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ЕАЭС, ЭПШП and turn of Russia on the East

Sergey Karaganov, the dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics at the Higher School of Economics, Sergey Karaganov, speaks about the great opportunities that are opening up in the case of the development of the philosophy and practice of conjugation of the EEA and EEPS, Russia, China, Central Asia, Iran, potentially India, South Korea,

The CIS summit and the meeting of the Supreme State Council of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that took place on October 16 and 17 in Astana brought some clarity to the integration of the latter with the Chinese Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), the development of cooperation in Central Asia, including in the military-political field. A document was adopted on the coordination of actions of the member states on the integration of the EAEU and the SREB.

ЕАЭС, ЭПШП and turn of Russia on the East


Member of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy of the Russian Federation, political scientist, dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics of the Higher School of Economics
At the same time, the Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) of the EAEU executive body sent the most general proposal to the European Union Commission on work on pairing the two unions. It is known that similar proposals are being prepared in Brussels, where they are looking for a way out of the impasse in the policy of sanctions. It is not clear, however, how capable negotiators from the EU can be in conditions when they need the consensus of the member states to make decisions.
And a part of them, directly equal to or subordinate to the United States, is doing and will do everything to prevent rapprochement. It can result in meaningless "negotiations for the sake of negotiations."

Russian observers, Analyzing the Eurasian processes, a little relieved from the heart. Before that, anxiety was growing that the potentially historic agreement of V.V. Putin and Xi Jinping "on pairing" will be "wrapped" in bureaucratic confusion or incapacity. The bureaucracies of some of the allied countries tried in the old fashioned way to agree on the receipt of Chinese money on a bilateral basis, despite the deliberate disadvantage of working from uncoordinated and obviously weaker positions.

The Chinese partners, in the absence of constant powerful signals "from above" and Russian initiative, also tended to the old "bilateral". After the decision to expand the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the visible activity in it clearly froze. In it, as in the EEC, a change of heads of executive bodies is expected.

On the other hand, opposition to the rapprochement between Russia, China and other Eurasian states, which had begun to gain strength, was sharply intensified. The propaganda is primarily in the Anglo-Saxon press, but not only. A series of articles appeared about the futility of the Eurasian project, about its disadvantage for everyone at the same time, or about its profitability only for China or for Russia. Particular emphasis is placed on convincing themselves, and at the same time the Russian and Chinese elites, in the inevitability of growing rivalry between the two countries in Central Asia. In Russia, this propaganda is designed, as before, to inflame suspicion about China and to convince that there is no alternative to unilateral economic alignment with the West and, accordingly, dependence on it. Diplomatic instruments were also used.

As part of the last UN General Assembly, the US Secretary of State held the first ever meeting with the foreign ministers of the countries of the former Soviet Central Asia. Neighbors from the region regularly report on the pressure exerted on them by the Americans to prevent the countries from drawing closer to each other and all of them to Russia and China.

The withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan has been stopped. The official reason is the activation of the Taliban in the north. But even earlier, observers could not understand how statements about the imminent withdrawal of NATO troops were combined with a massive program of building military infrastructure, including airfields and bases.

All these phenomena fall into the background of the forecasts of many experts about the likelihood of a new wave of activity to destabilize the region, in order to complicate the rapprochement between Russia and China and the creation in Central Asia of a new economic center linking not only China with Europe, but also Russia and China with the South. Asia, primarily Iran, India. In the expert literature, but, it seems, in real politics, the stake is placed on straddling the inevitable change of generations of leaders in Kazakhstan and most Central Asian countries and to ensure, if not the arrival (extremely unlikely) of pro-American forces, then at least the destabilization of the region. by the type of the Ukrainian operation. If the experts, whom I tend to trust, are right, then we are talking about causing damage not only to Russia, but also to China, and at the same time about trying to prevent the rapprochement of these countries with Iran, which is almost inevitably becoming due to its potential (the most educated population is almost the whole Middle East, oil, gas, already a hefty industry and science) the "superpower" of the Middle East.

But enough about the challenges. It's better about great opportunities, opening up in the case of the development of the philosophy and practice of pairing the EAEU and the SREB, Russia, China, Central Asian countries, Iran, potentially India, South Korea, and a number of other states.

This opportunity is associated with the economic turn that has finally begun in Russia and to the East. After many years of idleness, disputes, the usual bureaucratic confusion and contradictions, the "Russian cart" going to the East seems to be "harnessed". In the Far East, "priority development territories" have been created and are starting to operate. The free port zone of Vladivostok will cover most of the ports on the east coast of Russia. Special tools for the development of the region are beginning to work. The Power of Siberia gas pipeline, the new Vostochny cosmodrome and related infrastructure facilities are under construction. We should expect an inflow of investments and then accelerated economic growth.

But so far, neither intellectually, nor from the point of view of economic programming, nor bureaucratically, the equally important problem of connecting the western and central regions of Siberia suffering from remoteness from them, which have the best human capital in the country, developed science, industry, and a powerful raw material base, has not been solved yet. Altai is already suffering from a relative oversupply of food. There is no logistics for exporting it. Connecting these regions to the Eurasian markets is an obvious solution. But the almost complete absence of meridional transport routes connecting Siberia with the rapidly rising regions of China, with South Asia, hinders.

Turning China to the West

Even more hopeful is China's turn to the West. He is objective. China's economy is developing more and more according to the "Asia for Asia" model, and not according to the former "Asia for the world." Intra-Asian and adjacent markets look increasingly promising for the Chinese. In addition, China has become convinced that constructive cooperation with the United States is failing. Trade is trade, but Washington is increasingly moving towards building a Cold War-style containment system in the Pacific. In this situation, the Chinese leadership has relied on economic expansion to the west and southwest through the development of logistics links in the direction of Iran, Pakistan, India, the Persian Gulf, and primarily to the European markets.

China has announced a concept of China's 16 + 1 investment expansion into sixteen countries of Central and Eastern Europe. A memorandum of cooperation within the framework of the Silk Road has already been signed with Hungary, large-scale, more aid-like investment programs are being implemented in Serbia and other Balkan states. Business and part of the politicians of the European Union, which is in a systemic and so far hopeless crisis, increasingly see a way out of it through the markets of Eurasia and China. Ten months ago, Russian experts put forward the idea that the European split, spurred on by the Ukrainian crisis, cannot be overcome within the old framework; it is necessary to go beyond them through the creation of a pan-Asian space for cooperation, development and security.

Initially, in the spirit of the current confrontation, the idea was greeted, like everything coming from Russia, almost with hostility. But in recent months, it has been more and more often even semi-officially put forward by Europeans in a very positive spirit. First of all, the Germans, Austrians, Swiss, Finns, who see in the establishment of Eurasian cooperation not only a way to overcome the impasse into which Europe has driven itself in the field of security, but also to enter new markets, out of European economic stagnation.

It is curious that Poland also joined the 16 + 1 idea, claiming even its authorship, either seeing the consequences for its economy of the Ukrainian tragedy, in provoking which Warsaw played a prominent role, or wanting, as before, in the EU Russia dialogue , Russia Germany to play the role of a "spoiler" of obstacles on the path of rapprochement, but already within the Eurasian framework, at the direction of partners from Washington, or by a spiritual inclination to create problems for neighbors.

But be that as it may, China's turn to the West, incl. through the construction of logistic ties with Europe and South Asia, objectively extremely beneficial to Russia, which is turning economically to the East, in need of expanding its economic and political outlet to the Pacific Ocean and South Asia. Not least for its transformation into a first-class great power of the XNUMXst century, and therefore into a Pacific Atlantic and a full-fledged European-Asian one.

To a country with powerful economic and cultural ties with Europe, the cradle of Russian civilization. And at the same time rapidly developing to the East and Southeast to emerging markets and, as a result, playing, along with partners in the EAEU, primarily Kazakhstan, a key role in the rapidly emerging community of Greater Eurasia. The leading economic player will be China, which is pulling up and pulling up to Europe. But Russia will also play an important role in it. Let's hope that soon and economic. But, of course, as the most powerful military-political and diplomatic force of the Eurasian continent, the main guarantor of its security and international peace in general, protection from destabilizing actions of external forces, in particular terrorism. Russia is quite successfully demonstrating this role by stopping the Western expansion, potentially leading to a big war, in Ukraine, starting to preemptively impose its game in the fight against instability and the expansion of radical terrorism in and around Syria. The role is, of course, dangerous. But, apparently, the only possible one for a country whose elite, even liberal, albeit anti-liberal, is afraid of decisive economic reforms and thus strengthening "soft power". And the tough part of this elite knows how to use the force, if not prefers.

Reliance on strength or active integration policy

Forecasts for the development of the situation around Russia are also pushing to rely on hard power. Only the eastern borders look relatively safe. But even there the likelihood of a conflict between external powers is growing. In the West, the situation has worsened, although so far it does not look acutely dangerous and can only become so in the event of an exacerbation of the Ukrainian crisis from outside. Its main short-term danger is in diverting attention and resources from more dangerous or more profitable directions of foreign policy and internal development. The situation in the South, of course, was heading towards a deep destabilization for decades. The question was where it would be directed and who would direct it. So far, Russia has seized the initiative.

It is a pity, of course, that the modern Russian elite could not, perhaps, and due to objective circumstances did not give it, to extend the period of peaceful development.

But, I repeat, the emerging situation also provides outstanding opportunities, primarily through the development of Russian Siberia and the transformation of Russia into a bridge between rising Asia, China and a sinking, but still rich and culturally close Europe. Naturally, the "bridge" is not only logistic, but also industrial, technological, and cultural.

But for the Eurasian promise to become a reality, an active policy is needed to integrate Siberia with the South, the EAEU with the SREB. At the same time, in coordination with partners and systematically. Even if Ukraine used to distract, and now Syria and other hotbeds of instability will also distract.

The first five months after the proclamation of the "conjunction" raised serious concerns that we would "snatch defeat from the hands of victory." The past CIS and EAEU summits have somewhat dispelled these fears, but not completely. There is no time for buildup. We already missed two decades without participating, due to the objective cause of the collapse, and subjective mental laziness, ignorance and Eurocentricity of the elites, in the first waves of Asian and especially Chinese economic growth.

Until very recently, the turn to the Far East was largely hampered by the weakness of the bureaucracies.

Building a community of Greater Eurasia with an important and advantageous place for Russia in it requires systematic work, and not isolated actions, as until now.

One of the most obvious ways to create an effective bureaucratic machine. Until now, only the Foreign Ministry is heroically trying to coordinate an attempt to pair it up. Pairing is primarily a matter of economic strategy and requires management from the highest political level; it suggests the creation of a permanent committee, a working group on Eurasian cooperation under the leadership of either the prime minister, or the head of the presidential administration, or a special vice-premier with the participation of not only departments, but also community experts. business. And not only Russian, but also from neighboring countries. Such a commission could bring together the dialogue between the EAEU SREB, the EU EAEU, if it starts. And, finally, to help revitalize the extremely promising, but still half-asleep SCO, which could potentially become a key organization in the emerging Greater Eurasia.

Published under the heading "The Promise of Eurasia" in "RG" (Federal Issue) N6812 dated October 26, 2015
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