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 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.
The reality is that the Russian gas exporter, Gazprom, is as dependent on the European market as the Europeans are on Russian gas. So a great deal of the anxiety about dependence on Russian gas really doesn’t reflect the reality, which is that Gazprom earns most of its profits exporting gas to Europe and to date Gazprom doesn’t mostly export gas to Asia, that’s the future.
Nuclear weapons remain a stumbling block in international relations. Tensions have been building over the Iranian nuclear program and could lead to a new war in the Middle East. The West and Russia might again find themselves eyeing each other across a barricade. This could damage relations for years to come.
Russia is one of the world’s largest energy suppliers and players on the energy market. It produces 9.6% of the world’s primary energy and annually invests about 4.5% of its GDP in the energy sector. Therefore, it needs to make regular and thorough analyses of global energy markets for purposes of national strategic planning and corporate investment.
The trialogue between Poland, Germany and Russia is a new phenomenon in European security policy. It is a very necessary and important instrument for the continuation of cooperation between the West and the European Union and Russia.
Britain’s return to active European politics does not bode well for Russia. With the leadership role being taken over by the French-British tandem, Russia's possibilities to continue pursuing its Euro-Atlantic strategy are narrowed, as London is working to reinforce the military and political capabilities of NATO.
The discord surrounding Syria and the upcoming presidential elections in Russia pushed news from the 48th Munich Security Conference into the background. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented in his Munich speech a program for Russian diplomacy for the near term. One priority is signing a "peace pact" for Europe.
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.