Valdai Club: on political stability in Eurasia
BSSB.BE Valdai Club 19/12/2018
* As International Order Crumbles, Dialogue Is Crucial for Restoring Trust
A decade ago, it was difficult to imagine a heated discussion on the growing role of Russia in the Middle East and in the world as a whole. However, today Russia successfully combines many roles:
- from that of a peacemaker to that of a power center, which many are interested in, and all the players are ready to talk to.
- Over the past 18 years, the Doha Forum has attracted to the capital of Qatar leading regional players, as well as representatives of international organizations, expert and business communities. This year, the Russian expert community was represented for the first time, by the Valdai Discussion Club.
The international order is at risk of breaking up. International relations require strong universally acceptable international institutions and rules. But both elements – the institutions and the rules –are currently at risk.
For example, in the European theatre we have seen a breakdown of what we thought were the established and accepted rules. In Western Europe, we believe that what happened in Ukraine is an unfortunate process, which undermines what was agreed already in 1990 as the basis of the European security order.
In the Middle East, we see very similar things, we see a war in Syria, which is now in its seventh year and which the Security Council cannot resolve. We see a war in Yemen, which is one of the most dramatic violations of the international law, because hundreds of thousands of children are at the risk of dying and, once again, the international community, the Security Council and regional organizations, are not strong enough to resolve it.
Therefore, what we need is to strengthen and re-establish a European security architecture, which is accepted by all, of course, including the Russian Federation, and we need at least the beginning of a security architecture for the Middle East. And that again requires an agreement between Russia, the European Union and other actors, for example, Turkey and probably the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia as the major players.
There is a lot of work ahead, and that is why the Munich Security Conference is so active on both fronts – in Europe and the Middle East – because there are enormous risks and uncertainties, and there is also an almost total lack of mutual trust, for example, between the US and Russia, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as between some other players in the region. Moreover, this lack of trust carries the risk of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and possibly of unintended escalation, which is not good. That is what we need to change.
The numerous guests of the Club’s session, titled “Russia’s Evolving Global Role”, focused not only on the expected questions about Syria, but also on the prospects and future moves of Moscow in the region. As Vitaly Naumkin, Academic Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said, Russia returned to the region after the “coffee break” of the 1990s, and the difficulties it faced made its policy more efficient. Moreover, this return is justified not only by the fight against terrorism, but also by the fact that it is the Middle East that becomes the driver of changes of the global order.
Finally, the interaction between Russia and the United States continues to attract attention in the region, remaining a source of misunderstanding. According to Paul Saunders, Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest, in some areas, the US “overestimates” the power of Russia, for example, its “ability to influence political systems,” and in others, its role is underestimated.
No country in the region wants to make a choice between the two powers, but all seek to benefit from interaction with them. That is why it would be more logical to solve the problems of such an “unpredictable” region together or at least using dialogue with each other.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: Valdai Club