The Valdai Discussion Club Foundation, in cooperation with its partners, launched a new research project on Eurasian integration with a workshop in Shanghai on November 16-17. The aim of the project is to examine the entire Eurasian space in four dimensions and from four perspectives. The four dimensions are economic, political, security and social; and the four perspectives are Russian, Central Asian, Chinese and EU/US.
Over 200 Russian and foreign experts attended the 10th meeting of the Valdai Club. The participants focus on analyzing the internal processes and external challenges to work out a vision of Russia in the future.
Evaluating Russia’s development index during the annual poll this year, experts of the Valdai Discussion Club spoke positively about the country's growing role in national, regional and global security, foreign policy and soft power. Most negative assessment was given to performance of Russia’s political institutions, public confidence in them and the dynamics of economic development.
The research poll analyses five basic valuable aspects of contemporary Russian identity. In particular, the respondents were proposed to reflect over following principal aspects: culture, religion, ethnicity, self-identification, patriotism etc.
This report is based on discussions held at the Valdai Club's Middle East Dialogue conference, which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on May 14-15, 2013. The event was attended by high-profile politicians from the Middle East and North Africa, including leaders of Islamist movements, as well as prominent experts, analysts and journalists from Russia and around the world.
Abrupt changes are unlikely in Russian-French relations. Unlike most of his fellow Socialists, Hollande is pragmatic. He wants to develop relations with Russia, with special emphasis on trade and economic cooperation. Economic diplomacy has been proclaimed as the main goal of French foreign policy.
Intolerably terrible for the world and for Russia would be the collapse of the European Union. Russia has a vital, existential interest in the success of Europe’s unavoidable reforms. Russia does not want an unstable and newly hostile West in addition to the increasingly dangerous South and alarming East.
Business is running and gas is flowing, but Russia’s behavior is unacceptable in Europe. Something fundamental has changed on the Russian side, too. Putin believes Europe—and the West more broadly—is in decline, and wants to reposition Russia vis-à-vis the main centers of power in the twenty-first century.
A year is a very long time in politics. Over the past year Russia’s relations with the West have deteriorated, not helped by events in Syria and the Magnitsky Act. A new beginning and a desire to cooperate are essential: not the ‘reset’ button, but completely new software
The proposed new Russian foreign policy concept speaks of applying confidence and co-operation on the basis of pragmatism with Moscow’s European partners. Yet developments over the past year have prompted fears in Russia that an undeclared cold war is already being waged. The West’s pointed refusal to recognise Moscow’s concerns and Russia’s pointedly unfriendly actions have created an atmosphere of mutual mistrust.
For Russia, South Stream is above all an instrument for enhancing the reliability of gas supplies to Europe, which is the key consumer of Russian natural gas. In terms of profitability, Gazprom’s investment in the project will be partly compensated by the revenues of Russian steel and pipe-building companies, which will provide their products for the pipeline.
The Old Europe countries are interested in developing close cooperation with Russia, whereas New Europe, that is, the latest newcomers to the EU, would like to keep Russia at arm’s length. Relations between Russia and Germany are several steps ahead of Russia's relations with the EU as a whole.
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.
The structure of Nagorno-Karabakh is a Canton-like. There were regions dominated by the Azerbaijanis, there were regions dominated by the Armenians. Without the return of all the people who would like to go back there, we cannot talk about any recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh or discussions of this issue.
Violent suppression of protests can lead not to stabilization but just the opposite. It forces Yanukovych to seek solidarity only in Moscow. It puts Russia in a position where it will again be involved in Ukrainian politics. And in this murky swamp, we have repeatedly gotten bogged down.
The consequences of marketisation and competitive capitalism in Russia not only changed the form of inequalities but greatly amplified them both between and within regions. There is a polarisation between the rich and the poor in the richest areas which is paralleled, though to a slightly less unequal extent, in the poorer regions. The same economic principles work in all regions, despite some being more poorly endowed than others.