Thursday, July 8, 2010

Russia stays clear to reform its democracy its way

A superpower in the past and a superpower of the present, Russia is undergoing a transition towards democracy but not American style democracy but a Russian style democracy as Russia wants to be its own government to the world and remain a global superpower.

This was the general understanding about Russia at a seminar titled ‘Russia’s Transition towards Democracy and Market Economy: The EU’s Responses’, organised by Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi (KU), in collaboration with the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Islamabad, at the LEJ Digital Library of KU on Wednesday.

Director Dr Axmann compared Russia with a casino where people with money and power could come and play games to their hearts content. “Corruption and mismanagement is on the rise and it seems that Putin’s Russia is unknown to me. Over 22 government security agencies are controlling the country and all of the officials are, in one way or other, connected to Putin. Cronyism is rife there. The biggest country in the world that occupies nine per cent of the earth surface, Russia is super and mega. It will come to the fold of real democracy in the course of time,” he added.

Associate Professor and Head of Department Strategic & Nuclear Studies department of the National Defence University, Islamabad, Dr Noman Omar Sattar spoke on ‘Russia’s transition from a reluctant power in 1990s to an aspiring world power of the new millennium: with focus on its foreign policy”. He pointed out that Russia had many hurdles in achieving this objective, stating: “The identity crisis and struggle between the democratic and anti-democratic forces in the country were the major factors that were de accelerating the progress of the country. Relation with USA, the sole superpower, was a challenge and Russia was facing it with various pacts and acting wisely during Balkan and Kosovo crises. Russia fears that the USA is making inroads in its backyard in the garb of war on terrorism.”

An Associate Professor, at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA Karachi), Dr Mahnaz Fatima spoke about “Economic and Trade Relations between Russia and the European Union: Problems and Prospects” and informed the audience that there was an imbalance in trade between Russia and EU from 1999 to 2009. It was 19037 million Euros in 1999 and 49706 million Euros in 2009. This entire deficit for EU coming from the import of petrol and gas from Russia. And EU is concerned about this dependency.

Dr Shabbir Ahmed Khan from the Area Study Centre, University of Peshawar, discussed the “Challenges to Democracy and Political Reform in contemporary Russia: The EU’s response to successes and failures” and pointed out that President Yelstin was interested in changing the centralised economy to market-based economy for Russia and for that he took many steps that were considered inappropriate at the time but later they proved to be right. A widely prevalent perception in the west is that there has been no genuine political and democratic transformation in Russia.

This issue has become a major obstacle in the establishment of closer relations between the EU and Russia.

Earlier, Dr Naveed Ahmed Tahir, Director ASCE, talked about the Russian concept of USA and the west and reminded the audience that Russia sees USA as an innovator but not a model for democracy.

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