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10 Sep, 2010 07:16

Delegates talk global security on Day Two of Yaroslavl Forum

Dmitry Medvedev told the US to overcome what he described as "jealousy" towards Moscow's proposed new European Security deal. The Russian leader was speaking at the Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl.

Such pressing problems as global peace, security and economic modernization are on the table at the conference, which is in its second and final day.

Addressing the participants of the forum, President Medvedev said the new European Security system is vital for the modern world.

“My US counterpart, President Barack Obama, never avoids discussing this issue; he does not say that it is harmful or unnecessary,” the president said. “On the contrary, we return to it from time to time. Nonetheless, I think among our American partners a certain jealousy exists with regard to this idea."

“It seems to me that it is necessary to rise above this jealousy and try to look the truth in the eye – without the creation of this system our world will not be able to survive. We can help each other here,” he added.

The idea was proposed by President Medvedev in 2008. Explaining what the deal entails, the Russian leader said: “We need to create an institution that will bring together NATO and non-NATO members and other structures. It should be universal in nature, with all states embedding all public structures and organizations and all military alliances. It should be a global forum where security is not fragmented, where all aspects and directs of it are discussed.”

The forum’s participants have been weighing the option of using the similarities between countries in the region as a stepping stone toward a common security policy against the option of designing an entirely new framework.

Talks have highlighted the need and willingness of the countries to co-operate toward attaining common solutions.

Speaking about such a need, Brazil’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Samuel Guimaraes said BRIC countries, in particular, have common challenges uniting them in a fight toward common solutions.

We are very large countries. We have very large populations,” Guimaraes said. “So we have very similar challenges in terms of the process of development: to industrialize the country, to absorb large rural populations into a modern economy.”

It may take years to reach a resolution on the new European security treaty, believes Social Sciences professor from New York University, Craig Calhoun. Nevertheless, the Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl will inform and add ideas to that discussion, and it will add momentum to it, he says.

“At this forum there were speakers from many different countries agreeing that it was important for there to be a framework, but not agreeing about the specifics of what would be in the treaty. Russia has made a very strong and constructive proposal for the nature of this new agreement, but it will only become a real agreement when a whole number of different countries comes to some sort of understanding: should NATO be replaced or what is the role of NATO, what is the role of the other European security agreements. Now, with the new foreign policy of the EU in which it has upgraded its role as a foreign policy actor, there’s even more complexity to the discussion," Craig Calhoun says. "So I think there is no chance this can be resolved here and, in fact, no single voice dominated here at Yaroslavl. I think most people would agree with President Medvedev that the discussion is urgent, that the discussion will continue, but that we should not get upset if we don’t have the agreement in 30 days or three months.”

Day Two’s working sessions have continued to address the subject of democracy. Emmanuel Wallerstein, macro-sociologist from Yale University, who attended the session on the Standards of Democracy and Diversity of Experiences, said the participants had no luck achieving consensus.

There was a complete ‘dissensus’ on all the issues,” Wallerstein said. “Every politician in power today says that his country is democratic. However, virtually for every country in the world there are people inside the country and there are people in other countries who will say about any country in the world that it is not democratic. So obviously there is a disagreement on what the word means in the first place.”

Topics that have carried over from Day One of the Forum include terrorism, organized crime, climate change and energy security.

During one of the working sessions, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, State Duma Deputy Chairman, referenced the powerful Bilderberg Club, which holds annual conferences on global policy issues and, according to Zhirinovsky, plays a decisive role in European policy.

They get together once a year, and the decisions they make are the ones that are actually put into effect across the globe, and especially here in Europe,” Zhirinovsky said. “Their members are mostly retired politicians, including members of the European Union. This presents a problem. We must first overcome anti-Russian sentiment in Europe so we can build a new system of security and stand up to the Bilderbergs together.”

However in spite of the serious topics raised at the forum, the discussions went ahead lightheartedly.

“The participants of the forum always tell me: the one thing that the younger generations should do is, they should do a better job than we’re doing, because we end up talking and talking and talking,” reporter Tesa Arcilla told RT.

Participants of the gathering can frequently be seen smiling and laughing outside the plenary sessions, Arcilla added, or sometimes even in the plenary sessions, such as during the speech by Silvio Berlusconi.

“We had Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who said he had been misinformed on the topic that he was supposed to talk about, so basically he just went out there and started to improvise,” she said.

This little incident, however, did not make everyone particularly happy. For instance, Gerhard Mangott, Professor of Political Science at Innsbruck University, told RT he would rather listen to more of President Medvedev’s speech than to Prime Minister Berlusconi’s improvisation.

“Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi took about 30 minutes of our time just to talk about his personal fortunes and his problems with Italian courts, and I think this was highly inappropriate,” he said.

Mangott then went on to talk about the nuclear problem in the Middle East and Russia succumbing to pressure from the West to interfere in Iran’s nuclear program.