Opening Asia for Russia

19.12.2017 85 просмотров

Conversation with orientalist Alexei Maslov.


Alexey Maslov: "Block building on the example of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization"


– Alexey Maslov, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Professor Higher School of Economics, orientalist. The topic of today's broadcast is international organizations. Historically, they arose for completely different reasons. For example, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, they were created or spontaneously arose as military, and sometimes political or economic unions. But, as a rule, such formations were short-lived. At present, we can state a surge of interest in the activities of structures of this kind. They can be conditionally attributed to regional or other organizations isolated according to some principle. To what extent, in your opinion, is the spread of numerous new organizations really due to objective necessity?

– Let me remind you that block building has been going on throughout the 20th century. But in an earlier period, block building itself was simple, since the planet was divided into 2 parts: the world of capitalism and the world of socialism. The Soviet Union created its blocs, and the United States its own. And, in fact, to a certain extent, these blocs were appendages of the two largest countries. At the same time, China tried to cover the so-called Third World countries with an umbrella, playing a special role in the Non-Aligned Movement. Such was the status quo ante (lat. "state of affairs before"). But now these blocks have become much more complicated not only structurally, but, above all, thematically. In particular, today they are not subordinate to any one state, but are created according to the principle of communalism, that is, countries are united on the basis of a common interest or a common region.

This is how a new type of organizations of this kind arises. First came the SCO, and  Then came the BRICS. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization was launched in the late 1990s and early 2000s as an expression of the concern of the 5 founding countries (the Shanghai Five) who were trying in any way to resist the US presence in the Central Asian region. Let me remind you that at that time Central Asia was terribly in a fever: there were unrest in Tajikistan, instability of power structures in Kyrgyzstan... Of course, both China and Russia were extremely concerned about these destructive processes.

Therefore, in the first place, measures to ensure that countries can develop calmly and stably, and that American bases do not appear in Asia, including the so-called jump or refueling bases. Then there, of course, drug trafficking went up sharply, starting its spread from the territory of Afghanistan and further - & nbsp; across the border with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to China and Russia, which could not but cause at that time a certain & nbsp; concern. Therefore, the basic idea of creating the SCO was the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism. In those years it was in every possible way & nbsp; justified. 

In 2001, on these prerequisites, the SCO was formed, among already 6 countries. But the organization, which is based solely on the fight against any phenomenon, does not have a large energy resource. However,  The SCO anti-terrorist center showed good results. But still this was not enough. Hence the need to find any other ideas. In those years, the process began to stagnate. In this regard, I will clarify that, in my opinion, in the mid-2000s, the SCO was in decline precisely because economic projects simply did not take place. This is largely due to the fact that, from the point of view of the technology of the process, it is very difficult to build an economic project on a multilateral basis.

Having headed the SCO, Russia proposed a new agenda. According to the charter of this international organization, representatives of the participating countries in turn & nbsp; replace the chairmanship in rotation. I believe that the work plan proposed at that time was an absolutely correct undertaking. First, it was considered necessary to create a unified educational space. Then, in the wake of this reform, the SCO University appeared, which still operates today. This  a network university uniting more than 70 universities from 5 countries of the world. They are able to arrange the educational process in such a way that the student starts studying in one country, and then continues his studies in the second, later - in the third. Such is the spirit of the exchange educational process. The SCO also launched a discussion on issues related to water resources, security, and the fight against cyberterrorism. In other words, the SCO has begun a long-term search for solutions to problems, and not the development of point responses to momentary challenges. Thus, the emphasis was placed on the development of positive measures.

Today, as you know, the SCO is expanding:  India and Pakistan joined. Thus,  for the first time, a trans-regional association of states grew from a small regional organization. There is a huge leap in the development of the project.

At the moment, the most important thing is to show that, in addition to regional contradictions, there are also global challenges. Probably, the SCO is designed to become & nbsp; an organization that provides a platform for at least discussing problems.  Because, in fact, there are not enough such sites today. So the SCO is the very organization where, at least, one can frankly and harshly debate on a number of issues that concern all member countries.

Aleksey Maslov - doctor in History, Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, orientalist.


< p style="text-align: right;"> Alexey Maslov: "The SCO is gradually acquiring a new purpose for its existence, turning into a platform for discussing problems that cannot be resolved on a bilateral basis. BRICS has become an unviable organization, but it can still change "

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- I would like to dwell on the entry of India and Pakistan. These are not just countries in complex relationships. They are almost openly hostile, and the roots of the conflict go back centuries. In fact, these states are constantly on the verge  large scale conflict. It turns out that joining the SCO provides an additional security measure that can prevent an undesirable, but perhaps inevitable scenario of the development of events, if Pakistan and India remain alone with each other.

- I believe that, most likely, here it is necessary to proceed from a different message. & nbsp; The admission of Pakistan and India, when at the moment both Iran and a number of other countries are claiming to become permanent members of the SCO, is stimulating the development of the entire organization.

Moreover, this was not done in order for the two countries - Pakistan and India - liquidated contradictions between themselves. Unfortunately, their conflict is of a historical nature and will continue for at least several more centuries. 

In fact, the true question lies in a completely different thing: there is not a single problem in Asia now that would be definition of purely Asian! There is, for example, the problem of cyberterrorism, and China, then Russia, then India are blamed for it. Meanwhile, the solution lies in the need to convene a meeting to discuss the urgent problem - including with those countries that are accused of cyberterrorism of others. After all, there are whole groups of terrorists - not cyber-terrorists, but real ones who carry out terrorist attacks in one territory and immediately move to another country, successfully hiding there.
 
drug trafficking. On this occasion, it should be noted that the following scenario usually works in Asia: drug components (precursors) are imported from some countries, the final product is produced in others, and is already sold in third! Accordingly, it is no longer possible to confine ourselves to discussions on a bilateral basis, as in the past. As a result, the SCO is gradually acquiring a new purpose for its existence. It consists in putting before the countries problems that cannot be solved on a bilateral basis.


– But there is another organization that constantly appears, in any case, on the Russian agenda. She is regularly remembered and mentioned in Russia both in the press and on television. As a rule, all events related to its functioning are carefully covered. We are talking about BRICS. As you know, this organization emerged as a kind of attempt to find a response to the challenges associated with the economic crisis. But now it seems that the crisis has already passed, or at least disappeared from the pages of the newspapers. But the organization remains. Do you think that its existence is still relevant? To what extent is Russia called upon to continue to play an active role in BRICS?

– Let me remind you that BRICS began as a theoretical model created by a number of economists in order to typify countries at approximately the same level of development or at the same economic pace development. Then suddenly the theoretical model became an organization. But every theoretical model has its own weakness: it is relevant for a certain period of time. And it turned out that BRICS is not even an organization, but rather a conglomeration of countries.


- Would it be more appropriate to say a club?

- You are right - it is a club that unites countries on a number of grounds. First, we are talking about countries representing different civilizations. These are Brazil, India, Russia, China, India, South Africa - these are so different countries today in terms of, not even in terms of development, but in terms of their intentions, that is, aspirations, that, of course, it is very difficult to keep them in one club. & nbsp;

And in this regard, in my opinion, BRICS has become an unviable organization. Which does not mean its inevitable disappearance or the possibility of sudden rapid development. Here, of course, any changes are possible, but still BRICS - & nbsp; this is a virtual idea. 

I think this is a good example of the fact that an organization cannot be created about something, that is, as it happened, under a crisis or post-crisis conjuncture.  Now the crisis has passed, the goals have changed, and the organization suddenly became unnecessary ... And it is always very difficult to maintain its viability: after all, this is the secretariat, and some kind of bureaucracy, contributions - in general, a number of expenditure items.

Quite Perhaps interest in BRICS has finally disappeared, although I do not rule out that it can reappear if the economies of its member countries begin to grow. After all, when the BRICS idea was just gaining momentum, China was on a fantastic take-off. The Russian economy also developed very strongly and powerfully; India and Brazil did quite well. South Africa had certain problems, but, at the same time, was quite viable. Today, the situation in the world has changed: in particular, the development of China has slowed down. When BRICS emerged, China's growth was between 9 and 11% per annum relative to its GDP. Today it fell to 6.5%. There are also problems in the Russian economy. Brazil is facing an acute economic crisis.  As far as India is concerned, it has taken up reforming its economy. And South Africa is developing extremely poorly. That is, there can be no union of such multidirectional countries - this is one of the problems of the BRICS structure as such.


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Alexey Maslov: "The SCO is positioning itself very competently as a non-military entity"


– Do you think we are witnessing a certain politicization that would lead to a new level of bloc confrontation? Is it possible, for example, to oppose the SCO to the same European Union or, in the broad sense of the word, to the global interests of the entire Western economic bloc? Because, in general, if we get acquainted with the criticism of the SCO, then, as a rule, it is the fruit of the creativity of people who are inclined to see in the history of the creation of this organization opposition to similar mature Western structures or even the very concept of the world order according to the Western model of development.

– You are right. There is very serious criticism of the SCO. In my opinion, this organization is either credited with something superfluous, or they are trying to push the SCO into some actions that are simply not typical for it. As an illustration, I will say that many would not mind turning the SCO into a powerful military organization, where Russia and China, with the possible participation of India, would be the lead countries. According to this design, such a truly militarily powerful organization would be able to resist NATO. In other words, we are talking about turning the SCO into a kind of Asian NATO. And very many hotheads believe that this is how it should be done, not realizing that the SCO is a structure of a completely different nature. There is another point of view. Its adherents insist that the SCO is a stillborn organization, that is, it cannot exist at all. It doesn't have common goals, so it will soon fall apart. 

And the thing is that, in principle, the SCO is now just very competently positioning itself as a non-military entity. This structure has some general security issues where the use of armed forces is necessary. And it is. But the SCO is not trying  oppose yourself to anyone! I will also draw your attention to the fact that today the blocs have ceased to oppose each other or any civilizations that they dislike. 


- In your opinion, in the coming years or in a more remote In the future, can we expect the emergence of some new international organizations like the SCO, BRICS or ASEAN?

– Firstly, this process is already underway, as the EAEU is developing, where the undisputed leader is precisely Russia. But I do not think that new organizations will be created, if we do not take into account some very small and unviable structures. Most likely, we will even see attempts to combine projects or ongoing discussions between different blocks. There are already such attempts, but so far, in my opinion, they have not been very successful, since even a single agenda has not yet been worked out.

Let me draw your attention to the fact that Russia proposes to unite the projects of the SCO, the EAEU and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Such a union can be not just conditionally virtual, resulting in a pure protocol, but lead - why not? –  towards the creation of a single free trade area. Such an initiative could take the form of regulating non-tariff barriers to help promote trade. It could also be joint meetings to develop antiterrorist security measures.

In general, a completely different type of cooperation is planned today: this is interaction at the block level. Until now, such large-scale forms did not fundamentally exist.

At the same time, in the end, all projects will be brought together. And yet, Russia proposed a not very well-established concept of conjugation of projects. No doubt, the idea is absolutely brilliant, but today, by and large, this concept is practically unrealizable. Nevertheless, I consider its implementation a matter of time, since the countries will have to somehow moderate their national ambitions and start interacting, realizing that there is no and will not be a single leader in the common space. The future belongs to blocks, each of which will represent some of its own interests. We see such block building today. Moreover, it has reached a completely different level than 20 years ago.

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