'Sanctions always hurt wrong person,' open dialogue needed - Davos Forum
“I think sanctions always hurt the wrong person and, in principle, I’m against sanctions, not only against Russia but against other countries,” said Frank-Jürgen Richter, Chairman of Zurich-based Horasis. “What we really need now is a new way of dialogue where Russia can sit together with Europe and the US, and I hope in 2015 we will see a bit of a positive change.”
Richter noted a negative trend that Russian and Western companies have become more reluctant to deal with each other. However, he said that large Western enterprises are still keen on investing in Russia and such an attitude is essential for further economic development.
“We shouldn’t abandon our investment activities, because Russia needs the West and the West, more importantly, needs Russia,” he said.
Open dialogue is key in resolving the differences between Russia and the West, agrees Philippe Monnier, executive director of the Greater Geneva Berne area Economic Promotion Agency.
“In Switzerland we are very open to dialogue, we are a neutral country, we really try to be useful to everybody,” he said. “I think we have a very big openness of dialogue despite a difficult situation.”
He said a sanction war put Switzerland between two stools, as the country wanted neither to lose its established economic partner Russia, nor become a place to bypass Western restrictions.
“We have a long term friendship between Russia and Switzerland. As you know, we haven’t applied the sanctions as such,” he said. “We still don’t want to be the place for circumventing the sanctions, but we’re not applying the sanctions. So I think the Swiss investors are much more interested in all the countries to consider Russia.”
Andrew Likierman, dean of the London Business School, believes that although Russia is going through hard times, it won’t lose long-term investments.
“Of course, in the short-term, there’ll be an issue with sanctions and a feeling of instability around the oil price, but my sense is that serious investors will know these are downs, but downs are followed in the economics by ups,” he said. “I’m really confident for the long term that these investing relations will be solid.”
If you’re doing business, you cannot completely ignore the politics, he said. However, he is sure that serious investors won’t turn their back on Russia.
“Russia is a very important player on the world stage. You do not walk away from big players,” Likierman concluded.