The second part of the visiting session began with a speech by Vache Gabrielyan, Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Minister of International Economic Integration and Reform. He explained in detail the consequences of the economic crisis and the devaluation of the Russian ruble in 2015-2016. According to Gabrielyan, Armenia has gone through hard times, and they coincided with joining the Eurasian Economic Union, but without integration into the union, the economic consequences of the events in Russia would have been much worse for the country.
"As an economic project, the EAEU has great potential, and from the point of view of economic relations has already yielded results," the Deputy Prime Minister noted. In particular, it became much easier for Armenian business to trade in the EAEU countries, mainly in Russia.
Discussing relations with the EU, Gabrielyan stressed that such a level of economic cooperation, as described in the previous draft agreement with the EU, will no longer exist, since Armenia joined the EAEU. However, in the near future it will be possible to seek new ways of mutually beneficial cooperation and it is quite possible to return to the previous levels of trade with the EU countries.
How to maintain stability and promote development in a rapidly changing world
On March 11, a visiting session of the Valdai Discussion Club, titled “A Time of Change: The World in an Era of Global Unpredictability” opened in Yerevan, Armenia. The event is attended by about 100 people, including leading Russian, international and Armenian experts along with members of Armenia’s government. Developments in Eurasia and South Caucasus were discussed during the session in the context of modernity and challenges emanating from the Greater Middle East.
The session continued with the second panel, "Eurasian integration and prospects of emergence of a new global development centre". The moderator, Sergey Minasyan. Deputy Director of the Caucasus Institute, opened the panel, stressing the importance of multilateral discussion of the issues of Eurasian integration. Yaroslav Lissovolik, chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank and program director of the Valdai Club, outlined two global macroeconomic trends: rampant protectionism and the shift of the center of gravity of the global economy to Asia.
"In these conditions, the accumulative progress of the EAEU is a very important trend. We see a number of megaprojects, like the "silk road" and the prospect of creating a free trade zone. "
Martin Galstyan, Head of the Scientific Research Center of the Central Bank of Armenia, said that the EAEU states should focus on increasing labor productivity. This is a large-scale task, taking into account the technological backwardness of states.
The first Prime Minister of Armenia (1991-1992) Vazgen Manukyan stressed that the Cold War ended without understanding how to build the world onwards. The West decided that one could act as before, relying on old institutions that functioned well in the Western world during the Cold War, but this did not work.
"Eurasian integration is an attempt by the countries entering into it, to preserve their identity. This is not only Russia's desire to restore some of its space, "he said. The former prime minister said that at present, the development of the EAEU faces great challenges. "An essential problem for all countries is the confrontation between Russia and the West, and this is not the confrontation through which development takes place. In addition, there can be integration without common policies and common values." Talking about the possible philosophical substantiation of development, Manukyan urged "to go the way of reasonable evolutionary liberalism".
Rector of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anatoly Torkunov elaborated on this topic: "The EAEU, like any integration association, should have a cultural and humanitarian basis." According to Torkunov, although at the first stage of development of the EAPS, the issues of socio-humanitarian cooperation were not at the forefront, now their turn has come.
"The EAEU states should provide for megaprojects in the field of education, in particular, network projects, as well as in the sphere of high technologies and information," Torkunov stressed.
Alexander Rahr, Academic Director of the German-Russian Forum and a Valdai Club expert, said that the EAEU may well grow in the future by creating new forms of relations with India, Turkey and Iran. A strong EAEU along with a powerful transatlantic bloc can lead to positive results in a repeated attempt to form a single space from Lisbon to Vladivostok. "Europe without Eurasia and Russia is an unstable Europe," Rahr said.
At the end of the panel session, the Valdai Club Eurasian programme director Timofei Bordachev continued the discussion on the future status of the EAEU. In particular, he stressed that the countries of Eurasia should, first of all, serve their own interests, which "will provide them with subjectness in contemporary international relations".
Concluding the visiting session, Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Club, stressed the importance of the dialogue held in the new format for the club and urged all participants to continue it.