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After Primakov readings (Part 1)
22 December 2016

The international conference “Primakov readings” took place on the 28-30th of November at the World trade center where the leading Russian and foreign politicians, academics and experts gathered. 

All the planned sessions went over the allotted time as the topics were too important for the short timeframe. Prominent presenters came from all over the world: from the United

States, the European counties, the Asia – and talked about the challenges facing every country and about the necessity for the expert community and the state to join forces in formulating considered measures to save piece and restore trust between countries. 

We gathered the most colorful quotes of prominent foreign experts (from France, Poland, the USA) who confirm that in spite of all differences the reasonable solutions have to prevail over the political ambitions.

Panel session
“New norm of international security for polycentric world order”

Dr. Thomas Gomart – Director of IFRI. He previously was its Vice President for Strategic development and the Director of its Russia/CIS Center. His academic and professional background has been closely related to post-Soviet space. But also to winder international issues (security, energy and digital governance). As researcher he is currently working on Russia, digital governance, country risk and think tanks.

“In my view, we are facing somewhat of a strategic confusion which is related to the complexity of the international system, but is also related to the fact that some, actors, or state actors, are voluntarily fueling this strategic confusion”.

“The state-to-state relationship, to an extent, is the most dangerous at the time being, but certainly the most manageable given the fact that we have tools, diplomacy, statecraft, but indeed it is something quite dangerous at the time being”.

“Regarding the United Nations Security Council, is the use of NATO at the expense of the civilization population. The situation in Aleppo is a problem for all of us if we believe that militarism still makes sense”.

“I’m not sure if they are revisionist powers, but for sure China, Russia and the US, pretend to be more sovereign than others. And that is a problem because at the same time, they are less and less attractive for others. We have a special responsibility... China and Russia put together represent 90% of the worldwide nuclear arsenal. I insist on that because I do believe that, regarding the current crisis between the West and Russia, the nuclear dimension, a tactical one, is underestimated… These 3 countries have special responsibility and they have to protect, normally, international law”.

“If we focus briefly on the main state-to-state relationships at the time being, there is one where we should allocate much more political resources, which is the situation between Saudi Arabia and Iran because this is at the core of the confrontation in the Middle East. And that, we have good news with the Iran nuclear agreement in July 2015, which can be seen as a sort of example for what can be done by external powers when they want to work jointly”.

Adam Rotfeld Daniel – Visiting professor, Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland (2005). In 1990-2002 Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI); member of the UN SG’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters in 2006-2011 (chaired the ABDM in 2008)/ Member o European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR). Author of many works on Russian and Eurasian affairs. Co-chairman of Russian-Polish Group for difficult Issues. 

“The perspective of global powers, is quite different than those who are not global powers. Those who are not global powers, are very often, not only diminished, marginalized, but often ignored. This is one of the problems in the situation that it is now, and why the system does not reflect properly, the composition of the Security Council. Yes, the Security Council does not reflect the new reality more than 70 years after the end of the second World War, but I would like to say that it is not very formal, formalistic, legal problem. It is a problem that is much deeper.”

“Many people are confronted with new, totally unknown situations, and to some extend this is true, but only to some extent. Some problems were seen by many, including myself, 25 years ago… Inequality connected to the simple fact that future conflict will not be between the states, but within the states”.

“The whole international system, is oriented and designed to resolve problems between the states. The only document in Europe which was from the very beginning, meant as a document to respond to the new realities… It was a pedish/pretty/Spanish charter for a New Europe… This document is simply forgotten. Why was it forgotten?... There is a need for a political will, and this political will is defined by politicians who are very often, emotional, and emotions are not included in the political analysis because it is very difficult to include. They are very ambitious, and these personal ambitions play a very important role in all that we know.” 

“Europe, to the great extent, is norm oriented, procedures, institutions, etc., but, all of that is not, in many other countries, appreciated highly.”

Prof. Robert Legvold is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University? Where he specialized in the international relation of the post-Soviet states. In 2008-2010 he was project director for “Rethinking U.S. Police towards Russia” and currently he is the director of the national project “Meeting the Challenge of the New Nuclear Era” at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2009-2012   prof. Legvold was the director of the “Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative” co-chaired by Sam Nunn, Wolfgang Ischinger and Igor Ivanov. He is the author of the book “managing the New Cold War:  What Moscow and Washington can learn from the last one.

“For the first time in my life, I am genuinely fearful for the future. Maybe in a different way from this panel, not about the immediate future, the next few years because I think that we will muddle through… I’m looking out at this audience, and I see a lot of young faces. I’m worried about the world that we’re in the process in creating for you. It won’t be my world, it’ll be your world.”

“We’re all sleepwalking. Our national leaders, our politicians, our media, and much of our expert community at this point. With a heavy focus on what has been happening recently, I think that we are sleepwalking because we are overwhelmed by the eruption of what is unexpected and what is sudden, a new perfect storm.”

“The real threat to the liberal international order comes from the rapid process of de-globalization that is driven by the rise of nationalism and protectionism in turn led by the losers of globalization, both within countries and between countries, I think particularly within countries.”

“The corrosive effect, the dark side of globalization - globalized terrorism, the dissolution of national identity and culture, the flows of desperate people and contaminants, from drugs to disease. The erosion of the liberal international order, in turn is merging with the second area of erosion, and that is the erosion of democratic legitimacy within established democracies. It has been building for some time in the dysfunction of government for dealing with deep seated, structural problems within society, but now suddenly erupting in a popular anti-establishment, anti-government rebellion and in the non-democracies, it is in the embrace of illiberalism as a better way proceed than the democratic path.”

“It’s most dramatic and pretentious manifestation at this point, was the election in my country and the new administration coming in with extraordinary pretentious implications for international politics… If this administration attempts to move toward what I would call “Stark Real Politik,” they described it in other ways, and abandoned the traditional role of traditional US leadership, rather than struggling as we should have been struggling, with the failures of the recent past, in the terms of US leadership, and that problem is how the United States exercises leadership in a way that, yes serves it national interests, but that at the same time it is exercised in a way that serves the needs and the desires of others.”