Programme of the 13th Middle East Conference
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia

Programme of the 13th Middle East Conference
of the Valdai Discussion Club and the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
“Time for Decisive Action: A Comprehensive Settlement for the Sake of Stability in the Region”

On February 13–14, 2024, the Valdai Discussion Club, with the support of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, will host its thirteenth annual Middle East Conference. The Club’s Middle East conferences have been held since 2009. Over the years, the forum was hosted by Jordan, Malta, and Morocco. Since 2016, the Middle East conference has become an annual event and is held in Moscow.

February 13, Tuesday

09:55 – 10:00     Opening of the conference (live: English, Arabic, Russian)

10:00 – 11:30     Session 1. Towards a Comprehensive Settlement in the Middle East (live: English, Arabic, Russian)

The world is witnessing another round of violence in the Middle East, triggered by the unsolved crisis in Palestine. It has been going on for more than seventy years, despite a series of UN Security Council resolutions that should have paved the way for peace settlement. In recent years, there have been attempts to essentially freeze the peace process, which has only made the status quo more dangerous. Only realization of the legitimate rights of the peoples living there can serve as foundation for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and this requires a constructive approach of all parties concerned.

12:00 – 13:30     Meeting with Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (live: English, Arabic, Russian)

14:30 – 16:00     Session 2. Heritage of Colonial Policy and Its Echoes in the Middle East (live: English, Arabic, Russian)

The clash of interests between Russia and Western countries in Eastern Europe accelerates the crumbling of the global post-colonial system. Regional in its nature, the security crisis in Europe indirectly triggered developments in other regions of the world. A chain of conflicts of varying degrees of intensity leads to a change in the overall balance and generally contributes to the weakening of Western dominance. Double standards in the West's assessment of the developments in Ukraine and Palestine, bias and lack of desire to find a fair and balanced solution give additional impetus to changes on the world stage.

16:30 – 18:00     Session 3. Question of Palestine – What Is Next? (live: English, Arabic, Russian)

The crisis of autumn 2023 has brought the question of Palestine back to the centre of the political agenda in the Middle East and around the world. Those who in recent years were inclined to think that the issue was peripheral have been convinced that this is not the case. The war in Gaza has shown that there is no solution by force, but that the political and diplomatic process requires fundamental rethinking. How can we respond to the challenge of the situation while ensuring the legitimate rights to security and development of all the peoples involved

February 14, Wednesday

10:30 – 12:00     Session 4. Diversity of Actors in the Middle East: Is Balance Achievable?

The emergence of influential and proactive actors aspiring to become autonomous centres of power in the Middle East suggests the formation of multipolarity in the region. Will the new system help contain conflicts, establish and strengthen new formats of interaction between regional powers without the involvement of external forces, and exercise a more tangible national sovereignty?

12:30 – 14:00     Session 5. Is a Nuclear-free Middle East Possible?

The issue of nuclear weapons has returned to the agenda due to the general escalation of international tensions. It is highly relevant in West Asia, which is believed to have de facto nuclear and threshold powers. Under certain circumstances, a number of states may pursue nuclear weapons programmes. How does this factor affect the regional atmosphere and what should be the international strategy in light of this?

15:00 – 16:30     Session 6. Economic Cooperation in the Region: Opportunities and Challenges

Trade and economic cooperation between Russia and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa is one of the pillars of Moscow's regional strategy. The session will address the potential for the implementation of joint energy and logistics projects, the opportunities offered by cooperation in finance, technology and investment, as well as possible solutions to food security challenges.