Russia is a Euro-Asian country. It's very important for Russia to become a major power both in Europe and in Pacific area. This is the historical destiny of Russia. However, the most important external risk for Russia is the United States' policy of confrontation.
On October 21-25, 2012 Valdai Club experts will tackle scenarios for Russia’s economic development at the Club’s 9th annual summit. Leading economists and analysts who will participate in expert discussions answered the most vital questions on Russian economy in the global framework in a series of interviews for the Valdai Club website. Special attention was paid to the global and internal risks, leadership, investment issues and Russia’s competitive advantages.
interview with Giulio Sapelli, Professor of Economic History and Director of the post-graduate course on “Economy, enterprise and humanitarian disciplines between East and West, University of Milan; SOCRATES-ERASMUS coordinator in University of Milan
What are the most dangerous risks for Russia, including external and internal ones?
Russia is a Euro-Asian country. It's very important for Russia, being a powerful country, to become a major power both in Europe and in Pacific area. This is the historical destiny of Russia. However, the most important external risk for Russia is the United States' policy of confrontation, for example, placing anti-missiles in Eastern Europe. Apart from security issues, only six months ago an incredible situation was solved where China was a part of the WTO since 2001 and Russia was outside this organization.
Internally, the main challenges are generated by not-so-good consolidation of institutions. Among other things, a unity of the nation is vital for Russia. Such an identity for the whole Russian nation should not be based on ethnical and nationalist principles.
What is worse: cheap or expensive oil and gas?
For Russia, obviously, cheap oil and gas is worse, because it provokes a very dangerous situation when the government has no money to modernize the industry and to maintain rising quality of life. However, too high prices of oil and gas are not good for importers of energy resources. Today, the whole world needs to overcome the economic crisis, and lower prices will certainly serve this case. However, in order to achieve a comprehensive development of both energy importers and exporters the prices for oil and gas should be balanced. It is very difficult and challenging because the industry of oil and gas is historically connected with the global development.
What can you say about institutional development and social stability?
Institutional development is surely one of the most important things for any country. Without creation of new institutions and development of the already existing ones the real social stability would not be achieved. The institutional configuration of relations between the state and the civic society is a major factor for any long-term development.
What are the main competitive advantages of Russia in the nearest 10 or 15 years?
First, the most obvious competitive advantages of Russia are its mining and oil and gas industry. As I have stated before, Russia is a Euro-Asian country. Its unique geographical position and vast natural resources create a real incentive for closer cooperation with Europe, the United States, and China both in terms of economy and business. Closer cooperation with Western and Eastern partners should provide Russia’s economy with investment, scientific and technological collaboration. This double approach is the destiny of Russia is in the world, and its main advantage.
Another competitive advantage is Russian heritage and its culture. It's impossible to think of Russia without Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and large and extremely important contribution of Russian culture for the humanity of the literature patrimony of Russia
How do you assess the quality of the leadership in Russia, and the global leadership in general?
I would assess the quality of leadership in Russia in context of general modernization of the country, modernization of industry, rise of salaries and the quality of life, and also in the building of a state of law. Apart from this, a very important quality of a leader, be it in Russia or in the rest of the world, is a strategic vision of the country’s future. However, the vision will be fruitless without the implementation of said vision. So the basic qualities of a leader both on the global scale and in the different countries are a vision of prosperity and the ability to implement this vision.