Speech of Ambassador Yakovenko at the reception in the Russian Embassy in London on the occasion of the Day of Russia (12 June, 2014)

Your Royal Highnesses,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome you all at our National Day.

Year after year, this holiday has been gradually acquiring a special meaning. Today it signifies not only profound democratic and economic change, not only events in the recent history of Russia, but also the entire powerful age-long history of our nation.

This year we celebrate this holiday at the time when Brazil is launching the FIFA World Cup. As you probably know, Russia will be hosting the World Cup in 2018. By the way, we appreciate the choice of date for the opening ceremony (laugh) and wish a smooth and successful tournament to our Brazilian friends.

We live in a remarkable time of global power shifts and new opportunities.

Russia’s foreign policy is primarily focused on creating most favourable conditions for the development of our country.

Our international policies are guided by a deep commitment to the principles of the international law.

In the economic sphere, Russia encourages the development of extensive and high quality cooperation.

In the humanitarian sphere, we put a special emphasis on culture. This year has been declared the Year of Culture in our country, which has coincided with the Russia-UK Crossing Year of Culture.

We promote people-to-people contacts and their freedom of movement.

We have a lot of goals for the future: some of them are in old areas like space, some in new areas like high technology.

We are grateful to our British friends, who have been unable to join us today, but have sent their greetings. We have many friends in different parts of the United Kingdom, like Scotland, Wales, who have sent us the delicious lamb you will try today, Northern Ireland and, certainly, England.

One of the treats today is a gift from a great British chef, Heston Blumenthal. Especially for us, he has baked one of his famous tarts and kindly sent it to my residence earlier this afternoon. I hope it adorns our evening for a while, before we finally set to eat it (laugh).

I wish you all the best, and I hope we all enjoy this evening.