Crisis as a Catalyst

7 june 2009

Fyodor Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

Resume: The global economic crisis remains the focus of everyone’s attention, but the panic of late last year has given way to a sober analysis. The world has not been turned upside down and the problems caused by the crisis have only become catalysts of processes that had begun to take shape long before the autumn of 2008.

© "Russia in Global Affairs". № 2, April - June 2009

The global economic crisis remains the focus of everyone’s attention, but the panic of late last year has given way to a sober analysis. The world has not been turned upside down and the problems caused by the crisis have only become catalysts of processes that had begun to take shape long before the autumn of 2008.

The contributors to this issue are trying to understand how the changes in the economic situation could affect Russia’s development prospects. Dmitry Furman discusses the now popular subject of the prospects for the liberalization of Russian politics. Russian history has many examples of cyclical changes from harsh to soft regimes and vice versa. But as long as the impulse for change comes from the top rather than reflecting the demands of society, there will be no chance for a real democratic system in Russia.

Alexander Auzan believes that the crisis has put an end to the era of a tacit social contract that has existed in Russia de facto since the early 2000s, set up according to the formula “well-being in exchange for civil rights.” The active participation of civil society in efforts to overcome economic problems is a guarantee of the country’s further development. Dmitry Badovsky views the prospects for Russia’s modernization in light of a deepening decline. Vladimir Shveitser analyzes the transformation of the party system in post-Soviet Russia and concludes that the present model is vulnerable, especially amid economic problems.

The chairman of Russia’s Constitutional Court, Valery Zorkin, draws the readers’ attention to legal challenges caused by the global crisis. He warns about a threat to the civil, and especially social, rights of man, whose importance is usually underestimated.

Vladislav Inozemtsev warns against overestimating the scale of the global changes. In his view the leading Western economies, above all the United States, are capable of coping with the present situation, so there are no grounds to compare the present developments with the Great Depression.

Sergei Karaganov writes about the “unfinished history” of the 20th century. He argues that the page of the Cold War has never been turned, which prevents moving forward to meet the real dangers of the new century. Russia and the West need a new start. Dennis Kredler proposes discussing close integration between Russia and the European Union. Mikhail Troitsky analyzes the influence of “frozen conflicts” on Russian-U.S. relations and the prospects for U.S. policy. Hansj?rg Haber calls for co-operation in stabilizing the situation in the zone of confrontation in the Caucasus.

Alexander Lukin emphasizes the need for reinforcing the Asian vector of Russian foreign policy. He argues that Moscow, throughout the post-Soviet years, has put too much focus on its relations with the West, while overlooking processes that are unfolding east of its borders. Sergei Luzyanin discusses the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Russian foreign policy. He believes that the SCO has a great potential for development and is becoming quite an influential regional organization.

Vassily Belozyorov warns about potential conflicts that may stem from the competition for water resources. This problem is particularly acute in Central Asia. Jahangir Karami offers an Iranian view of problems in the region. Alexander Ignatenko analyzes U.S. policy vis-?-vis the Islamic world, pointing out that a majority of the problems has been caused by Washington’s policy over the last few decades.

Last updated 7 june 2009, 22:05

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