Topic: G20 Summit in St.Petersburg
Weekly column by Konstantin von Eggert
The G20 summit in St. Petersburg, as expected, was a meaningless affair.
Konstantin von Eggert
Whatever was declared there will never be implemented due to a fundamental flaw with the G20: It remains a disparate group of nations with sometimes radically conflicting interests.
Formed in the wake of the 2008 global economic crisis under the (totally false) premise that if you tell 20 passengers to drive a bus they will somehow, between them, master the task.
A strange thing about our seemingly globalized and interdependent world is that divisions in it seem even sharper. There is the impotent United Nations (currently deadlocked over Syria), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which rarely deals with security issues and is famous for internal bickering, the so-called BRICS group whose main preoccupation is loudly proclaiming it represents the world’s future – without precisely knowing what this future would or could be.
The G8 stood a chance of being coherent – if it wasn’t in reality the G7+1, with Russia playing a completely separate role.
The international bodies that are survive the tumult of this new age best are built on a healthy mix of values and interests.
Pundits can predict the demise of the West as much as they want but the two most successful global organizations cum players are unabashedly Western in outlook and values – albeit in different ways.
Despite repeated warnings of its imminent demise, NATO remains the world’s foremost military alliance: a collection of democracies joining forces for common defense.
The EU is not only half a billion people who produce, export and consume but also a political union. It offers a model that tens of millions of people find attractive and deem worth emulating.
The WTO, although it does not exclusively comprise Western nations, is based on an essentially Western premise that free and orderly trade serves mankind. It comes in a close third after NATO and the EU, but is still relatively young and needs a little more time to prove its mettle.
Russia (although a member of several multilateral organizations) has never been completely at ease on a multilateral level. It is the driving force behind the Collective Security Treaty Organization – which never provided much security for its members.
It also remains the most powerful member of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the CIS) – which was built to facilitate the divorce of the former Soviet republics. However, the separation has been accomplished and finalized and since Georgia withdrew from it altogether in 2008 the Commonwealth is comatose.
Of course, Russia enjoys being a permanent member of the UN Security Council – if only to be able to shut the organization down at will. The problem is that the other four can do that too. Sadly, most of the organizations Russia belongs to (including the UN but excluding the WTO) are not worth much.
The upcoming Eurasian Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan is to be launched with great fanfare before the year is out – but it is unlikely to be any better. Looking like a hasty and deliberate snub to the EU, it lacks the foundations that keep an organization healthy – and that is having a clear understanding of the benefits to each member and an equally clear perception of what really unites them.
Currently, it looks more like a modern day take on the 19th century Three Emperors League (of 1873) rather than a vibrant and exciting, forward-looking project.
This leads me to a rather personal conclusion: values count.
Without them one has difficulty harmonizing interests. In a post-modern world values probably count even more than before. Even if it wants to remain a ‘stand alone’ power, Russia would be better served accepting this simple truth.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
What is Russia's place in this world? Unashamed and unreconstructed Atlanticist, Konstantin von Eggert believes his country to be part and parcel of the "global West." And while this is a minority view in Russia, the author is prepared to fight from his corner.
Konstantin Eggert is Editor-in-Chief of Kommersant FM radio, Russia's first 24-hour news station. In the 1990s he was Diplomatic Correspondent for Izvestia and later the BBC Russian Service Moscow Bureau Editor. Konstantin has also spent some time working as ExxonMobil Vice President in Russia. He was made Honorary Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
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- email@example.com'Standing alone'...17:57, 10/09/2013"In a post-modern world values probably count even more than before. Even if it wants to remain a ‘stand alone’ power, Russia would be better served accepting this simple truth."
The power that 'stands alone' on principle rather than mere ballistics, will soon find itself with many friends around. Вот an absolute sea-change in the direction of world power and events 'Due East' has proceeded from this 'meaningless' G20 summit. Want to know how things aren't in the World? Read this perpetually clueless professional bloviator.
- arsanlupinOkay, what form of hallucinogens are you ingesting THIS week?04:23, 11/09/2013A pity all you are able to contribute is some vague predictions of Western demise based on no fact at all, and some insults to the author.
A lot of Russia’s problem is that they have no principles. The corruption in their government is beyond pandemic; by Putin’s own public admission regional officials stole more than 6 BILLION rubles from the government in the first half of this year. Naturally that doesn’t count what Putin and his United Russia cronies stole, so the real problem is far worse – enough to badly distort Russia’s entire economy. And if the government officials routinely lie, cheat, and steal, what motivation is there for the ordinary citizen to have any more respect than them for ethics, principles, or the rule of law? None at all, of course. Unlike the intellectually challenged individual who made the original post here, I’ve been to several of the former Soviet republics many times, and I’ve seen with my own eyes the truth of this. Even His Holiness the Russian Orthodox “Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus' ” Kiril the First is tainted by corruption and political involvement.
Until that is drastically improved upon, Russia will never have true respect in the international community – nor will it deserve it. If the people of Russia have no respect for their own government, why should anyone else?
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