Alexei Malashenko is Research Director of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, Berlin, Germany; a member of the Research Council of the Carnegie Moscow Center and the chair of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s Religion, Society, and Security Program. He holds a Doctorate in History.
True, dialogue is unable to produce final solutions to global problems or achieve the triumph of world peace. But it is a mandatory condition for the coexistence of civilizations, cultures, peoples, and countries, of the West and the “Easts.”
Despite its geographical remoteness from conflicts involving radical Islamists, the Russian Far East is not completely isolated from them. Preventing the growth of extremist threats in the Russian Far East and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole requires joint efforts of all states concerned.
Attempts by Putin’s Russia for rapprochement with the Moslem world have not allayed mutual distrust. Both Moscow and the Moslem capitals seem to view their mutual sympathy as a showoff of unity, and as a way to confuse the West and perhaps even make it resentful, as neither party has been successful in romancing it.
Russia’s attitude to Islam and Muslims also fits into the general context of xenophobia that in the first half of the 1990s was considered to be a hangover of post-totalitarian thinking; 10 years later, however, it has turned into a core element of the public consciousness.
The relations between the Moslem community and the West are being put to a serious and, possibly, final test. The world is only now approaching a true dialog between the two civilizations. The essence of this dialog is quite specific: what can the Moslem community and Islam borrow from the West without losing its identity?
Presently, the ‘Islamic threat’ to the ruling regimes in Central Asia is nonexistent: the Islamists are not prepared to take certain risks at a time when any measures against them would not be overly criticized in the world. However, the grounds for radical Islamic protests in the region still exist. There also remains the possibility that the existing Islamic organizations will survive, while new ones could emerge.
At a roundtable event in Moscow, top experts debated the “hypocritical” and “insincere” foreign policies of both Russia and the West in the post-Cold War era.
Vladimir Putin has mentioned several times that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a geopolitical mistake. Although these words were often interpreted as his desire to constitute that country, there is little reason to believe this.
The April 16 referendum will focus on power distribution rather than institution building. In other words, the organizers saw it as an opportunity to expand the President’s powers and allow him to rule longer. In their turn, Turks perceived it as an institutional choice to contribute to the development of the state.
If the larger picture defies prediction, the immediate future is scarcely more transparent. In the U.S. case, the known unknowns are numerous. They begin with the question of how much deck furniture Trump is willing to overturn in order to pursue an “America First” strategy.
In the wake of the For Fair Elections protest movement in Russia in 2011-2012, the Kremlin initiated a new strategy of state-society relations that was aimed at diminishing the propensity for protest in the next election cycle.
Belarus’ traditional structural dependence on Russia is increasing, and Minsk’s freedom of maneuver continues to shrink.