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BRICS, SCO look sound alternatives to Russia’s strategic partnership with West - experts

June 10, 2015, 19:38 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
BRICS leaders

BRICS leaders

MOSCOW, June 10. /TASS/. The period of Russia’s "strategic partnership" with the Euro-Atlantic community may be drawing to a close, as follows from what was said at Tuesday’s round-table meeting arranged by the Foreign and Defence Policy Council. The gist of the discussion entitled How to Preserve the Development Potential in the Context of Geo-Political Confrontation was: Russia is turning towards wider cooperation with its partners in the BRICS group and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

The deputy board chairman of Russia’s Vneshekonombank, former deputy economic development minister Andrey Klepach, believes the project of Russia’s European integration had plunged into crisis long before the current turmoil in Ukraine and the introduction of anti-Russian sanctions. "Europe has never regarded us as a full-fledged partner," he said.

"In the early 1990s Russia developed the delusion the light at the end of the tunnel was in the West. In reality we got the economic collapse of the 1991-1999. But even after that period Russia’s economic policies continued to be built on the very same liberal principles. Russia has joined the World Trade Organization and supported the ideas of a common market with the European Union and the creation of free trade zones. The crisis of Russia’s former euro-integration model will last a while," Klepach predicts.

At the same time Klepach acknowledged that Russia’s greatest trade was with the European Union countries and it will remain so for another ten years. Europe’s energy dependence on Russia will last till 2025. There remains the possibility of cooperation with the United States in space exploration and the struggle against the terrorist Islamic State. "Regrettably, the United States’ opportunities for cooperation with Russia will expand only with the worsening of the international situation," he said.

Germany’s federal chancellor, Angela Merkel, voiced a similar thought on Monday after the G7 summit in Bavaria. She recalled that the European Union was cooperating with Russia in overcoming the Syrian crisis and addressing Iran’s nuclear problem. At the same time she did not forget the prolongation of anti-Russian sanctions until full compliance with the Minsk Accords. In other words, the West permits opportunities for cooperation with Moscow only in crisis-stricken areas, and not in joint economic projects, which is well-seen in Brussels’ resistance to the laying of the Turkish Stream project across Europe.

In the run-up to the BRICS and SCO summit meetings in Bashkortostan’s capital Ufa due in July the round-table discussion focused on making Russia’s cooperation with these organizations more meaningful. Most speakers mentioned the joint projects with BRICS and SCO not as an alternative to strategic partnership with the West, but as an opportunity for a large share of humanity to make a technological breakthrough.

The BRICS countries account for 40% of the globe’s population and for 30% of the world economy, says chief GLONASS analyst Andrei Ionin. "It would be constructive to promote greater unity of the BRICS countries with an idea of technological alliance. This scenario will not be targeted against the United States or the European Union, but acceptable and fruitful for all," he said.

"The Western sanctions hit Russia’s sorest spot — the lack of advanced horizontal drilling know-hows and space and IT technologies," Ionin said. "BRICS are the non-Western states which are prepared to pay for their national interests. The pooling of resources, finance and competencies of the BRICS countries and joint development of technologies might let a large share of humanity to achieve a breakthrough into the future. For a start the BRICS group might launch a joint space project, for instance, the creation of a joint orbital station or a personal space communication system. Too bad we are late to make this proposal at the BRICS summit in Ufa," Ionin regrets.

"Time is ripe for the BRICS countries to start generating ideas and technological products," says the deputy CEO of the Russian Venture Company, Yevgeny Kuznetsov.

"Whereas the Euro-Atlantic community regards itself as a ‘golden billion’, the BRICS countries are humanity’s three silver billions," says lecturer at the Moscow state institute of international relations MGIMO, Oleg Barabanov. The BRICS countries, he believes, might benefit a great deal from the idea the honorary president of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council, Sergey Karaganov, proposed at a meeting of the international discussion club Valdai. Karaganov came out with a proposal for creating what he called as Greater Central Eurasia, with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization playing the key role, in particular, after the SCO has admitted two new members — India and Iran.

Coupling China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project and the Eurasian Economic Union may yield great mutual benefits for all participating countries. The West finds this possibility worrisome, and with this in mind it has been trying to throw the BRICS and the SCO groups off balance. But these efforts will reach nowhere, because both organizations are groups of sovereign states," Barabanov believes.

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