samedi, 05 septembre 2015
The Big Five, Eurasian Security and Other Projects
The Big Five, Eurasian Security and Other Projects
By Leonid Savin
Back in 2001, a leading analyst of the American banking company Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Jim O'Neill, used the acronym BRIC to describe the growing economies. Though he had used it in the context of a global neoliberal paradigm, Russia "coopted" the term, proposing Brazil, India and China to build up a multilateral cooperation. In a relatively short period, much has been done to develop mechanisms of interaction. Later, South Africa joined the four countries (and the acronym BRICS came to life).
Now, the five countries, which hold 26% of the planet's land area, represent 42% of the world population and generate 27% of the world GDP, are considered to be the new collective actor of the multipolar world based on the principle of decentralization and the ability to respond to the challenges of the XXI century. As the Russian Foreign Minister Deputy Sergei Ryabkov, in his briefing at the BRICS/SCO Summits in Ufa on July 9, 2015, said, "the practice of the BRICS has no precedent in international politics," and the group of states has become "an important factor in international relations." The BRICS is gradually becoming the new "Big Eight", but only on the basis of equality, transparency and consensus among all members.
The last summit in Ufa showed that the informal tone in which the cooperation was based did not prevent the creation of a full-fledged international association, more democratic than other alliances of the past century. In Ufa, a plan for future actions was approved─a kind of summary of BRICS' matrix operation of the near future. It includes a declaration of finalities, the strategy of the economic partnership and announces the opening of a virtual department─the official BRICS' website, which will publish official documents and relevant materials. The BRICS Bank was launched and a pool of foreign exchange reserves was formed. Their combined capital is 200 billion dollars. The first financed projects will take place in the spring of 2016, not limited to the five countries, but holding a global character. Essentially, it is a financial alternative to the International Monetary Fund of the Rothschilds, making investments in needed sectors of the countries' real economy, and not conducting speculative transactions and providing onerous loans, as do foreign banks, stock exchanges and funds.
Also, amongst the BRICS countries cooperation will be reinforced in financial and economic matters. Particularly, the director of the European and Central Asian Affairs Gui Congyou noted that Russia is a priority to Chinese investments, which will be made not only in infrastructure but in the construction of affordable housing and high technology as well.
The year of the Russian chairmanship of the BRICS has been very dynamic. As the President of Russia Vladimir Putin said on July 9 "in the year of the Russian presidency we have conducted the first meetings for BRICS' Civil, Parliament, and Youth forums. The creation of the BRICS Network University is in process as much as the establishment of the Council of Regions of our organization."
It should be added that the cooperation is happening now not only in the financial and economic fields of the block: ministerial meetings have been held on health, education, agriculture, taxation, science and technology, social security, communications, labor and employment and culture. Increasing co-ordination between the countries affected virtually all acute international issues, from regional conflicts and threats of narcotraffic to the space sector and maritime piracy. For this, all techniques that can make multilateral relations bureaucratic were deliberately avoided. The leaders of all the BRICS countries agreed on the opinion that the current anti-bureaucratic format must be kept henceforth.
This indicates the civilian side of the BRICS likewise. The issue, addressed at the summit in Ufa, was also discussed in the eve of the forum in Moscow with the participation of experts. In particular, through the BRICS Business Council many agreements were reached, while union leaders gave their recommendations to the BRICS' Heads of State. The Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, Mikhail Shmakov, at a meeting with Vladimir Putin, also signaled the necessity to avoid any methods of neo-liberalism, who is to blame for all the world's current crises. This is an important observation showing that the BRICS is in consensus on the level of political ideology, one that will guide the participating countries.
The BRICS can also be regarded as a club where members follow the principle of reciprocity. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a larger format meeting of BRICS leaders indicated the importance of completing a reform in the UN and its Security Council. According to him, this will help to more effectively respond to any calls. Quite telling was the statement of the Indian leader about sanctions─that only UN sanctions have power, while all the rest is the attempt of some countries to dictate their terms, which is unacceptable. Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, also raised the issue of UN reform and the readiness to participate in various projects from harmonization of migration flows to climate change control.
It is significant that other countries are showing an increased interest in the BRICS. For example, at the financial forum BRICS/SCO, which took place on June 8, the vice-president of the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey Çiğdem İçel was also present; furthermore, the formal participation of the SCO's Heads of State at the BRICS Summit as guests greatly enhanced the status of the event. However, apart from the official agenda, the leaders could communicate in an informal setting, discussing a number of issues that are equally important for building a trusting partnership.
The West behaved on its characteristic manner of double standards and information war. For example, Bloomberg's publication was totally manipulated, as if the aggregate BRICS economy had almost caught up with the US economy. This is not true, once according to the IMF China alone has surpassed the United States already in 2014; the Council on Foreign Relations, speaking more realistically, pointed out that the BRICS is going to reduce the influence of the West. Stratfor added that the BRICS and the SCO have evolved to a sort of platform in order to deploy resistance against the United States. Ostensibly, USA analysts have not heard or did not want to hear the repeated statements of the first persons and ministers that the BRICS is not directed against any state or power, having an open agenda. Similarly, the SCO was established to resolve issues of regional security in Eurasia, as well as to engage in energy production and the creation of transport corridors.
But, of course, the two structures will adequately respond to the attempts of undermining sovereignty or interference in internal affairs. At the summit, the Chinese and Russian sides have time and again stated the importance of preserving historical justice and the need for immediate response to any efforts in rewriting history and justifying such phenomena as fascism and Nazism.
The SCO summit, happening immediately after the events of the BRICS on the same site, was also marked by important decisions. For the first time in the existence of the organization the reception of new members, India and Pakistan, took place. In addition, there was an agreement in the raising of the participation status of the Republic of Belarus to that of a SCO observer State. In the quality of partners of the organization's dialogue, joined Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal. At one of the briefings in Ufa, a Western journalist raised the question of the various problems between India and Pakistan and how they could cooperate, if differences and the potential for conflict remained. The point is that the SCO is working on a completely different paradigm than the West, which adheres to the school of political realism, with practices of elements such as deterrence, confrontation, conflict of interests and so forth. The SCO is developing an entirely new approach to collective security, while respecting interests and the sovereignty of all members of the organization. It is likely that, through this format, it could even be able to help normalizing relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Very important is the fact that the adhesion of India and Pakistan to the SCO makes of this a four-nuclear-power alliance. Uzbek President Islam Karimov added that this could change the balance of forces in the world. Not less relevant is the question of the future membership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. While Tehran is under UN sanctions, it is not possible. But, as said by the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, Iran has made significant progress in talks between the six countries and we can expect that in the near future this problem will be solved─if only the West does not try to review the framework agreements reached earlier, as has happened on previous stages.
At the SCO summit a program of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and separatism in the years 2016-2018 was also approved (it is worth noticing that, by then, the direction of the Executive Committee of the SCO will be on the hands of Russia) and the development of the SCO Convention on Combating Extremism was started, as well as the establishment of the Center for Counteraction to Threats and Challenges to Security of the SCO member states on the basis of the Regional Antiterrorist Structure (RATS). The terrorist organization "Islamic State" was reputed as a serious threat and all SCO members reiterated their intention to combat it and other international extremists.
The development strategy of the SCO to 2025 was accepted and Ufa Declaration for SCO, adopted. The strategy says that the SCO will work "in favor of the construction of a polycentric democratic system of international relations," referring also to the foundation of an indivisible security space. Also important are the designated principles and values of states and peoples, wherein the historical features and identity of all Member States are taken into account.
In his speech dedicated to the results of the two summits, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed that work is ongoing "to create the SCO Development Bank and the SCO Development Fund (Special Account). The idea of having institutions on the basis of the SCO Interbank Association of the International Center of Project Financing is very promising." In addition, the Russian leader called for more active use of the SCO possibilities inherent to the BRICS.
But apart from the pair BRICS-SCO, there is a lot of regional projects that will naturally join both formats. So, the leaders of Russia and China declared that they are ready to work closely on the implementation of the two projects of integration─the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt. Added to that, there are trilateral relationships, such as Russia-Mongolia-China. On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, the leaders of the three countries settled to intensify works on a variety of fronts─from the creation of infrastructure projects to cultural and information activities. As the chairman of the government of China Xi Jinping put, "it is necessary to form a community of mutual destiny and promote multipolarity."
The BRICS will also coordinate the defense of their position within the Group of Twenty (G20). Besides, this platform will be used for different projects within the BRICS and the G20 summit in November this year, to be held in Turkey, continuing to discuss the preparation of the bank and other tasks identified in the Ufa Declaration.
All this automatically means that any try of external manipulation, even under plausible pretexts (for example, USA is actively promoting the project of a New Silk Road), will be doomed to failure. And the world with the assistance of the BRICS and the SCO will be more secure and harmonious.