09 february 2017
Roundtable “The former Soviet Union 25 Years after: Past, Present and the Future of Ex-republics”
On February, 9 2017, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) held the press-conference in the media centre of Rossiya Segodnya news agency, dedicated to the main trends and the prospects for the development of the post-Soviet space. The event was timed for the 25th anniversary of the Soviet Union dissolution and the formation of new independent states on its territory.
RIAC members and experts discussed the current situation in the former Soviet Union countries, political and economic prospects of the region. New RIAC book “The former Soviet Union 25 years after: past, present and future of ex-republics” was also presented at the press-conference.
Andrey Kortunov, RIAC Director General, said that dissolution of the Soviet Union had created two challenges for Russia: to maintain good relations with countries of the region and to preserve the common economic, cultural and linguistic space. However, none of these tasks have been resolved completely. Andrey Kortunov also noted that there is an idea that the Soviet Union’s dissolution is still not completely finished. The evidence of this hypothesis is the situation in Ukraine and in the South Caucasus.
Evgeny Kozhokin, Vice Rector for Research of the MGIMO-University and RIAC member, expressed an opinion that one of the difficulties in creating common economic space on ex-Soviet area was the relative youth of most counties in this region. He stressed the necessity for ex-Soviet countries to understand their common interests, because breaking links within the region would weaken all its states. Evgeny Kozhokin also noted that the 4th industrial revolution poses new common challenges to the former Soviet countries, related to necessity of renovation of their economies.
Yaroslav Lissovolik, the Chief economist of the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and RIAC expert, said that due to collapse of the USSR and rupture of inter-industry and interregional links, former Soviet republics had experienced dramatic decrease of their GDP level. According to the speaker’s opinion, the EAEU countries do not completely use the resource of integration. In particular, Russian companies can export their goods more effectively to former Soviet republics. Yaroslav Lissovolik also said that the geographical position of most former Soviet countries made their collaboration inevitable.
Andrey Kazantsev, the Director of the Analytical Centre of Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University and RIAC expert, spoke about the situation in Central Asia. He stated that decline in economic migrants’ remittances affected Tajikistan’s and Uzbekistan’s economies. At the same time, Kyrgystan, the member of the EAEU, didn’t experience such negative impact. The expert also noted the fact that China had already singed bilateral treaties with all Central Asia countries. Cooperation with China in the framework of the initiative One Belt, One Road creates conditions for the diversification of economies ex-Soviet countries.
“The idea of creating Greater Eurasia, which will include China, former Soviet republics and EU countries is becoming more and more popular not only in Central Asia, but also in Russia” – Andrey Kazantsev said.
Sergey Markedonov, Associate Professor, Department of Regional Studies and Foreign Policy, Russian State University for the Humanities, RIAC Expert, stressed that since the collapse of the Soviet Union nine armed conflicts have occurred. He said that the conflicts could be divided into two groups – frozen (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria) and active ones, such as conflicts in the Ukraine’s East and in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the expert, Russia and Western countries can cooperate in freezing and resolving of such conflicts. In the case of Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria, both sides could use their experience to handle the crisis.
Sergey Rekeda, RuBaltic.Ru Editor-in-Chief, MSU Director General, Information and Analytical Centre on Social and Political Processes in the Post-Soviet Space, RIAC expert, said that the potential conflicts in Baltic countries primarily originate from ethnic problems within respective societies. In particular, the problem of the status of Russian minority still exists in Latvia and Estonia, as well as the problem of Polish and Russian minorities’ status in Lithuania.