On November 17, the Valdai Discussion Club and the Argentine Council on Foreign Relations (CARI) held a joint discussion, titled “Stability and Security in the Western and Eastern Hemispheres: Views from Russia and Argentina”, dedicated to the most pressing security issues and challenges of the day amid an evolving pandemic crisis. The event was held within the framework of the Valdai Club’s Think Tank project.
In the year of the UN’s 75th anniversary, humanity, for the first time, is facing a truly global crisis, which existing systems of governance are unable to cope with, said CARI advisor Ricardo Ernesto Lagorio, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Argentina to the Russian Federation (2017-2020). Countries like Argentina need multilateralism and soft power to tackle problems, he stressed. Governance issues can no longer be decided from above. A culture of multilateralism is needed, which includes not only the top of society, but also the masses, Lagorio concluded.
Nikolai Silaev, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Studies of the Caucasus at MGIMO University, developed the theme of the role and place of the state in a pandemic-struck world. The pandemic has forced many to talk about the return of the state in the traditional form of a “city surrounded by a wall”. He pointed out that the growth in the intensity of conflicts, which some experts had expected, has not yet happened – on the contrary, states are trying to behave with caution. The same applies to the expected rise of protectionism in the economy: it is quite possible, but the volume of accumulated ties is too large to be broken overnight, therefore, if protectionist tendencies develop, they will be relatively slow, and may still be revised.
CARI Consultant Sebastian Villero, a Lecturer at the University of Buenos Aires and at the Centre for the Macroeconomic Study of Argentina (UCEMA), briefly described the main security problems affecting the modern world and the changed balance between hard and soft power in international relations. He said that within the framework of the new world order that is now emerging, the middle powers have the opportunity, unlike during the Cold War period, to gain – through complex diplomatic manoeuvres – a certain independence and to avoid the trap of the influence of major powers. He examined this situation using the example of the Western Hemisphere and Argentina's policy in the context of the confrontation between the United States and China.
Andrzej Habarta, Senior Research Fellow at MGIMO and Editor-in-Chief of the “Cuadernos Iberoamericanos” Journal, examined the economic situation. Asking if the coronavirus would put an end to globalisation, he suggested that globalisation is likely to continue, albeit in new forms. The crisis, in his opinion, is a catalyst for change, which accelerates processes that have been gradually developing for a long time. In particular, the old sectors of the economy will fade away and digitalisation will increase. Furthermore, the expert gave an overview of relations between Russia and Argentina, noting that both of them are in search of a suitable socio-economic model and both have chosen to pursue regional integration.
“The world urgently needs a reboot,” said Lila Roldán Vázquez, Director of the Contemporary Eurasian Affairs Group and Advisory Member of CARI. Greater cooperation between states is required, alongside respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It is necessary to strengthen support for developing countries and develop economic cooperation. We are moving towards a multilateral world that is becoming more complex and new players are gaining more importance. But it is not at all necessary for a new multipolar world to be more competitive, she stressed, calling for international cooperation. Having examined in detail the integration processes in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Argentine expert expressed hope for the development of the region's ties with Eurasia in general and directly with Russia, with which Argentina has a long tradition of friendship and a cooperation agreement.