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Regular version of the site

An Excellent Platform for Academic Debate and Public Education

Dr. Marek Dabrowski
Dr. Marek Dabrowski
Dr. Marek Dabrowski, CASE Fellow at the CASE - Center for Social and Economic Research in Warsaw, Poland, has participated in every HSE April Conference since 2001, missing just the 2000 inaugural event.  A professor with decades of experience in the field of economics, Dr. Dabrowski’s current areas of expertise range from monetary and fiscal policies and political economies in transition to perspectives on European integration and European Neighborhood Policy. In advance of next week’s XV HSE April Conference, Dr. Dabrowski kindly took part in a brief interview with the HSE News Service.   

― How would you characterize Russia’s progress in terms of its socio-economic development during this transition from planned to market economy? What progress has Russia made? What obstacles remain to be overcome?

― Russia made great progress during its transition from centrally planned to market economy in the 1990s and early 2000s, in spite of all the policy zigzags and the societal pain that accompanied the transformation. However, since the mid-2000s, market-oriented reforms halted and even regressed in some areas (for example, the state increased its share of ownership in several important sectors, eg the oil industry and banking. This is well illustrated by the subsequent EBRD Transition Reports. In my opinion, Russia’s biggest obstacles to economic reform and economic development stem from the authoritarian tendencies in the political system.

― Would the Russian economy benefit from closer integration with the European Union?

― Obviously, yes — the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner and a key source of industrial technology and know-how. Various feasibility studies conducted in the last 10 years confirm that the Russian economy could greatly benefit from a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, the same kind as those concluded/negotiated by the EU with the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Canada, the US, and India. And the EU was ready to negotiate such an agreement with Russia on several occasions. This would open the door for a true free trade corridor from Lisbon to Vladivostok—something previously touted by the Russian government. Unfortunately, the latter wrongly chose geopolitical confrontation with the EU over its free trade agreements with Ukraine and other CIS countries, instead of following the same route.

― You have been a policy advisor in many countries that were once in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Have you detected any patterns in the way they are developing now? Is the Soviet socialist legacy an important factor for all of them, or is each case different?

― In the early years of the transition (the 1990s), the post-Soviet institutional and mental legacy was an important obstacle to reforms in countries of the former USSR, with some noticeable exceptions (Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia). Now it plays a less important role; there exist other kinds of anti-reform obstacles resulting from political authoritarianism, corruption, a deficit of rule of law, a lack of transparency, etc. Also, when one looks at countries of the former USSR, they are becoming increasingly heterogeneous in political, economic, and social terms.

― How significant are cultural differences in economic development?

― That depends on what we mean by cultural differences. If we speak about religious, historical, and societal backgrounds, they play a certain role in economic development, but I would not overestimate their importance. Too often they serve as a good excuse for politicians to avoid painful but necessary reforms that can make their countries economically successful.

Actually, among the countries that have succeeded economically in the last 30-50 years, there are ones representing different continents, ethnic compositions, histories, religions, and legal systems; they vary in size, etc. In my opinion, the quality of economic policy and economic, political, and legal institutions are the most important determinants, and—as empirical examples demonstrate—various nations can succeed (or fail) in this respect.

― How important are conferences like this one and the academic research projects going on at the HSE and other Russian universities in terms of sustaining the economic and social development of Russia and other FSU countries?

― The Annual HSE April Conference is probably the largest academic gathering of this type in Eastern Europe and provides an excellent platform for academic debate, professional contacts, and public education. The HSE belongs to the rather limited and elite group of academic centres in Russia and Eastern Europe that are able to teach modern economics and conduct research on an acceptable international level. This is a huge intellectual asset that should be protected and further developed.

Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for the HSE news service

See also:

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'The Emerging Trends in Africa Will Shape the World Order, and We Need to Be Prepared for That'

Africa has the potential to become a new economic giant. Today, African countries are interested in comprehensive cooperation and strengthening their positions in the global arena, and they look forward to receiving assistance from Russia and China in developing their technology, economy, and social sphere. Effective engagement with Africa requires training a greater number of professional African studies specialists. The XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference at HSE University featured a plenary session on 'Africa in a Changing World'.

Learning a Foreign Language Can Delay the Onset of Dementia

Dementia, a debilitating form of cognitive impairment, can be preventable. According to Professor Jubin Abutalebi of the University Vita Salute San Raffaele, Italy, and the Arctic University of Tromsoe, Norway, the easiest way to prevent cognitive decline after the age of 60 is to learn and practice foreign languages – the more languages, the better, suggests Professor Abutalebi in his presentation 'Preventing dementia through bilingualism' at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

‘The BRICS Strategic Partnership Offers the World Creative, Unifying, Forward-Looking Initiatives’

Today, BRICS has become an influential factor in modern international relations and is perceived as one of the pillars of a more just world order. This association is not based on one party’s dominance, but instead, is built on a sound balance of interests. The role of the association was discussed by the participants of the plenary session ‘BRICS Development Strategy: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World’at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

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