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.
The current situation in Russia is similar to the one in Europe. No one has any clear and demonstrably correct prescriptions for what to do, and hence the tactic of addressing current issues is clearly taking precedence over the need to develop a strategy. There is a list of issues which Europe resolved long ago but which Russia has been trying to address for centuries, primarily creating an effective government.
Respected experts on European politics spoke during the session including Former Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Wolfgang Schuessel, former Defense minister of Germany Volker Ruehe, senator and former Prime Minister of Poland Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, and former Prime Minister of Italy and ex-President of the European Commission Romano Prodi. Most of the participants in the discussion were optimistic about Europe’s future.
Russia should consider coming up with a western policy concept using the old ideas of Germany’s eastern policy. A “conservative revolution” is unfolding in Russia as a response to the western postmodern mindset, but there are a lot of conservatives and traditionalists in the West as well. Russia should renew its dialogue with the EU on the creation of a free-trade zone, and could get there by accelerating the adoption of WTO rules.
The EU has encountered an unforeseen deformation of market mechanisms. While the EU is rethinking what has happened and working on a new strategy for economic development, Russia is returning to the “good old” practices that imitate democratic institutions and market mechanisms.
The experiment to federalize Europe, which many discussed in full seriousness in the 1990s, will be declared unsuccessful, and the European states will gradually shift over to other means of enhancing their viability in the restless and troubled world of the 21st century.
According to Valdai Club experts, the search of President Evo Morales’ plane at a Vienna airport was not so much a violation of international law as it was a breach of international norms. The Europeans demonstrated to the Bolivian president that his country, like other countries of Latin America, has peripheral status.
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.