ROAR: Medvedev’s manifest of “clever politics”

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
The Yaroslavl conference “The Modern State and Global Security” has become a rehearsal for the G20 summit in the US.

Many observers have called the political forum in the ancient Russian city an unprecedented meeting in terms of the number of participants and the scope of the topics discussed. Yaroslavl, which has a bear on its coat of arms and situated on the Volga River, had been chosen “as a symbol of Russian statehood,” Vremya Novostey daily wrote.

The organizers of the conference in Yaroslavl hope that it may become the annual international political forum, like the annual economic forum in St. Petersburg, the paper said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s address was the main event of the forum, Izvestia wrote. “The president spoke about the role and the place of the state in solving social problems, as he had done in his article ‘Russia, onward!’,” said the paper. “However, if the article is addressed to every citizen in Russia, his Yaroslavl speech could be considered as theses with which he will go to the G20 summit,” the paper said.

Another daily, Kommersant, stressed that the presence at the conference of the prime ministers of Spain and France helped Medvedev “to rehearse his speech at the G20 summit that will take place in Pittsburgh on September 24.”

Vedomosti daily also noted that “the conference in Yaroslavl was held in the spirit of the preparation for the G20 summit.” The themes of fighting the crisis are losing urgency, the paper wrote. “Now it is already clear that the G20 summit will discuss not so much the economy as the post-crisis situation in the world,” the daily quoted Dmitry Badovsky, a member of the Public Chamber, as saying.

Medvedev said at the conference that different states have the right to know more about each other. Vedomosti made a conclusion that Medvedev “does not already oppose the idea of other countries considering and criticizing Russia’s internal policies.” According to the president, “for the sake of stability and security, states should agree to be more transparent,” the paper wrote.

Medvedev himself is ready for this, even if he heads “the country which is very often criticized by other democracies,” Vremya Novostey wrote. At the same time, speaking at the conference, the president himself criticized the US for the beginning of the present economic crisis, many papers noted.

“Medvedev at the conference “tried to reinforce his image as a democrat,” Kommersant daily wrote. The paper quoted Igor Yurgens, the head of the Institute of Contemporary Development, as saying at the conference that since Medvedev was elected as president “the public discussion on the issues of democracy has risen to higher levels.”

“The period of stabilization, which was logical in the history of the country, has somewhat exhausted itself,” Yurgens said. The initiatives that Medvedev put forward “have been aimed at perfecting the Russian model of democracy,” he added. “Many have been surprised by the president’s proposals.”

Vremya Novostey, in its turn, quoted Medvedev as saying: “The modern state for me is first of all democracy.”

The participants of the conference “discussed how to solve problems of social responsibility, analyzed the variety of the democratic experience, argued about the effectiveness of global institutions and about ways of fighting terrorism and separatism,” Noviye Izvestia daily wrote.

For Russia’s delegation, the conference “has become a place to test the Kremlin’s initiatives on the new security treaty about European security and a new conception of energy security,” Gazeta daily said.

However, a verbal approval of the initiatives from the prime ministers of France and Spain, Francois Fillon and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero respectively, does not make the agreement on the European security closer, the paper said. Europe and the US do not want to change the existing security system based on NATO, Gazeta added.

Alexandr Rahr, director of the Russian/Eurasia Program of the German Council on Foreign Relations doubts that a new agreement on the European security will be successful. “The European Union and the US do not endorse Medvedev’s initiative in the security field for two reasons,” he told Gazeta daily.

“First, they consider Russia too weak to propose initiatives that change the security in the whole of Europe,” Rahr said. “Second, they are satisfied with the present security system, and their views differ from Russia’s vision.”

At the same time, observers note that there was more understanding among the participants of the conference in the economic field. They agreed that the present crisis has proved “the need to reform international financial institutions,” Gazeta wrote.

The Russian media quote Medvedev as saying that “The future belongs to ‘clever politics’.” Pavel Salin, analyst at the Center of Political Conjuncture, called Medvedev’s speech at the Yaroslavl forum and his keynote article “Russia, onward!” a “manifest” of these politics.

Salin believes that the new Medvedev conception is based on “rational democracy” – a political system which uses “instrumental, rather than value mechanisms of management.”

“In other words, the need for any innovation is considered from the point of view of its capability to solve urgent problems of a particular country, rather than from the point of view of its compliance with ‘the right democracy’,” Salin said.

According to the conception of clever politics, the standards of modern democracy should be developed at discussions, in which all the involved players take part, Salin said.

Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Effective Politics Foundation, told Vesti TV channel that the modern state “is civilized, democratic, comfortable for its citizens and not threatening to its neighbors.” The idea of the conference is Yaroslavl was connected with this statement, Pavlovsky said.

Russia is now entering “a new stage of development, the stage of the modernization of the country’s democracy, as President Dmitry Medvedev had said,” the analyst noted.

“We are open to the experience, ideas and criticism [from other countries],” Pavlovsky said. “But we want to develop jointly the standards that we want to comply.”

Democracies compete with each other, “sometimes even more successfully than other regimes,” Pavlovsky said. “Russia wants to be a modern democracy, that means that it should compete,” he added.

However, there should be an honest dialogue in the ideological field, the analyst said. The world is trying now to abandon the George Bush heritage, “when the word ‘democracy’ immediately evoked a specter of American commandos,” Pavlovsky added.

“It was not very convenient to speak in that situation, one did not feel comfortable making a discussion,” the analyst said. Now, Americans are ready for a dialogue, he added.

Sergey Borisov, RT