Looking Beyond the Horizon. Vladimir Putin Meets with Participants of the Valdai Club Annual Meeting. Day 4
List of speakers

The most highly anticipated event of the last day of the XIV Annual meeting of the Valdai Club was undoubtedly the meeting with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. The traditional session with the participation of Vladimir Putin summed up the four-day Valdai discussions, where over 130 experts from 33 countries took part. Scientists discussed modern global, political and social  conflicts, the possibility of society's adaptation to new challenges. Through the analysis of contemporary conflicts, the contours of the future world were predicted.

"By tradition, this forum focuses on discussing the most pressing global political as well as economic matters. This time, the organisers, as was just mentioned again, have come up with a fairly difficult challenge asking the participants to try to look beyond the horizon, to ponder over what the coming decades may be like for Russia and the international community," Vladimir Putin said, addressing the participants of the plenary session, titled “The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation”.

The President noted that it is impossible to take into account all the opportunities and risks that we will appear in the future. However, we need to feel the key trends, look for non-trivial answers to the questions that the future poses. " The world has entered an era of rapid change. Things that were only recently referred to as fantastic or unattainable have become a reality and have become part of our daily lives. <...> However, many past recipes for global governance, overcoming conflicts as well as natural contradictions are no longer applicable, they often fail, and new ones have not been worked out yet," Putin said during his speech.

Of course, the interests of states do not coincide in all ways, the President said, which is normal, since the leading powers have different geopolitical strategies, a vision of the world. However, when the actors begin to "push" their own interests at any cost, this balance is violated, which leads the world to tough conflicts.

According to Putin, any contradictions must be resolved in a civilized way. "All disputes must be resolved in a civilised manner. Russia has always favoured such an approach. We are firmly convinced that even the most complex knots – be it the crisis in Syria or Libya, the Korean Peninsula or, say, Ukraine – must be disentangled rather than cut."

“A harmonious future is impossible without social responsibility, without freedom and justice, without respect for traditional ethical values and human dignity. Otherwise, instead of becoming a world of prosperity and new opportunities, this “brave new world” will turn into a world of totalitarianism, castes, conflicts and greater divisions," Putin said.

Alongside the President of Russia the speakers at the final session included former President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, Research Director at the Norwegian Nobel Institute Asle Toje, and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma.

During the speeches of the panelists and their subsequent discussion with the participants of the session, the most topical issues were touched: US behavior on the world stage, crisis of democracies in the West, anti-Russian sanctions, solution of the conflict in Ukraine, nuclear tests in the DPRK, UN reforms and much more. More details about this you can find here.

The plenary session was preceded by another, equally interesting and rich discussion, also devoted to the future, but more practical part of it, namely, to new technologies, the conflict of progress and humanism. Like most of Sochi's sessions, Chatham House's rule was used, implying the anonymity of all discussions.

Experts noted, that humanity has reached a point where technology, using the metaphor of an unmanned vehicle, "sits behind the wheel and becomes the driver of human destiny." Almost all revolutionary technologies are a double-edged sword. Making human life more comfortable and safe, they create new risks. An example is nuclear technology.

Legal and ethical systems simply do not keep following  the pace of technological change, it is necessary to develop a fundamentally new framework that can take into account the changing technological environment.

Participants agreed that governments play a key role in regulating the risks associated with new technologies. One of them stressed, that today it is impossible to pursue a policy beyond which the science does not stand, and it is necessary to explain the importance of scientific research to those who make political decisions. Another expert noted, that the main problem of mankind lies in the complete inconsistency of existing forms of state control over technologies and the level of their development. Politicians do not understand science and its impact on social development, while scientists often forget about which political forces will use their technological discoveries. Here is the need for a new techno-political narrative, that would unite an understanding of technologies and the goals of society.

The Annual Valdai Club meeting ended, but the Club continues its work. The next event will be held on October 20, as part of the World Festival of Youth and Students 2017. Panelists of the special session, titled "Birth of the New World: Conflicts and Responsibility" (among them – Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director, Valdai Discussion Club; Anatol Lieven, Professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar; Sheng Shiliang, Senior Research Fellow, Global Challenges Studies, Xinhua News Agency, Alexander Rahr, Research Director, German-Russian Forum)  will discuss how to minimize risks in the period of cardinal transformation and build a new world order.