maandag, mei 29, 2006

Russia will not join Europe, but will become "New West" door EXPERT in Kommersant, 27 mei 2006.

Russia is proceeding along a traditional path of gradual reforms that was cut short by the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, a deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Center told business newspaper Kommersant.

Dmitry Trenin said Russia's main objective now was to change, not fight other states for influence and power. The main factors of such transformation are the role of money and openness to the world, which gives Russia a chance to attain qualitative parity with societies that are traditionally termed the West.

The future of Russia is tied to the expansion of not so much Europe as the West as a whole. Unlike Europe, the West is not a geographical term but a sum total of institutions that make society competitive, such as personal freedom, private property, the supremacy of law, a government that is accountable to voters, and civil society. Trenin said Russia was moving toward this goal, albeit with major difficulties.

Its progress is hindered, and sometimes halted, by the tsarist political system, the closed nature of the "power corporation" that not only governs Russia but also owns a substantial part of its wealth, widespread corruption backed by the oil and gas factor, and the lack of supply and demand for democracy. However, money and openness, which are the main factors of transformation, are contributing to Russia's progress.

Trenin said the need to legalize, protect and leave their giant wealth to heirs would objectively push the country's elite toward creating a state ruled by law. On the other hand, the growth of the middle class will eventually create new demands to the management of social affairs at all levels. Democracy is not Russia's past but its future, though a relatively distant one.

The Carnegie expert said world practice showed that Russia had a chance to complete this difficult and long path. However, in the case of Russia, the notion of integration is connected not with regional European or Euro-Atlantic associations, but with the attainment of competitiveness on the global scale. Russia will not join the West but will gradually become a "New West" itself, which will only strengthen its identity.



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