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 decision of the U.S. Congress is quite understandable. Americans are very concerned about strengthening the radicals’ position in the Syrian opposition. In addition, the U.S. learned a lesson in Libya, where Islamic radicals attacked the American consulate on September 11, 2012 and killed the ambassador and several diplomats. Since then, the United States operates with more caution in the Middle East.
Relations between Iran and Russia will continue to develop. But, apart from nuclear energy cooperation and military-technical cooperation, there are no other points of contact. Iran and Russia take similar stances on the Syrian issue and some other issues. Russia faces no threat of Shia extremism.
The purpose of Russian peacekeepers is really to prevent small groups of extreme activists trying to explode the whole situation and drag both Syria and Israel into a much bigger and hugely dangerous conflagration. So it's definitely a force for stabilization, and should be endorsed, both by the European powers and by the United Nations.
Russia merely reaffirmed its position, which is natural considering that developments in Syria are turning in its favor. The United States announced that it will begin to send arms to some rebel groups. The conflict in Syria is likely to develop into a protracted war. Russia is all alone on this issue, but the differences over other issues are not that serious.
Iran continues to send signals of its willingness to pursue further cooperation with Russia at the Bushehr NPP site. The construction of two new energy reactors might soon commence on the Persian Gulf coast. Russia has its own reasons to pursue such cooperation. Moscow needs an infrastructure project that would serve as an anchor in Russian-Iranian relations.
Russia has surged ahead on the foreign policy stage, but this is not enough to remain a great power. The tough-minded policies and masterful diplomacy of Russia’s leadership have maximized the country’s position in the world, and are now the main source of its international influence and prestige. Russia’s foreign policy in the next decade depends entirely on what happens at home.
The Ukrainian drama will strengthen the global image of Russia as a nation regaining its past power. Many European leaders have underestimated Moscow ever since the collapse of the USSR. Now, too many might be overestimating it.
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.