we speak, for example, about Syria, Libya, it is crucial to fully restore peaceful life, to build a social infrastructure for the return of refugees to their homes.

Last week we met with the President of Lebanon. More than two million people fled from neighboring Syria to Lebanon. The five-million population of the country has increased almost one and a half times. This is an unbearable burden on the state, on its economy, on the people of Lebanon. The country is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. But we all perfectly understand why this happened, who was behind the creation of a terrorist state and tried to overthrow the legitimate government in Syria and seize power.

Dear Colleagues!

The policy of creation, not destruction, should become a model in international relations, including the parliamentary dimension. We see the answer to the contemporary challenges to the international legal order in the unifying agenda. In general, this is one of the goals of an address here at the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I hope that my colleagues from countries that face such situations and are going to deliver their speeches later will support me in this issue. It is necessary to cooperate not only in the sphere of education and development of the digital economy, but first of all, in matters related to security, interregional cooperation and countering international terrorism.

It would be right to not only discuss these issues, but to start drafting model legislation on the key problems and challenges of today. This would be a real contribution of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the achievement of the goals of peace, security and countering terrorism. This will make the laws adopted more effective in many states, because we should have the same approaches here. Only in this case the fight against this evil will be effective.

People of our countries are waiting for the solution of specific issues of socio-economic development, improving the quality of life. Today, according to the UN, only 42 percent of young children and secondary school age children in the world have a basic level of reading and math skills.

The legislation in the field of education should be shared and best practices, the search for effective model solutions should be exchanged. Today this topic is becoming a priority for inter-parliamentary cooperation also because we are entering the digital era. I would like to dwell at this issue in more detail.

Taking into account that our future belongs to high-tech, knowledge-based economy, it will require new knowledge, competences, specialists. In the conditions of digitalization, the “long-term” skills stability will decrease in almost all professions. Even now, the amount of data in the world doubles every 26 months. Therefore, the future educational system will be based on the development of personal talents, taking into account the individual child’s characteristics, early vocational guidance, beginning in school.

There is a special responsibility on us to ensure the legislative regulation of new knowledge. Introduction of digital technology makes us create legislation in this area, which, on the one hand, will be aimed at development of a new economy, and, on the other hand, it will address issues related to cybersecurity, the protection of citizens' rights, intellectual property, and the storage of big data.

The fact that data access and management is exercised outside our countries should be a matter of concern When we take the gadget in our hands, we should understand that almost all countries do not have the right and abilities to protect the data of their citizens, and this is a very important issue of sovereignty. And our citizens can be disconnected and will not be able to use electronic services, social networks from abroad, for example, in the case of illegal sanctions.

We should do everything to ensure that new technologies are accessible, that citizens are protected, and digital sovereignty of the state is guaranteed.

Traditionally, sovereignty included features that define the independence of a state. First of all, we are talking about the territory of the state, its borders, the supremacy of power, an independent legal system, the army, the national currency, and in general, financial and tax spheres.

Earlier, when we talked about interference in the affairs of other states, we meant first of all, aggressive actions involving the crossing of borders. But in modern world, there is no need to cross the border to cause damage to another state. Internet technologies make it possible to meddle in the work of state bodies, in election campaigns, in the operation of nuclear power plants, to create a traffic collapse, to bring down the financial system of countries and corporations. Perpetrators damage the reputation of people, organizations and entire nations.

For these reasons, we should not only recognize, but also ensure the digital sovereignty of any state in the field of Internet technologies, the protection of personal data, and the protection of the information space. That would be a good future agenda of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Substantive work on the legislative support of the concept of digital sovereignty will be carried out by the parliaments.

Dear Colleagues! Before I wish you fruitful work, I think that we have a huge number of people willing to present a speech, and this is the reason of such a long line of speakers, I would like to offer to congratulate the person who has done a lot for the development of the Inter-Parliamentary Union — Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Valentina Matvienko. We know her as a person who has done a lot for the Inter-Parliamentary Union, has done everything to strengthen its position in the world.

Thank you for your attention!”