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Sergei Karaganov: "Everything is changing literally before our eyes"
About what the problem on the Korean peninsula could turn out, with which Asian economies it is necessary to build up relations and how not to slow down Russia in a turn to the East
Photo: Tass / VEF Photobank
Sergey Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy, Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and World Politics at the Higher School of Economics, Co-chairman of the Valdai Club, in conversation with EastRussia, discusses whether Russian diplomacy can help in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, and the Russian economy - victory in the Asia-Pacific market.
- Sergey Alexandrovich, the Eastern Economic Forum said a lot that it is impossible to build any forecasts of Russia's development without taking into account its relations with its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region. How much the recent developments have brought about a major change in the overall picture, as a result of which the tension on «North Korean» direction?
- The fork in this case is simple: it's one thing if the war does begin. Other - if there is no war. Sincerely I hope for the second. But, one way or another, North Korea has declared itself as a nuclear power and it will now remain forever. This fact will have to be acknowledged. Through 5-10 years, both Japan and South Korea will become nuclear. Thus, there will be a completely new configuration of relations in the world - both in terms of the balance of power in East Asia, and in our contacts with the US, and in relations of other countries with China. I see good prospects for Russia as a whole. But, of course, we must take into account that the "storm" years are ahead, and to build any systems of interaction with other states accordingly.
- Can Russia play the role of a mediator between North and South Korea, where is the new president now?
- It would be nice if, with the mediation of diplomats (including ours), we managed to persuade the North Koreans to stop testing and freeze the nuclear program. But for this it is necessary that all other countries agree to recognize the nuclear status of the DPRK, and also go to the peace treaty. While the Americans are not going to do this at all - they find it difficult to recognize that all these years the US has pursued an erroneous policy towards the DPRK. Now the US is practically incapacitated when it comes to such important corners. As for South Korea, sooner or later it will have to go to the recognition of the nuclear status of its northern neighbor. Nobody can predict whether the DPRK will want to agree with anyone at all. This is a closed country. Even the Chinese, who were closest to her, can not do anything now. It is possible that the negotiations will require a relatively independent mediator, for whose role Russia fits best. In the ATP community, we began to actively enter only recently, with none of the players we have relations are not spoiled. The dispute over the islands with Japan in this case does not count, everyone understands that this is an old story. If we could fulfill the role of mediators in settling the Korean question, it would be great.
But we must take into account another risk. I have no doubt that diplomats are also thinking about this. To get into a complex international "knot", when all the others are not yet ready to participate in its unleashing, it would be foolish. Even if the North Koreans eventually go to any progress in the negotiations. All this, as usual in the East, is a delicate game and skillful diplomacy. I hope that we will enter into such a game and win - as it has so far happened in other difficult situations. But while he would urge Moscow to be cautious. Time has not come yet. And we must firmly oppose any attempts to unleash a war.
"Not only the DPRK has nuclear weapons, but a number of other countries - for example, Pakistan or India. Mutual relations with them have clear rules and frameworks. Why can not such a matrix be applied to North Korea?
- North Korea was a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), but then withdrew from it. India and Pakistan did not enter there initially. Probably, from the point of view of political morality and law this agreement is not so fair. In general, the whole history of nuclear weapons is precisely the history of its spread, and not all of its pages have been negative. Was also positive. I remind myself and you that first the United States created a nuclear bomb, destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, threatened the whole world. And it is unlikely that the history of mankind would have lasted long, had it not been for the further spread of nuclear weapons and the arrival of world powers in the balance of power. The nuclear, and later thermonuclear weapons created the Soviet Union, then Britain, China, France ... This allowed us to stay within the framework. Nuclear weapons have provided a relative peace.
It's another matter that the current nuclear powers do not want other countries to join their "club," fearing for strategic stability. Well, and some for lesser reasons. For example, one of the reasons for the USA's literally hysterical attitude to the fact that Iran has the opportunity to obtain nuclear weapons is that these two states are long-standing enemies. But we, too, would not be happy with the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb, so the Americans played along - although not so violently.
The fact that the North Koreans have received a nuclear bomb makes the situation in the world extremely dangerous. But it can also be said with certainty that it is unlikely that North Korea will refuse such weapons: for them, this is the only way to ensure its survival in the world and security from encroachment. I can not imagine the circumstances under which the North Koreans voluntarily refused such a trump card. The maximum, what can be expected, they will create a minimum nuclear potential and will be frozen on it, stopping new tests. No more.
- Is there, in your opinion, a real basis under the rumors that nuclear technologies entered the DPRK from the Ukrainian "Yuzhmash"?
- History can have a real basis. North Koreans have always stolen technology around the world, and not just created themselves. But to judge whether this information is serious or fake, you need to have accurate data from reliable sources. I just do not have such information.
- Has Russian-Japanese relations advanced in recent years? Has the process of general management in the Kuriles helped?
- I think that we are slowly moving in this direction. Literally in recent weeks, documents have been signed on the establishment of several new territories for advanced development (TOR), which de facto make the Kuriles an open economic zone. The Japanese usually come closer to the final of negotiations and demand some territorial concessions and say that this is "the last disputable moment", because of which everything is rolled back. But I can remember such moments for my long life about ten. Therefore, we must work quietly, despite all the obstacles. I think someday we will find a compromise that does not include the direct transfer of Japan's sovereignty over the islands, but in reality would ensure that the Japanese have full access to these lands, while maintaining the political and military control of Russia. It would be beneficial to all.
- ASEAN countries are actively seeking the Russian market in recent years. So, Indonesia has already announced that it wants to double the trade with the Russian Federation. How do you see this kind of cooperation?
- The largest resource, which Russia has not yet used, is contacts with Japan, South Korea, India and the ASEAN countries. With China, we have moved far enough, but in relation to other countries while stalled. It would be very tempting to use the opportunities of rapidly developing economies, which, among other things, produce a number of goods traditionally necessary for us. If this will be facilitated by strong trade ties and the availability of modern ports - it will be fine.
- South Korea has started talking about creating a free trade zone with the Russian Federation. How realistic are such plans, given the close relations of this country with America?
"There is nothing impossible in them, the Koreans will not look particularly at America in this case. The only problem is that they are offering us now. They are talking about a free trade zone for their own and Japanese goods, but they are not ready to give guarantees of large-scale large-scale investments. In other words, we will have to open our market to them, but do not produce anything from ourselves. Why do we need such a zone? Much more necessary would be a normal bargaining: to open its market for some of the goods from Korea and Japan, and in return receive a massive investment., Which would stimulate our development and exports.
- At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, agreements were reached on cooperation with India. Do not you get the impression that it has now significantly slowed down?
- No, I can not agree. The only thing is that in cooperation with this country one must take into account the complexity of its economy and huge logistical problems. We need to pierce the overland southern route to India through the Persian Gulf countries, which is now being built. And, most importantly, to work systematically and continuously. We have excellent political relations with this state, we have established powerful cooperation in the military-industrial complex, and this experience should be extended to other spheres. Many industries, however, in our countries are direct competitors (for example, the steel industry), in these cases it is impossible to talk about cooperation. But there are many other possibilities. For example, we may be interested in cooperation in the field of IT-technologies, and partners in the supply of high-processed raw materials and foodstuffs from Russia, which India systematically lacks because of the country's overpopulation. True, for this it will be necessary to develop transport routes and sell only highly processed goods to India, otherwise such supplies are unprofitable. The same is true of Iran, China and other potential partners.
- Will not such projects drown in the sea of bureaucratic procedures? Almost all our foreign counterparts often complain about this.
- Bureaucracy is not only a Russian problem, I assure you. At times our neighbors have chicking, too, sometimes so much that there's nowhere else. Many processes are slow, affecting political inertia and mismatch of commercial interests. But the growth of economic cooperation in all areas has already begun. It is slower than we would like. But still, we can already talk about serious changes and a general revival of the situation. Besides, bureaucracy sometimes helps. The work of the Ministry of the East has powerfully helped the Russian turn to the East, and now it has created the conditions for rapid economic growth for you.
- About the "turn to the East" as a priority of Russian policy, they have been talking for a long time. The fifth report of the international discussion club Valdai, prepared by a group of experts under your leadership, once again presented a study of this process. How does the speed of such advancement change? "To the Great Ocean", citing the title of the report?
- The current stage of the Russian turn to the East was conceived in the second half of the 2000-ies as an economic response to the rise of Asia - in many ways, however, belatedly. In fact, these processes began in 2011-2012, they were not prevented even by the crisis, the decline of Russian foreign trade and the devaluation of the ruble. Already, we can talk about a number of highly favorable trends. Against the backdrop of economic sanctions and the general cooling of Russia's relations with Europe and the United States, Russia increasingly began to define itself as the central Eurasian (or, perhaps, northern Eurasian) power. From cooperation with America and the Old World, she does not refuse, certain benefits have remained and it would be foolish not to use them. But increasingly Russia is focused on tight integration with the Asian world. This idea was officially supported by the leadership of the Russian Federation and China, and the bilateral initiative does not exclude the possibility that other possible partner countries join it. Greater Eurasia is a common project open to all, not only on the Eurasian continent.
Such changes have also affected the direct contacts of representatives of countries interested in such cooperation. This is evidenced even by how animated the atmosphere at the recent Eastern Economic Forum, the third in a row. On the first of them I saw mostly elderly gentlemen from the "old economy". Now everything is boiling, there is a huge number of young and energetic people who are ready to put their ideas into practice. I am delighted and have a feeling of "deep satisfaction", speaking in an old-fashioned language - I did not expect that the ideas will be implemented so quickly ... Everything changes literally before our very eyes. Of course, we would like more quickly, everyone again complains about "slowness and sluggishness". But in comparison with former times, progress is huge. And Vladivostok blossoms before our eyes. Other cities are in the queue.