Saturday, February 20, 2010

Russia and Monaco

The Principality of Monaco and Russia have had relations since HSH Prince Charles III of Monaco signed a number of agreements with HIM Czar Alexander II of the Russian Empire. This coincided with the rise in prominence of the casino at Monte Carlo which attracted a large number of Russian aristocracy and members of the Romanov Imperial Family. The Prince and the Czar signed a number of treaties dealing with the law, legal status of Russians in Monaco and the extradition of criminals from Monaco back to Russia. In 1858, when Prince Charles III established the Order of St Charles it was Czar Alexander II who was the first foreign royal to be honored with the decoration. In 1877 a consulate was set up in St Petersburg with Chevalier Jean Plancher appointed by Prince Charles III as the first Monegasque consul to the Russian court.

However, these warm relations came to an end with the horrific Bolshevik revolution and Monaco never established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. For the communists, Monaco represented everything they abhorred most; a country famous for lavish wealth, vacationing capitalist businessmen and an effectively absolute monarchy with an established religion on top of it all. If anything needed to be done between Monaco and the USSR it was handled through the French embassy in Moscow or the Soviet embassy in Paris.

That all changed with the fall of the USSR and the admittance of Monaco into the UN in 1993. Consular relations were established between Monaco and the Russian Federation in July of 1996 and in 2002 HSH Prince Rainier III appointed the first honorary consul of Monaco in St Petersburg. The following year HSH Prince Albert II traveled to Russia to open the consulate. In 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin began negotiations to establishing full diplomatic relations between Russia and Monaco. On July 11 of that year this milestone was reached when the Russian Ambassador to France, Alexander Avdeyev, was appointed as the first Russian Ambassador to Monaco. Full diplomatic relations were established on April 10, 2007.

The Russian ballet has long been popular in Monaco with the Russian ballet of Sergei Diaghilev performing regularly from 1911 to 1929. This was interrupted by the Soviet era but the new era of friendship has brought a number of Russian dance and musical groups to Monaco on tour. Former President and current Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prince Albert II reportedly enjoy a very good relationship and business, trade, tourism and cultural exchanges between Russia and Monaco are strong and only seem set to grow in the future.

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