Minister Councillor of the Russian Embassy in France.
I don’t want to reduce my speech exclusively to the relationship between the BRICS and “The New Silk Road” project. First of all, because this project has many dimensions, including, among others, great opportunities for cooperation with the Eurasian Union, of which Russia’s membership is also very important. Secondly, it is crucial that there be an understanding that the significance and the creative vocation of the BRICS, as a new kind of grouping, isn’t reduced to a mere number of selected projects—its scope is much larger.
BRICS in the World System
First of all, I would like to address the role of the BRICS in the international system as seen from Moscow. Today, the BRICS are asserting themselves as an influential participant in the world system of governance. At the same time, the BRICS is a young interstate association which, from a Russian point of view, reflects the great trends of our time. It additionally possesses a number of innovating qualities.
The emergence of this group was the natural outcome of the dynamic development of the processes of globalization, of the scattering of global world power and of the strengthening of new poles of growth and political influence, in parallel with the strengthening of the interdependency of the countries located on different continents.
The cooperation among the “Five” reflects the shared need for establishing a solid partnership between the different cultures and civilizations as the basis for the formation of an international polycentric system. The fact that the phenomenon of the BRICS corresponds to this objective vector of world development, makes this formation attractive, dynamic and future-oriented. It is vital that this group is not tied up in the straitjacket of hierarchy nor the rigid discipline typical of politico-military blocks or coalitions. The BRICS are a symbol of the multi-polar world in the making. It is obvious that, for this reason, the attitude of the West towards the BRICS,—I will make an understatement,—is cautious. The West, used to controlling numerous processes of the world economy, cannot accept the fact that there exist free alternatives.
Cooperation within the BRICS, in our opinion, constitutes an example of the way in which multilateral partnership must be built in the Twenty-First Century. Nobody exerts domination inside this group, there is no submission, and we work on the basis of a true equality and mutual respect. This cooperation is not directed against non-member countries,—on the contrary, we share a positive agenda which consists, above all, in creating additional sources of development and in bolstering the well-being of our populations, which is inextricably related to the objectives of the maintenance of viable international stability.
Therefore, all those who try to accuse the BRICS of being conflict-oriented, are wrong. This isn’t at all its true nature.
The defense of the principles of democracy and of justice in international relations, is a key aspect in all the activities of the BRICS. It is one of the main centers of policy formulation, offering balanced positions in the interest of solving the most pressing international problems. In this context, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the voices of solidarity with the BRICS, calling for an in-depth collaborative effort for peaceful conflict resolution as backed by the UN Charter, without double standards, and without any unilateral military intervention or the use of the “big stick” of sanctions. The defense of the indivisible character of security, and the refusal to admit that it is possible to bolster one’s own security to the detriment of that of others,—consolidate the potential of the BRICS to develop long-term solutions to regional crises. This role of the BRICS cannot but grow.
The common approach to guaranteeing that the creation of the new multi-polar system be based on reason, truth and the partnership of civilizations, allows the BRICS to serve as a sort of lighthouse in the turbulent sea of world politics. Another proof of the growing authority of the BRICS is the success of the summits in the “outreach” format, with the participation of the countries belonging to the host country’s region. The Russian city of Ufa is preparing to host the next gathering of this type, to which our Eurasian partners are invited.
The coming Russian Presidency
As underlined by Russian Head of State Mr. Vladimir Putin, the Russian presidency will place greater emphasis on the most efficient use of the capacities of the BRICS to strengthen security and stability in the world.
Each BRICS summit is a milestone, a step in the development of this young association. During the Fortaleza summit (15-16 July, 2014), documents were signed for the creation of a New Development Bank (NDB) as well as the founding charter of the BRICS. In Ufa, the Russian presidency is aiming for substantial progress in several areas. It hopes to bring the cooperation of the BRICS to a new strategic level. In the economic field, we are counting on the kick-off of the New Development Bank launched on the eve of the summit, and on the creation of the pool of currency reserves—which requires the completion of the ratification process by all the Member States. The Russian side is hopeful that that will happen, since the ratification process is going very well in all the participating countries.
On top of that, we expect the strategy of the BRICS’ economic partnership to be adopted at the summit. It will be a progress document for the pursuit of the development of our cooperation in the pivotal domain,— the economy. Immediately after the adoption of this strategy, we plan to start elaborating a roadmap for cooperation in the field of investments. This document has the purpose of fleshing out this cooperation with interesting and well-detailed joint projects. Another major aspect in the economic field: it is planned that new axes of cooperation will be opened: mining, energy, communications and a number of other areas. We count on cooperation to facilitate the conduct of business: this includes tax policy, simplification of formalities, etc. Significant will be the events prior to the Ufa summit. First of all, one should note that on June 8 of this year, the parliamentary forum of the BRICS met for the first time. The parliamentary dimension will enable the reinforcement of the basis of cooperation among members. Another important element of the Russian presidency, which will enrich the spectrum of the summit—is the Youth Summit, which will be held in Kazan in June. This is also a new phenomenon in the development of the BRICS. The summit will enable us to bring the BRICS closer to the young generation of our countries—we know that any organization has perspectives and a future if it is supported by young people. One should also note the cooperation in the field of culture—yet another new dimension. A cooperation agreement between the BRICS countries in the field of culture will be prepared for the summit.
BRICS and World Development
The question of the significance of the BRICS for the world economy must be given special attention. It is essential for our international partners to understand: the BRICS do not intend to go for a confrontation with anybody whatsoever—neither in politics nor in the domain of finance, nor of the economy. I want to underline once again the Russian vision of the BRICS—it is a proposal to the world of a fundamentally new model of cooperation. Of a model based on going beyond the old lines of division constituted by the confrontation of blocks or by the thinking that is behind it, according to the “East-West” or “North- South” axis.
The BRICS are open to cooperation with all States, independent of their geographic origin or political aspirations. At the same time, Russia is opposed to the creation of closed economic systems that keep the countries of the BRICS at a distance. For instance, the United States categorically refused to consider the question of the admission of China to the Pacific Partnership; the same attitude was displayed towards Russia. In those circumstances, Russia believes that the response of the BRICS should be to support the system of international trade founded on the rules of the WTO, by uniting our forces. The WTO is a kind of United Nations of world trade. If it starts breaking down, it will provoke a severe trade competition, and great antagonisms won’t be long to arise. Russia is against such a scenario, and therefore pronounces itself firmly for maintaining a unified system of rules, which is the foundation of the WTO.
In respect to economic cooperation within the BRICS, the Member States are realistic: we see what is happening in today’s world. Accordingly, there is a joint desire to facilitate the cooperation between our business communities to the maximum, in order to make use of the great opportunities opened by the complementary character of our economies. For example, the new bank of the BRICS, as well as the pool of currency reserves, will, among other things, help Russia as well as all the other countries of the BRICS, to counter the illicit and politicized pressure of the West. When the bank becomes operational, the work on the major infrastructure projects and investments in the format of the BRICS will follow a growth curve and bring tangible positive results.
The market of the BRICS accounts for three billion consumers—this is more than the potential market of the free trade zone of the Pacific and of the trans-Atlantic free trade zone. Otherwise, it is the most dynamic market in the world. The BRICS need to work to lift the obstacles to their joint trade, and do so on a balanced basis.