For the first time Russia will mark Diplomats' Day on February 10th. The professional day of the Russian diplomacy was established on October 31, 2002 by the order of the Russian President in honour of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Day will be celebrated on February 10th.
As the Russian Foreign Ministry said, it was February 10th, 1549 when the Posolsky prikaz (Diplomatic prikaz) - Russia's first foreign policy department set up by Ivan the Terrible - was mentioned for the first time. It marked the moment when the diplomatic service became an independent branch of state management and was granted a special status.
In 1718-1720 the Posolsky prikaz was transformed into the Collegium of Foreign Affairs, and on September 8 (20), 1802, Alexander the First issued a manifesto to establish a ministry of foreign affairs. The first foreign minister was Count Alexander Vorontsov. The Crimean War (1853-1856) battered Russia's position on the international scene. During this period of troubles the Foreign Ministry was headed by Alexander Gorchakov (1856), who made great progress on the international scene and reorganised the department.
Russia had established diplomatic ties with 47 countries and had over 200 representation offices abroad before World War I broke out.
After the October Revolution in 1917 the People's Comissariat for Foreign Affairs (Narkomindel) was set up by the Decree of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
In the 1920s the ministry headed by Georgy Chicherin made efforts to take Russia out of the political isolation and restore it as an acknowledged, equal and integral part of the international community.
During World War II Russian diplomats conducted the policy designed to strengthen the anti-Nazi coalition and open the second front in Europe and participated in drafting all founding inter-allied documents. Russian diplomats made great efforts to have the Organisation of the United Nations established.
The priorities of the postwar period of the Russian diplomacy were the struggle for peace, international detente and disarmament. Russian diplomats greatly facilitated the all-European process, the landmark event of which was the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe signed in Helsinki in 1975. The foreign ministry of the Soviet Union played an important role in reaching agreements with the leading Western countries, in particular with the USA, in arms race control and disarmament.
During the USSR perestroika in the later 1980s the West-East military and strategic confrontation almost faded, the German issue was finally settled and normal relations with China were established.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union when the country was experiencing hard times Russia managed to protect the national interests on the international scene. The foreign policy of Russia as a new democratic country and USSR successor became consistent and pragmatic.
Today the Russian Federation has diplomatic relations with 178 countries and 140 Embassies, 12 representation offices in international organisations, 74 consulates general and 4 consulates. The main office of the Russian Foreign Ministry employs over 3,300 people.
As the Foreign Ministry said, the Russian president's decision to establish Diplomats' Day points out that the Russian diplomacy is recognised as one of the key parts of the Russian statehood.