Moscow "Patterns of transition"
On the 28-30th of Aufust, 2008 the 10th bi-annual European Association for Comparative Economic Studies conference "Patterns of Transition and New Approaches to Comparative Economics" had been held at the SU-HSE, Moscow.
Some remarkable events took place during the first day of the Conference; the new ECACES Managing Board was elected and the 2008 EACES Doctoral Award ceremony was held. The famous scientists Mario Nutti (University of Rome) and Sergey Karaganov (the SU-HSE faculty of World Economy and International Affairs Dean and Center for Complex European Studies Economic Advisor) reported at the meeting and it is Mr. Karaganov's presentation that became the hot topic of the conference.
Traditionally, the EACES holds conferences twice a year: once in Western Europe and another time in Eastern. This was the first time the conference had been held in Russia. In his welcoming speech, the HSE Deputy Rector Andrey Yakovlev (the only Russian in the Conference Managing Board) stressed that EACES itself had suggested the HSE as a place for the Conference. This can be regarded as recognition of the HSE's contribution to economic studies promotion and contemporary economic attainments distribution all over the World, Yakovlev said.
At the same, this would stimulate the further economic research implementation in Russia and promote Russian integration to the international scientific community, Mr. Yakovlev added.
More than 200 researchers from all over the world attended the three-day Conference. Widely respected researchers and tutors with close links to their national governments on economic issues were among the participants. But most of the delegates were young researchers, since the Association has a particular interest in supporting them. The particular Doctoral Award was intended for the best of them. This year, Sanjaya Asharya, researcher from Nepal, representing the Erasmus Rotterdam University was presented with this honor for his work "Pro-poor Growth and Liberalisation: CGE Policy Modelling".
When the EACES President Will Bartlett presented this award he stressed that Mr. Asharya's issue had became the first among equals. That is why he also looked forward to interesting scientific discussions on other research papers during the conference. The debates were opened by Sergey Karaganov's keynote paper "Russia and Europe in the new economic and political landscape: between Nigeria and Venice". When Andrey Yakovlev introduced Karaganov to the public he called him "a person truly respected internationally".
When the West won the cold war it seemed that history had ended. But the events of the 21st century have shown us that this is not the case. A bi-polar system has gone through transitions towards a multi-polar world. And the most interesting point in the issue is that intensified economic growth and political success has been achieved not only by Western democracies but also by authoritarian states. This is the crucial blow for the political idea adopted by Western democracy as their ideal. Karaganov started his report by saying "A new age of competition, conflicts and, I hope, collaboration has begun",
This economic breakthrough could be called "Asian". But we should take into account that there are three sub-regional clusters in Asia: China and Japan with their Shintoistic and Confucian tradition, India with its Buddhist origins, and Muslim Central Asia and Middle East, divided into Shiite Iran and other Muslim states that support the Sunnite tradition.
Chinese and Indian Asia have benefited greatly from globalization. It is developing in unbelievably dynamic way. Probably, despite of the all obstacles and predictions for a collapse, this growth will continue but in reduced way, S. Karaganov emphasized. The concentration of educated, disciplined and cheap human recourses is the driving force for this.
As reporter supposed, these regions will concentrate a greater part of World Industry, technologies and knowledge for some years.
For some reasons, the Middle East stagnation, when compared to the rapid development proved by Western, Eastern and Northern Asia, will continue. But the gap has widened yet because of monetary inflows into the region. It is reasonable to say that instead of traditional Christian-Muslim opposition, conflict based on multi-polar Muslim - Shintoistic and Confucian - Christian divides come into play. This division is obvious when comparing the intensified development scenario in India and the method that its neighbor Pakistan is implementing.
Taking this into consideration, the Iranian development scenario must be scrutinized closely. It has developed slowly but successfully before the oil boom and has obtained prospects for further development. It is also worth remembering its nuclear assets. Iranian membership of the nuclear community is not an issue for discussion but simply a matter of time. Summarizing all the factors mentioned above, it becomes clear that Iranian political propensities will serve as a key factor of Asian development, Karaganov assumed.
As the delegate emphasized, three clear groups of Asian countries are aiming to get rid of western superiority not only in economic, but also political and social spheres. The recent period of economic growth, often achieved against Washington Consensus recommendations, drove the process. But the new leading states try to avoid confrontation with the West and, on the contrary, are now attempting to cooperate with it willingly. This is the main reason that Karaganov defined this contemporary epoch as the NEC period, i.e. a New Era of Competition, Confrontation or Cooperation.
On the other side, the political influence of Asia wins over as economic might. But because of unequal economic opportunities and undeveloped international affaires regulation system, it is the political issues that will be the major bone of contention. For example, regardless of the US's problems in Iraq, a deep security gap exists in the Persian Gulf region.
In response to the world influence zones displacement the West created the so called "democracies alliance concept". |Incidentally, this was supported and developed by the current Republican Party presidential candidate, John McCain.
According to the concept, several of the most influential superpowers should charge themselves with struggle against new threats all over the world.
But what should be the Russian reaction to the "Asian challenge"? According to Mr. Karaganov, Russia needs an advanced economic strategy to bring them closer to Asia and at the same time maintain political, social, and technological connections with Europe. Following only European economic trends will not make any sense in the near future due to fast Asian growth. But if we turn away from Europe completely we risk losing our identity.
Karaganov sumarised by saying that Russia is surrounded by two Wests. The first is the West itself, and another one to the East. It is a great challenge, but a great opportunity also. If we use it, we will become the Third West. It is more preferable development path in comparison with the Euro-Asian Concept or the Third Rome Concept.
Next, reporter Mario Nutti searched for relevant Russian economic development models through comparison with known transitional economies. He scrutinized closely the recommendations of the Washington Consensus, the Soviet experience and the European socialist model. The Chinese way and Latin experience were particularly mentioned. He summarized by citing Karangov and saying that Russia should turn to Asia but not ignore Europe.
by A. Bulatova