ROAR: Russia strengthens ties with Argentina, BRIC partners

The Russian president has visited Argentina and is attending the BRIC Summit in Brazil, further strengthening Russia’s presence in South America.

On April 14, Dmitry Medvedev met with his Argentinean counterpart Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner during the first official visit of Russia’s head of state to Argentina.

The visit happened in the year of the 200th anniversary of Argentina’s statehood and the 125th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The ties between Russia and Argentina “have arrived at a new level,” Medvedev said, describing them as “relations that are mature, relations that are a strategic partnership.”

Moscow considers Argentina one of Russia’s key partners in Latin America, observers noted, adding that Medvedev concentrated mainly on economic issues in Buenos Aires. The two presidents signed a number of agreements in different fields.

“If there is a possibility, we should visit friendly countries,” a source in the Russian delegation told RBC daily. “It is a highly profitable market, and we should fight for it and try to strengthen our positions there.”

“Prior to Medvedev’s visit to Argentina it was estimated that more than 20% of the energy in that far country is developed with equipment produced in Russia,” Kommersant daily said. This figure may be increased, the paper added.

Russia is now paying more attention to cooperation with Latin American countries, many analysts note. Some observers, however, say that it may be difficult to fulfill all the projects.

“Recently we have been be carried away by Latin America,” said director of the National Energy Security Fund Konstantin Simonov. “I think we should think over the expediency of such projects,” he told website.

Russia has a lot of its own projects that need investment, the analyst believes. “At the same time, we pour gigantic sums into oil production in Venezuela,” he said. “It seems that we are seeking foreign investors for Russia, but we are investing in Venezuela,” Simonov stressed.

Atomic energy is “a more interesting variant,” the analyst added. “The question is, however, if Argentina is ready to pay for these projects,” he noted. “Many of the projects we are trying to fulfill at the external market are based on Russia’s loans.” It is not clear if Russia will have enough resources because it has similar projects in Europe, India and China, the analyst added.

At the same time, Russia is interested in studying the experience of Argentina’s and Brazil’s handling of the financial crisis, observers say. The measures taken by the Russian authorities are in many ways similar to those taken by the two countries the president is visiting now, RBC daily said.

These topics, and first of all reforming international financial institutions, will be also discussed at the BRIC summit in Brazil where Medvedev will meet President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh, and China’s President Hu Jintao. The group’s member states want to have stronger representation in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In his article written on the eve of the forum, Medvedev expressed confidence in a great future for the cooperation of BRIC countries. He also called the BRIC summit “a young forum that nevertheless has gained great international recognition from the outset.”

BRIC itself intends to become an international institution, Gazeta daily said. “After its second summit, the group may turn into a full-fledged international organization,” it noted, adding that Russia is also proposing to hold annual BRIC summits.

“If BRIC will develop a common stance, this organization may actually become a serious bloc at least in the framework of the Group of Twenty,” believes president of the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysis Aleksandr Konovalov.

The BRIC countries represent the major part of the world’s population and they have a strong potential of resources, Konovalov told Gazeta. “From this point of view, these are countries to be reckoned with,” he said. “But the question is if they will be able to develop a common opinion.”

The G20 group does not need any additional internal constructions, and it is itself a club rather than an institution, the analyst thinks. “Economic and political weight of the G20 is such that whatever it recommends will be a strong direction and the rest of the world will not be able to oppose.” BRIC does not have such possibilities, he noted.

Although the Russian authorities believe in the perspectives of the BRIC format, Konovalov doubts that the group may turn into a full-fledged institute, the daily said. “Initially, these countries united on the basis of highest growth rates, but now the situation has changed," the analyst noted.

The four countries do not have strong geographical or economic links, and their levels of turnover are too different, Konovalov noted. “However, building formal relations may help them to develop mutual policies for countries that seek a place among the developed countries,” he stressed.

The BRIC member states have probably the most considerable potential for development, said director of the Center for Political Conjuncture Aleksey Chesnakov. In the most advanced industries that directly depend on breakthrough innovations, they claim to be the future world leaders, he wrote in newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

At the same time, the problems of these four countries are equal to their possibilities, the analyst said. “The main one is the rising gap between the level of development of the key industries and the social structure that lags behind and is archaic, as well as the low quality of life of the main part of the population,” he stressed.

The BRIC states are not going to turn into modern and Western-like comfortable societies, but “they have other ways which are not evident even to them,” Chesnakov noted. The coming summit should become an important stage on the path of understanding, he believes.

“The leaders of the BRIC countries should give answers to questions about vectors of the social development of their countries or at least demonstrate the understanding of mutual challenges or threats, as well as the readiness for any mutual actions,” the analyst said.

Sergey Borisov
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT