April 3-4 2018
Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Key theme: "Russia and the world: image of the future".
MEF-2018: II Plenary discussion

Published: April 9th, 2018

Relations between Russia and the West are at the lowest point since the Cold War. One of the key themes of the VI Moscow Economic Forum is how to stop the process of alienation and preserve the remaining potential for cooperation? The participants in the II Plenary discussion discussed the ways out of the foreign policy crisis. Ruslan Grinberg began the II plenary discussion not with the most rosy approval - Russia is in geopolitical loneliness. In the opinion of the session moderator, our country is increasingly moving away from the most important strategic partners. "We are not alone in this world, 7.5 billion people live on Earth, and in Russia there are only 145 million. I think we are in geopolitical loneliness," the speaker said from the stage. But how to overcome this alienation How to stop the cold war "Both powers are bellicose," says Ruslan Grinberg, "an uncontrolled arms race begins without any rules, since the main sides of the most important international treaties are constantly coming out of them." So, what is the price of cooling relations with the West? Experts are divided into two groups on the issue of their own opinions on this situation and their opinions are contrary, some argue that the sanctions have benefited Russia, played a role in its development, including the development of industrial and agricultural complexes, while others are convinced of their destructive effects. The discussion was attended by: Wang Wen, Executive Dean of the Institute of Financial Studies, Renmin University of China (RDCY), Valery Garbuzov, Director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, Leonid Ivashov, Colonel-General, President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Grzegorz Kolodko, Head of the Research Institute "TIGER" At the University of Kozminsky, Deputy Prime Minister (2002-2003) and Minister of Finance of Poland (1994-1997, 2002-2003), Andrei Kortunov, Director General of the Russian Council for International Affairs, Thierry Mariani, French Minister of Transport (2010-2012), Honorary Member of the French Parliament, President of the Franco-Russian Dialogue, Falk Tischendorf, Managing Partner of the Moscow office of the BEITEN BURKHARDT Law Firm, official representative of the Federal State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Germany) in Russia, Oleg Shein, a member of the State Duma Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Veterans Affairs. In his speech, Wang Wen focused on the aspect of interaction between Russia and China. According to the speaker, the Russian economy, like the Chinese economy, in spite of its instability for the past two years, on the whole demonstrates long-term growth. Wang Wen believes that the format of the current interaction between Russia and China demonstrates an ideal model of the relationship of the world leaders. He noted that both powers have a positive impact on the development of the world economy, which, however, is underestimated by Western media. In addition, the speaker recalled that this year China celebrates the 40th anniversary of the reform of the country's economy, which turned it from the poorest into one of the most developed. Wang Wen noted that, in his opinion, the Russian economy also has all chances for such a significant development. Valery Garbuzov as a whole outlined the picture of relations between Russia and the West. The Speaker noted with regret that today they are becoming ever more acute. He called the US reaction to Russia's actions tough, and the reason for this is the desire of our country to reconsider the policy of Yeltsin's times. If earlier, according to the expert, both powers went along the path of development, along the way of expanding the agenda, today it is turned upside down: expulsion of diplomats, closing of diplomatic missions. Such a policy can hardly be called constructive. According to the forecast of Valery Garbuzov, depressing reality will last for more than one year. The interaction of Russia and the West, according to the expert, revolves around two spirals - confrontational and sanctions. "They have turned into two pillars of interaction. This course is aimed at restraining Russia, "Garbuzov explained. A unique phenomenon in this situation is the rise of China. Some experts even call this country a superpower. Nevertheless, it is obvious that China has managed to fit into the modern world and influence in an unusual way, not like the US. It is a new style of interaction with the US, based on both influence and rejection. According to Grzegorz Kolodko, the next generation should build a new relationship of lasting good-neighborliness between Russia and Poland. Now, as the speaker emphasized, official Warsaw is completely under the influence of America, but this does not contribute to the development of its economy. The emphasis is only on political cooperation, but not on economic. People do not know what is needed to develop the economy, perhaps, there is not enough knowledge, the speaker said. Grzegorz Kolodko believes that between Russia and the West a cold warrior is still going on. Many predict that such relations can develop into more serious problems, like new military clashes. According to him, the close attention of the world community is now focused on the development of cooperation between Russia, China and India. According to the speaker, this is a very strong alliance, 32% of the population and 29% of world GDP belong to these three states. According to the latest statement of the Chinese president, relations between official Beijing and Moscow have reached a new level, and now they are the most solid in the history of their cooperation. Relations between Russia and Poland in the near future can grow warmer if the political cooperation of these countries with the United States changes, Kolodko concluded. According to Andrei Kortunov, today Russia-US relations can be compared with the Cold War. However, the situation is different from the 1970s, when there was a relaxation of tension between the parties, there were agreements on arms reduction, when the rules of the game were understood. The Speaker said that at that time they were more serious about the possibility of using nuclear weapons. Now people take such serious problems lightly. This can lead to very serious consequences. Andrei Kortunov stressed that anyone can argue as much as they please about the term "cold war" applied to today's relations between Russia and the West, but this does not change the situation. "Today there is more hope for cooperation with Europe than with the United States," said the head of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs. Figuratively speaking, Andrei Kortunov compared the new model of interaction between Russia and the West with the process of the car, which switched from diesel fuel to electricity. He believes that it is necessary to take into account the mechanisms and procedures that helped to avoid a military clash during the Cold War, but also take into account the specifics of the situation. It is important even in the current relations with the West to maintain all cooperation in the direction of science, culture, and civil society. At the conclusion of his speech, the speaker drew the attention of the participants of the plenary session to the fact that all mankind should together solve one more important problem - the ecological one. It is important to change your attitude towards the environment. To avoid an ecological catastrophe, you need to change the situation now, despite all the difficulties. Discussing the global world under the conditions of radical changes, the Minister of Transport of France (2010-2012), the honorary member of the French parliament, the president of the Franco-Russian Dialogue Thierry Mariani noted that now there are all signs of the return of the "cold war". According to him, the war between Europe and Russia is really likely, because the situation has become difficult for many European countries. At the same time, not only Russian companies are afraid of sanctions from the US, but also European ones, including French ones, who are also forced to organize their activities in a different way. So, the expert cited the example of a large bank BNP Paribas, who felt the US sanctions. In addition, the American judicial system has a serious impact on the policies of other countries - and this is also a sign of the return of the "cold war". At the same time, the normalization of relations between Russia and the United States is something that the European Union is also interested in. He also called for remembering that Europeans now can not pursue an independent policy. Nevertheless, modern American policy is somewhat weaker than in the old days, which means that it is a chance for Europe, for the new governments of France and Germany to show their strength and correctly place the emphasis in domestic and foreign policy. Falk Tischendorf noted that Europe is also experiencing a crisis inside itself: the democracies themselves are changing, and the relationship with North America has become more complicated. And this should be borne in mind both by European politicians and their partners, among which Russia has a strategic place. The expert agreed that the situation in the world is quite critical. He also noted that Germany is largely responsible for relations between Europe and Russia. However, he said, it should be remembered that the EU has 28 countries and Germany can not make important decisions alone. Mr. Tischendorf expressed the hope that Germany and Russia will be able to understand what was done wrong and, despite some aggravation, to build a promising interaction. So, in his opinion, the situation in the Crimea and Ukraine has not yet shifted from a dead center, which means that it is possible to shift attention to other acute and important problems. Oleg Shein recalled in his speech that the beginning of the 20th century was remarkable for cardinal changes throughout the world, namely, the creation of a middle class, when an ordinary person was able to travel to the world for his wages, for example. In fact, there was a redistribution of previously accumulated wealth, and this, in turn, led to the main phenomenon - realities, where knowledge and skills could help the poor person become rich. At the same time, Shein noted that in the last decades the world has come to the forefront of services, where wages remain at a low level. That is, in the same China, with a highly developed economy, about 200 million service workers receive low wages - at the level of the lowest pay in the US and Southeast Europe. As a consequence, the level of high wages in developed countries has also reached its "ceiling" and we have a contradiction: in the overall development of the country we see not the growth of the well-being of the population, but the growth of the national debt - the debt of the countries to large corporations exempted from tax burden through offshore zones . "In Russia, for example, there are companies that are exempt from taxes until 2025. But if something has arrived, it means it has dropped somewhere." If somewhere vacation, paradise and complete liberation from responsibility to society, then somewhere overload, and so on all over the world, "Shein said. He added that the discussion of inequality issues is not a "conversation in favor of the poor", but a fundamentally important problem, without deciding which we risk returning to the model of a frozen society that existed before the beginning of the 20th century. This is what Shein called the main fundamental challenge of modernity.
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