“The present crisis has highlighted the urgent need to improve the global governance system, and in this situation, the BRICS have set an example of mutual assistance, cooperation, support and responsible behaviour, without manifesting a ‘friend or foe’ logic,” said Pavel Knyazev, Deputy Director of the Department of Foreign Policy Planning of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during an online presentation of the Valdai Club’s new report, titled “BRICS and the Rivalry Pandemic”.
The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke about specific measures being taken by the BRICS countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the financial anti-crisis assistance provided by the New Development Bank, work on an early warning mechanism for outbreaks of infection, the development of diagnostic and preventive measures for the disease, as well as joint epidemiological exercises. Knyazev expressed confidence that “the upcoming 12th BRICS summit in St. Petersburg will be successful and will embody the strategic partnership and the spirit of cohesion.”
Viktoriya Panova, Academic Supervisor of the BRICS Russia Organising Committee Expert Council, stressed that against the background of other international institutions, the BRICS association “looks more advantageous and humane”. In her speech, she paid special attention to strategies for jointly overcoming the vulnerabilities that have been exposed by the pandemic: they include the development of inaccessible rural and urban areas, the use of technology for the common good and the prevention of protectionism. “We will come out of this year with new ideas and stronger ones,” the expert said.
Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director and Research Fellow at the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics, emphasised three points that should become the main ones underpinning unification amid the current situation: strengthening multilateralism in global governance, the democratisation of politics and dialogue with third players, including within the framework of the BRICS+ format, as well as the fight against the pandemic and assistance to other countries.
This multifaceted agenda was also supported by Cui Zheng, Deputy Director of the Research Centre for the Economies and Politics of Transitional Countries at Liaoning University. The Club’s guest pointed to the relationship between supporting the economy and establishing a world order based on rules and solidarity.
In the final analysis, Timofei Bordachev, programme director of the Valdai Club and moderator of the discussion, noted that from the perspective of Russia’s BRICS presidency, the pandemic presents both a challenge and an opportunity to implement new projects and demonstrate unity. However, the specific content of this possibility still remains to be determined more clearly.