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19 August 2022

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čt, 11.10.2018

RUSSIA AND THE WEST: PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED JOINTLY

OLEG CONDOR, Business mir #20 - 2011-10 MAIL PRINT 
As the old saying goes, you can’t dispute the facts. The steady increase in cooperation and development between Russia and Western nations is undeniable.
Photo: Itar-Tass
The vectors of this growing cooperation cover a broad variety of areas – economics, politics, security, scientific partnerships and cultural relations. However, it has not always been smooth sailing despite the fact that these cooperative efforts have been going on for decades now. There have been issues, complications and occasional impasses in virtually every area of cooperation. For example, let’s take a particularly serious dilemma – the financial crisis. It would have been impossible for Western countries and Russia to even attempt to face the situation alone. However different the economies of Russia, Europe and the U.S. may be, they are undeniably and intrinsically linked. Therefore the financial crisis that hit the U.S. in 2008 immediately spread to the European continent and the economic hurricane did not spare Russia either. But the peculiarity of this crisis lies in the fact that it neither complicated nor even caused a ripple in Moscow’s relations with its European partners. It rather rallied them around a common – and critical – cause.
This complicity in facing challenges is due to the fact that economic structures in Russia and Europe complement each other. Therefore despite the upheavals the crisis engendered, new business opportunities between Russia and the West have been growing. It is worth noting the significance of the fact that during the crisis, Russia and European nations reached a speedy agreement on the volumes of oil and gas needed and settled on prices that suited both parties. Figures suggest that even during a particularly difficult period, when banks and businesses in Europe were closing, the total volume of trade and economic exchanges remained stable. A similar situation occurred after the collapse of oil supplies to Europe caused by the recent political upheavals in North Africa. Russia consequently increased its production volumes of ‘black gold’ – thereby supplying Europe with the energy resources to which it had lost access. Similar conclusions can be drawn when considering cooperation between Russia and Switzerland which – despite the hardships of the crisis – has developed and continues to increase steadily. The amount of traded goods regularly increases by about 30% per year. Relations between the two countries can honestly be considered very good, which in itself is a solid foundation for engendering future cooperation in the trade, finance, business and scientific sectors.
Despite all the positive results along with the promise of a bright future for cooperation between Russia and the Western world, the partnerships have experienced some issues that hindered progress. Both Western and Russian businessmen are particularly concerned about administrative limitations – which are often unjustified – as well as restrictions on quotas and other similar barriers currently impeding trade and progress. These measures are obviously intended to protect national enterprises but they occasionally go further than necessary. For example, the Swiss are specifically concerned about copyright and intellectual property protection issues in Russia and Moscow does not discount such claims but takes a pragmatic approach to resolving the problems. Among the issues on the table in terms of Russia’s diplomatic relations with Europe and the United States is the wait for a decision on a visa-free policy. Step by small step, the two sides are moving towards a resolution to the problem. On its part, Russia is ready to introduce the policy immediately but only if it is reciprocal. Western countries are not ready to take that particular step although some European nations, such as Italy, support the speedy establishment of visa-free relations with Russia. Once the current visa system is abolished, there will be an increase in tourism between Russia and the West with tourist agencies estimating that the number of Russian tourists in Europe will double. The new policy will also open up a wealth of opportunities for scientific, cultural and sporting exchanges which are currently constrained by the visa policy as it stands today. Science and technology are yet other important areas of cooperation between Russia and Western countries. There have been no serious issues there as all the nations involved are highly motivated and there is a mutual will to ameliorate scientific exchanges and contacts. Another undisputed fact is that the Russia's Skolkovo Innovation Centre – an ultra-modern science and research facility for developing and commercialising new technologies – generated significant interest in both Europe and the USA.
This serves as an overview of the progress that has been made in terms of business cooperation between Russia and the West. These cooperative efforts have proven to be evidently successful and have yielded obvious achievements in some areas but have also shed light on some problem areas. Over the many years since interaction between Russia and the West began, the force of mutual political will has shown that it can resolve any issues.
OLEG CONDOR, Business mir #20 - 2011-10  MAIL PRINT 
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Ежедневные новости и аналитика из Швейцарии и Европы, политика, экономика, интервью

Daily news and analytics from Switzerland and Europe, policy, economy, interview