The 15th Annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club completed its work in Sochi. Four days ago 130 experts from 33 countries of the world gathered in search of the elusive truth. Six thematic and four special sessions, meetings with government officials and cultural figures - the program was rich, the issues, raised during the discussions, were urgent. Traditionally the results were summed up at the plenary session with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
According to the president, “15 years is quite something. I believe that the Valdai Club, as we called it because the first events took place in Novgorod, has become a good international platform over these years, a platform for professionals who are interested in global politics, the economy, culture as well as the work of media. Of course, in relation to Russia.”
The discussions always revealed different points of view, sometimes quite the opposite. “These discussions have always presented different and sometimes even opposite points of view. I think that this is the advantage of this discussion club,” Vladimir Putin said.
“It is true that, as you have noted, Valdai has various points of view. There have always been many opinions, and this year is no exception”, confirmed Fyodor Lukyanov, moderator of the session and research director of the Valdai Discussion Club.
For two and a half hours the participants talked with the president about terrorism, nuclear threat, national identity, the Middle East, palliative medicine, the Kuril Islands, sanctions, biological weapons ... even about cheese! There were a lot of questions. The president looked frank and spoke, as always, clearly and simultaneously metaphorically. We will not retell everything in this analytical summary, you will be able to read the transcript of the meeting on our website.
The plenary session with the president was undoubtedly the main event of the day, but there were other sessions and meetings. Another important closed-door session (Chatham House rules) took place, where experts discussed the foreign policy in the era of uncertainties. It was mostly about the war, which is not surprising in the conditions of the “crumbling world” (to understand what this is about, please read the new Valdai Club report). Moreover, after yesterday’s session devoted to the war of the future, there seemed to be some understatement.
Session 6. Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times: Pursuing Development in a Changing World
On October 17 the experts talked about the inevitability and horrors of the old and new wars, today it was a conversation in "half tones". According to experts, what is happening now is not the renaissance of war, but the renaissance of politics. Politics becomes the continuation of war by other means (© Karl von Clausewitz). There is an expansion of military consciousness into politics, a mixture of balance in favor of the military, their role in foreign policy is increasing - for example, the US policy in Syria is largely carried out by the Pentagon rather than by the State Department. War is a zero-sum game, and politics is "half-tones, reflection and often elementary empathy." Therefore, there are few forums like Valdai Club where you can talk openly.
One of the participants, also appealing to von Clausewitz, said that strategically Russia is defenseless, only General Moroz (Frost) can save it. Its main weakness is the lack of a strategy for long-term economic growth. But there are several pillars of Russian foreign policy. In particular, the eternal values (honor, faith, family); sovereignty; smart power — its latest manifestation was in Vladimir Putin’s message to the Federal Assembly on March 1, 2018, where the president presented the latest Russian weapons; idea (for example, Eurasianism). Russians do not value membership in international organizations (we will soon leave the Council of Europe, as we left G8, now G7). We do not make concessions to NATO (somewhere we lost and got unfriendly Georgia, Ukraine). We agree for a partnership with anyone who wants to be a "partner".
Another expert, referring to the title of the Valdai Club report, pessimistically said: "The world is not crumbling - it is already crumbled." Metaphorically, earthquakes occurred. The United States realized this and is changing its policy. But Russia has not formulated its line regarding the construction of a large system in the world, and this is one of its mistakes. We are in many ways looking back. No need to go against the West. We must begin to create a new system. We are the most important suppliers of peace and security, but we do not have a peace consolidation strategy.
Russia is actively developing relations with China. This is not some kind of “reversal”, but a rational policy. Another speaker said, that despite the rise of China, Russia still belongs to the European civilization. If we talk about relations with the West, in the coming years, Europe will be an object, not a subject of world politics, and then "we can meet again." Another expert noted, that one of the goals of the United States is to squeeze Russia out of Europe. To avoid this, it is necessary to develop human contacts as much as possible.
Contacts are contacts, but still the Pacific future of Russia is preferable. The main thing is not to allow the world to slip into a bipolar confrontation. Unfortunately, at this stage, the issue of arms control is not a priority. And with such initial data, it is necessary to talk about strategic stability.
Meeting with Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist party of China and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of CPC Central Committee
Yang Jiechi spoke about the importance of security and maintaining world peace, which is not easy to achieve.
We live in a difficult time, in which instability and uncertainty prevail, the level of protectionism is increasing, economic globalization is facing obstacles. “It depends on our choice how the world will develop,” Yang Jiechi said.
People should remember the lessons of the 20th century, which spawned two bloody world wars and a Cold war. The new century came, the world architectonics is again experiencing an era of change, and we must prevent the repetition of the sad historical events of the past century.
The world is becoming interconnected and requires common effort, not a game of solitude. The main driver of economic growth can be multipolarity.
China and Russia, according to Yang Jiechi, are the initiators of global peace and sustainability. At the same time, they are the driving forces for the growth of the world economy.
Inter-civilizational dialogue is the shortest path to friendship. The development and strengthening of common interests is a common task for all countries. In this connection it is impossible to ensure one’s own security to the detriment of others.
We remind you that the Valdai Club Annual meeting lasted four days - from October 15 to October 18.
More details about the Valdai Club meeting can be found in our social networks. We are on Facebook and Twitter. Photos and videos from the lobby of the forum, closed-door and open meetings can be viewed. If it is important for you to know how to live in the crumbling world, it's time to sign up.