Andrey Bystritskiy: Issues that Will Determine our Future

Speech by Andrey Bystritskiy, Board Chairman of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, at the Plenary Session of the 13th Valdai Club Annual Meeting titled "A Philosophy of International Development for the New World", October 27, 2016.

Mr President, moderator, ladies and gentlemen,

We have come together for the final plenary session of the annual Valdai meeting. I think we have done a great deal during our three-day meeting. In my opinion, it was an exceptionally interesting conference. We discussed current issues that will determine our future. Generally, we focused on some five areas where developments determine our future.

They are international relations, the economy, demographics and migration, technology and the social fabric. These areas are important for obvious reasons. The issues of war and peace depend on international relations, and humankind’s development depends on the economy. Demographic and migration issues can disrupt stability in many countries. And technology can change our views on what is possible in this world.

And lastly, the social structure has always influenced foreign policy, but this influence has become especially pronounced now. In general, the conference shed light on many issues and raised many new questions. On the one hand, we seem to have agreed that the modern world is unthinkable without international institutions and international law, but the current state of these is not ideal. The world needs to develop and improve the existing institutions and possibly create new or additional ones.

It is interesting that when discussing the natural contradictions between large global players, the majority of our experts agreed that these contradictions are not insurmountable, and that there is a chance, however small, to overcome them and come to an agreement. It is curious that many experts pointed out that while the United States continues to play an important role, the influence of many countries, primarily China, India and Russia, has been growing, which is not the case of Western Europe, whose capability and activity have been insufficient, despite its economic might. Moreover, they seem to be decreasing compared to Asia and Russia, which are rising.

We also discussed areas that do not directly depend on politics and the authorities, namely technologies and migration. At a session on migration entitled The World after Migration, the idea was raised that the session should have been called The World before Migration, because the biggest waves of migration and the greatest threats may be still ahead.

Much has been said about technology. Although we are aware of the growing power of technology, and even see some serious consequences, we still cannot fully perceive its scale, influence or long-term consequences. This is partly why, as we have said today, the Valdai Club and the VTSIOM Public Opinion Research Centre are creating a new index to gauge the readiness level of the world’s countries for the future.

Furthermore, we had two other very interesting sessions: on the Middle East and Europe. The participants expressed widely different and sometimes even opposite opinions.

I also think that our meetings with Igor Shuvalov, Vyacheslav Volodin, Sergei Lavrov and Alexei Kudrin were very interesting. These discussions were attended by Ella Pamfilova and many other prominent Russian and foreign experts.

In short, it is impossible to tell you in just three minutes about what happened over the past three days. As usual, we will submit a report on this Valdai Club conference to your exacting attention.

Originally published on

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.