#15 - JRL 7137
[translation from RIA Novosti for personal use only]
RUSSIA HAS A FUTURE OF ITS OWN
The United States has damaged the entire system of international relations, after unleashing its war against Iraq. Many analysts would like to try and predict subsequent global developments. The US national intelligence council has recently prepared a report dealing with global-development trends until the year 2015. Among other things, this document predicts the Russian situation. This forecast is not very optimistic, to put it mildly. We asked professors Alexei PODBEREZKIN and Yuri BULATOV from the Russian Foreign Ministry's Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), as well as Maj.-Gen. Yuri LEBEDEV, coordinator of the group "Generals and Admirals for Peace and Security," to comment on this report.
First of all, we would like to note that it's possible and necessary to study global processes and to predict global trends, as well as their consequences, for the world and specific countries. The relevant US experience seems to be rather successful. However, the US side doesn't provide enough information about Russia; this highlights Washington's perception of Russia's role and its involvement in globalization processes. In a nutshell, US experts draw two conclusions.
In principle, many Russian experts agree with the report's first conclusion to the effect that our country's gross domestic product (GDP) will be growing at a rate of 5 percent each year, in case present-day national trends persist. By the way, Russian GDP growth rates are even less impressive today. As a result, Russia would retain its marginal status; nor will it be considered a serious rival.
The second conclusion is as follows - Russia's future is determined by the efficiency of its political and public leadership. One also finds it hard to disagree with this conclusion. Moreover, we would like to add that, in our opinion, the hopelessly inadequate state-administration system of the last few decades has resulted in the current unprecedented national crisis. Unfortunately, this subject doesn't seem to be very popular among researchers today, becoming hostage to ideological and political clashes.
It should be mentioned in this connection that the Russian President's economic adviser Andrei Illarionov suggests that the state should account for just 25 percent of the entire GDP; consequently, 8-percent annual growth rates would be posted. It goes without saying that the state's share should be scaled down in line with specific priorities, rather than proportionately. At the same time, one has every reason to say that an unprecedented revision of specific political-administration methods is needed.
Unlike US experts, the authors of this article believe that Russia can and must use hitherto untapped resources for the sake of ensuring its own fast-paced development. Their list includes material resources, moral and spiritual resources, as well as the will-power factor. Russia, which has all these resources, either uses them inadequately or fails to use them at all. One finds it pretty hard to extrapolate national economic-development trends (if such trends do manifest themselves). Still the authors are convinced that economic-development rates will increase drastically, rather than by 5 percent each year.
What particular resources are we talking about? Let's single them out. First of all, we would like to mention those tremendous state assets, which are being used rather ineffectively. Moreover, the efficacy of using such assets remains to be assessed in some cases. A mere inventory of such property, as well as efforts to gauge its cost-effective use, can yield tens of billions of dollars.
Furthermore, a system of state financial control (that won't depend on the executive branch) should be established, monitoring financial flows at federal, regional and municipal level.
We also need an effective anti-corruption system. Prominent oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky estimates that the Russian business community has to spend $30 billion in bribes each year. The Prosecutor-General's Office published a report dealing with national law and order last year. That document mentions various economic sectors being plagued by systematic embezzlement. At the same time, independent experts admit that the afore-mentioned report lacks the most important aspect - it doesn't analyze Russian corruption in a comprehensive manner. Meanwhile any comprehensive anti-corruption operations are impossible without such analysis.
Popular savings increased by almost 50 percent last year, topping the 1-trillion-rouble mark; we should also use these savings accordingly.
Moreover, local wages, which are 30-40 times lower than those in Europe and the United States, have to be raised drastically, subsequently going through the roof. Inadequate wages mean that the people of Russia are unable to take advantage of specific education opportunities; nor can they realize their own potential. The same can be said about information access. Positive changes in this sphere can boost economic growth many times over.
We also believe that the production sector can improve drastically, if all national resources are activated. Quantum leaps also seem distinctly possible here. Mind you, some hi-tech sectors already chalk up 10-plus percent annual growth rates. For instance, the Russian guidance systems agency keeps expanding production at a rate of more than 13 percent a year. We would like to emphasize the fact that this is happening without any substantial federal assistance. These rapidly growing sectors utilize old-fashioned equipment, employing "elderly" workers; nor do they get enough money.
Most importantly, Russia must use all available material and natural resources in the interests of science-and-technical development. Russia boasts a unique advantage over other countries in terms of its hydrocarbon deposits, hydrocarbon- production volumes and sales. These resources can meet nationwide fuel-and-energy demand, also providing ample financial opportunities for fast-paced production-sector development. The initiative of Russia's YUKOS company acquires special importance in this connection. People may treat this company differently; still one should keep in mind that YUKOS has helped train 30,000 teachers over the last three years. At the same time, Microsoft of the United States has trained just 10,000 teachers. This highlights a tremendous development potential.
And now we would like to say a few words about long-term trends in the field of international relations.
More pronounced globalization processes tend to influence international relations at this stage. As a result, many countries are becoming inclined to enhance the state's role, i.e. the so-called statist ideology. This is happening despite a widespread belief to the effect that globalization inevitably weakens and abolishes state institutions. This trend hasn't yet won public acclaim; nonetheless, it is highlighted by practical political activity on the part of the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France, first and foremost. This trend is also being manifested in China to an even greater extent. Looks like, this trend, which highlights the reaction of sovereign countries to the new stage of globalization, can hardly be called a mere coincidence. First of all, it attests to the fact that the struggle against the state, rather than Communism, in the Soviet Union and Russia mostly ran counter to the above-mentioned main trend. Second, modern Russia has to establish an effective state machinery and state institutions, perceiving this as its top-priority objectives.
Furthermore, the United States will continue to play the part of a global leader until the year 2015. Not a single big power will be able to vie with the United States until then. Speaking about the US military potential and Washington's readiness to use this potential for attaining foreign-policy goals, one can say that this political instrument will be used more actively, playing an even more important role. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has described the following trend - traditional strategic alliances are now history. According to Ivanov, separate countries or groups of countries no longer confront each other all over the world. At the same time, international relations are marked by such a powerful consolidating factor as the need to cope with global threats and challenges, which affect the entire international community's security interests. In his opinion, this creates pre-requisites for establishing wide-ranging international coalitions, which aim to solve specific problems, and which are not intended to counter-balance or confront other states. The global anti- terrorist coalition, which emerged after the September 11, 2001 tragedy, and which was facilitated by solidarity with the United States, is the most convincing example of this. Ivanov believes that this coalition can become an element of the 21-st century global-security system, provided that it hinges on international cooperation and the UN's central coordinating role.
We believe that this trend will be enhanced still further.
The economic potential of EU countries will continue to increase, thus facilitating their greater political ambitions. Such ambitions will be backed by their growing economic might. A stronger Euro could serve as an alternative to the dollar. In the meantime greater European political ambitions, as well as Europe's more impressive economic and financial might, won't be bolstered by an adequate military potential. This concerns state-of-the-art weapons and combat hardware, in the first place. Moreover, Europe will be relying more heavily on the US defense industry. Therefore we believe that one should not expect Europe to become an alternative military-political center of power.
A united Europe might offer some tough competition to the United States, China and Japan only if it joins hands with Russia. As we see it, this factor is being increasingly comprehended by the ruling elite of big-league European countries, as well as by officials of European institutions. However, real-life developments also depend on Russia, as well as on its readiness to meet the EU halfway.
There is no denying the fact that the world's countries are trying to counter US influence ever more actively. This is highlighted by the Arab world's position, in the first place. Moreover, similar "resistance centers" can appear elsewhere, that is, in South-East Asia, South Asia and, maybe, even Central Europe.
International organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations, whose influence will continue to grow, can also play the part of possible "resistance centers." Furthermore, more pronounced centripetal trends are being manifested on post-Soviet territory, as former Soviet republics restore their mutual ties. This is particularly true of the Russia-Belarus-Ukraine-Kazakhstan conglomerate. One should admit that this process is largely facilitated by human contacts, as well as by the growing comprehension of the fact that a unilateral pro-US orientation is erroneous. East European countries will once again find themselves inside Russia's political sphere of influence, albeit to some extent. Naturally enough, both processes will take place only if the Russian political elite pays serious attention to them.
China's assertion as a super-power can seriously influence the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the entire world.
India is yet another giant. This country, which keeps implementing a fast-paced science-and-technical revolution, and which also maintains traditional contacts with the Anglo-Saxon world, can become an international hi-tech off-shore zone.
For its own part, Iran can go nuclear, thus creating yet another seat of tensions.
In our opinion, those uneven globalization processes facilitate more pronounced differences between separate countries and regions. This is an extremely important factor. Moreover, any given country is marked by snow-balling contradictions between financial, hi-tech and state-power centers and "outlying" regions. The uneven development of specific countries leads to the appearance and consolidation of regional interests of individual states, as well as the appearance and consolidation of regional alliances, unions and organizations. In some cases, this process can, sort of, run counter to international interests or those of separate great powers.
On the whole, the prospects for global-development trends (until the year 2015) don't make one very optimistic. Quite possibly, mankind is now entering a period that will, most likely, be marked by lack of peace, stability, law and order. Besides, only one super-power is going to dominate the world. This prediction is often linked with rampant international terrorism. Still this is not the whole truth. Frankly speaking, current instability is being caused by uneven globalization processes and their anti-social essence. Lack of an effective international mechanism also serves to explain this problem just because all previous international organizations, i.e. the UN, the OSCE (Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe), etc., were established during the initial globalization stage and in an entirely different situation.
The relevant model of Russia's involvement in globalization process is seen as an issue of principled importance. The national political leadership, as well as Russia's main political forces, should make a decision of principle concerning this country's role in globalization processes and its involvement in these processes. Russia can develop in line with the following two scenarios during the next 10-15 years (in conditions of globalization).
The seemingly favorable inertial scenario implies that the nationwide situation will develop in line with specific trends of the 2000-2003 period. In other words, Russia won't fall apart; nor will its economy collapse. However, there will be no noticeable economic recovery; nor will the situation improve considerably. Russia would thus be marginalized still further, turning into one big Portugal-style country. Still one should comprehend the fact that such a weak country would prove unable to control its vast territory.
On the other hand, the other option implies that annual GDP growth could be boosted drastically to 15 and even more percent. The Russian economy must be restructured, with its hi-tech sector growing more quickly. Political, administrative and institutional reforms should by all means be completed.