6th Europe-Russia Forum (2011)
Warsaw, Poland 31 May-1 June, 2011
Under the Honorary Patronage of Mr Grzegorz Schetyna,
President of the Polish Parliament
The motto of the 6th Europe-Russia Forum is "Partnership for Modernization" and to this subject referred the plenary session with participation of Parliament Speakers, which was attended by: Grzegorz Schetyna - Speaker of Polish Sejm; Norbert Lammert - Speaker of German Bundestag; Luka Bebić - Speaker of Croatian Parliament, Ene Ergma - Speaker of Estonian Riigikog, Jordi Jane - Deputy Speaker of Spanish Cortes Generales and Alexander Pochinok - Deputy Speaker of the Russian Federal Council.
The idea of partnership between the European Union and Russia for the benefit of modernization, initiated by President Dmitri Medvedev during the Stockholm EU-Russia summit in 2009, including a wide range of joint actions for the benefit of establishing one common area in economy, energy, trade and culture between Europe and Russia, met with a positive response from the European Commission and a great interest of the majority of the member states. The idea of Partnership sparked also interest among Russian analytical centres, state bodies, economic and regional structures and non-governmental organizations.
The Speaker of German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, stressed that it is not possible to speak about lasting cooperation and partnership without "democratization and rule of law". - Long-term partnership cannot be built without these components, and there is no consensus regarding this issue among Russian political elites. A part of it considers modernization in the context of economy and infrastructure. According to Lammert, the situation in Russia still raises doubts in the European public opinion after the first trial of Khodorkovsky.
Lammert mentioned also successes in Russian-EU relations. – Exactly a year ago the topic of Partnership for Modernization was initiated. We have been successful in the area of trade, research projects and infrastructure. In his opinion the least progress is noticeable in democracy and law and order.
Luka Babic, the Speaker of Croatian Parliament, stated that Russia has taken the first position as regards time and energy that the European Union has ever directed towards a single state, which is outside of its structures. – Russia is an important trading partner for the EU, a supplier of natural resources, but, on the other hand, CIS states are the most important target for supply of technology and innovations for the EU.
According to Babic, a correlation is noticeable in the area of energy; that is why it is important to develop the energy network, transmission infrastructure and production capacity. As he assured, accession of Croatia to the European Union will not undermine the rank of bilateral relations between Zagreb and Moscow.
According to Ene Ergma, the Speaker of Estonian Riigikog, one of important issues for modernization is development of civil society. It is a difficult path, which can be overcome only when the authorities really want it – said Ene Ergma. As she added, today is the 31st of May, a day when Ludmila Aleksiejeva and other democrats will defend the civil society.
Jordi Jane - Deputy Speaker of the Spanish General Courts, remarked that a precondition for success of the project 'Partnership for Modernization' is mutual trust and consensus as regards the goals. – Real modernization is possible only with respect of the foundations of the rule of law – emphasized Jordi Jane.
Government officials and political leaders, business executives, local government and NGO activists, leading analysts and academics. Approximately 200 participants from the EU, CIS and USA are expected to attend the Forum.
Russia: Report on Transformation - analysis of economic and political situation in Russia.
In the part of the Forum devoted to the presentation of report „Russia 2010", the floor was taken first by the panel's moderator, Paolo Calzini, Professor of European Studies at US John Hopkins University. Beginning the discussion, he pointed to, in his opinion, the most serious challenge facing Russia currently – modernization of Russian economy and politics.
According to Constantin Simonov, President of the Centre for Current Politics from Russia, where the report was compiled, modernization efforts made by Russian politicians have not succeeded completely. A special project was even launched to symbolize innovative economy in the country, which is known to be one of the greatest CO2 producers and where oil extraction exceeded in 2010 all previous records, still there was no breakthrough last year. In spite of the above, Simonov encouraged to look at the facts presented in the document, as regards both politics, economy and Russian culture, so that evaluation of the situation in Russia does not go from one extreme to another. In his opinion too often discussions about Russia boil down to two monologues: bitter critics of the current Kremlin's policy, and, on the other hand, fervour of optimists while it is certainly worth going one step ahead. Simonov referred also in his speech to Polish-Russian relations emphasizing that despite of the Smolensk catastrophe, one could notice that relations became somewhat closer. The Kremlin agreed to broadcast a movie directed by Andrzej Wajda, entitled „Katyn", and made certain concessions in historical judgments. Moreover, in the end of 2010, a Polish-Russian gas contract was signed. However – in his view – recently one could notice a repeated return of the tone of resentment and claims, especially on the part of Poland.
Georgy Bovt, Co-chairman of the Russian party Pravoje Dielo, in the first place paid attention to lack of successes in modernization of the Russian economy and in the same time the multitude of challenges encountered by Russians. The Russian economy relies primarily on energy. Roughly ¾ of Russian exports originate from oil and gas, while highly-processed products constitute only 4 percent. The quality of human capital also leaves much to be desired – the average lifespan is only 67 years. Additionally, the country that wants to be modernized has only 14 percent of students selecting the sciences and engineering faculties.
Russian infrastructure also needs improvement, and changes take place too slowly. Only 1.5 thousand km of roads are constructed a year, while in China the length of roads built every year reaches 45 thousand km. The municipal property is also in poor condition, 70 percent requires replacement. Despite of the above Russia has a great potential. It is a huge consumers' market, where one person owns statistically more than 1 mobile phone. Bovt said also a few words about the future presidential election. In his opinion, today it is difficult to anticipate who will win, but everything suggests that in March 2013 Russians will opt for Putin and he will be forced to arrive first to the finish line, as he will have no other choice.
Gerd Harms, former secretary of state in the government of Brandenburg, is concerned about lack of small and medium size enterprises in Russia and the centralization of the economy. In his view, it is the most significant issue, which prevents modernization. He proposed also to prepare joint European-Russian projects to strengthen local areas, which are regularly brain drained and therefore divested of the chances for modernization.
According to Prof. Grzegorz Kolodko, a director of TIGER research centre and a former minister of finance, the biggest problem of today's Russia is the reliance of its economy on sale of energy. In his opinion, it can be compared to a curse put upon this country. Still 20 years ago the Russian GDP was three times higher than the national product of China, today it is the opposite because Russia is short of development pressure and it does not take advantage of its huge human potential. Meanwhile China must develop, even though it does not have resources. Russia, in turn, has enormous raw material resources and it can afford only a moderate economic growth. In the same time China, India, Brazil and even Poland move forward.
Jose Antonio Perez Tapias, Deputy Speaker of the Spanish Parliament, departed a little from economic judgements of the current situation in Russia, devoting the main part of his speech to human rights. In his opinion economic modernization of Russia is not possible without observation of civil liberties and freedom of speech, which means that economic modernization has not chances of success without democratic modernization. In his view, modernization without democracy resembles the Chinese model, which is known to pose many risks, for the natural environment, among other things.
The year of 2010 proved relatively successful for the administration of the Russian Federation in terms of overcoming the effects of the financial-economic crisis and solution of problems of the regime stability.
In the political sphere the unity of the ruling establishment was ensured and the government office groups observed "the rules of decent conduct". This was largely facilitated by bthe coordinated "team" play of both representatives of "the tandem": Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev preferred maintaining peace and consensus in their bilateral relations despite the attempts of certain representatives of their teams to stir up competition between them. At the same time we should note that such a consolidated position of the "top persons" multiplied by the relative effectiveness of the political and social-economic line allowed creation pre-election conditions that are quite comfortable for the power. Its positions are obviously winning compared to those of their opponents, which was demonstrated by the spring and autumn electoral campaigns that were
confidently won by the Unified Russia. At the end of the year, however, there came a ring that was quite alarming for the power and related to the sharp exacerbation of interethnic relations in the country. Besides, another potentially grave problem is the growing latent "irrational" protest sentiments related to the so-called "moral depreciation" of the power and lack of its "upgrade", at least a "facelift" one.
In economy the year of 2010 passed under the sign of forced negotiation of crisis phenomena; the more so, attempts were made to reach new horizons in terms of innovative development of the RF that were, however, impeded by lack of the necessary legal base, insufficiency of foreign investments and "meanness" of foreign partners in terms of "technological openness". In addition, significant breakthroughs were made in the principal energy sphere (this especially refers to promotion of the projects of the Nord and South Streams).
The regional policy demonstrated the power's intention to conduct staff rotation in the "governor corps" on the eve of the electoral cycle. On the one hand, this was aimed at getting rid of the problem of "heavyweights' Fronde" (Yu. Luzhkov, M. Shaimiev, M. Rakhimov), and, on the other hand, at optimization of local administration.
Finally, the foreign policy of Russia in 2010 was characterized by quite a marked "West tilt". It was largely related to the desire of the RF government to gain recognition of its membership in the "global joint-stock society" from the USA and the United Europe and to the hopes for Western assistance in the process of technological re-equipment of domestic economy. However, Russia failed to get "reciprocity" from the partners. On the whole the year of 2010 prepared the grounds for Russia's entry into the new electoral cycle in quite favourable conditions.
One can forecast that despite the pre-election frenzy the system segment of domestic policy will maintain a certain stability and observance of "the rules of the game" while the political system will be able to bear the election "load". Although formally the election process will prove to be rather tough, it will hardly result either in any "shocks" or even in any substantial political turbulence. On the one hand, this is ensured by the persisting high ratings of trust in the power, and on the other hand by lack of any serious institutionalized opponents of the power. Therefore, the key players (both the government office groups and political parties as well as civil society institutions) will prefer following the political situation and will not make any attempts "to rock the boat". Moreover the
activity of the majority of them will be hedged about with expectations of some impulses "from above" concerning the "transit-2012" and the power general line after the end of the electoral cycle. At the same time "the ruling class" should expect internal and external "non-system" challenges. In particular, the sphere of interethnic relations is unlikely to stabilize, with the growing pressure upon the power "from below": the native population of "Russian cities" will demand that the power should protect their interests in completion with "the Caucasians" while national diasporas, on the contrary, will appeal to principles of tolerance and provision of equal rights. Although the government of the country will take "a compromise position", there is a possibility of the variant of soft exploitation of the "patriotic" attitudes of citizens of "Russian regions" for electoral purposes. One may quite logically expect that foreign counterparts will try to take advantage of the pre-election situation in 2011 and their activity in weakening the ruling regime of the RF will appear quite diverse: from encouraging protest sentiments to diplomatic pressure to make Russia's administration sacrifice national interests.
In the run-up for the elections the economy will maintain a certain stability largely ensured by high prices of energy resources. At the same the power will continue an active social policy stimulating the population with "electoral" bonuses, compensations and donations. The challenges of the economic sphere in 2011 may be only related to the turbulence on the international financial markets.
The relations between the federal Center and the regions will be also relatively quiet. By all appearances, in 2011 the Center will set a moratorium on any staff reshuffles conditioned by the need for electoral stabilization of the governors community. The power will also make exceptionally intensive actions to ensure high results of the Unified Russia in the prerun regional elections. The challenges of destabilization will be traditionally related with the North Caucasian region; however, the power will succeed in keeping the situation under control even in such problem subjects as Ingushetia and Dagestan by combining force measures and the tactics of "buying loyalty".
Russia: Report on Transformation - analysis of economic and political situation in Russia.
- Russia 2008
Report on Transformation (pdf 1,56MB)
- Russia 2006
Report on Transformation (pdf 1,16MB)
- Russia 2005
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- Russia 2004
Report on Transformation
- Russia 2002
Report on Transformation