• Position : Chairman of the Executive Board
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
  • Position : Consultant, "Global & Regional Security: New ideas for Russia" Program
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
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The annual meeting of the Centre russe d'etudes politiques took place


GENEVA, FEBRUARY 20, 2017. PIR PRESS — “So, is it true that the Trump victory has opened up a window of opportunity for Russia’s relations with the United States? Not quite. Firstly, the window is so narrow that it looks more like a cat flap. Secondly, it’s been left ajar for a while rather than being thrown wide open. The moment that we are observing now should best be defined as “the flap of opportunity”. Today is the most appropriate time to discuss the real opportunities for real improvement of strategic relations.” – Dr. Vladimir A. Orlov, Founder & Special Advisor of the PIR Center, the Head of the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

“From deadlock to uncertainty: Russia, Europe and the United States after Trump’s victory”. This was the main topic of the annual meeting of the Centre russe d'etudes politiques, which took place in partnership with the Trialogue Club International in Geneva at the restaurant Vieux Bois. Format: business lunch. But already during the cold snacks, it becomes clear that the topics for discussion are hot. And in the “menu”, which was announced by the director of the Trialogue Club Dr. Vadim Kozyulin, presiding at the meeting, — international security scenarios for 2017.

What should Russia expect from the new president and the new U.S. administration? And what should the new U.S. president expect from Russia? Is tandem “Putin-Trump” - a myth, a reality, or an opportunity? And if it is indeed an opportunity, does it mean that Russia should “be carried away” by the United States and “forget” about Europe and turn away from China, for which Trump cherishes no kind feelings. “Quite the contrary, - said at the meeting Vladimir Orlov — Russia will be perceived seriously by the United States, only when it will repair its relations with its Western neighbor — Europe. And with its Eastern neighbor — China — Russia at the moment just needs to strengthen the strategic cooperation”.

Vladimir Orlov has listed seven priority areas of possible trends of the strategic dialogue between Russia and the United States: global counterterrorism efforts; strategic nuclear arms control; prevention of the the proliferation of nuclear weapons; prevention of the arms race in cyberspace and the outer space; collaboration on a new security architecture on the European continent; improvement of the situation in the Middle East; revitalization of   the trade and economic, and reanimation of the humanitarian cooperation. On the eve of the meeting the media partner of the Centre russe Swiss newspaper Nasha published the main points of Vladimir Orlov’s report.

Chairman of the PIR Center Executive Board, Lieutenant-General Evgeny Buzhinskiy shared with the audience possible scenarios of the “repairing” of European security in 2017. The expert paid special attention to the military and political aspects: “Compromises are possible. But only when Europe itself will have the political will, when European leaders will speak with the distinct voice”.

Evgeny Buzhinskiy was quite reserved in his estimates on the perspectives: “No, I am not a pessimist. But the experience teaches one to be a realist”. Russia, according to the expert, is ready to improve relations with Europe... but without compromising its own security and not under pressure from overseas: “At the European home we are able to sort things through ourselves”.

It is a dessert time already, but the questions keep pouring in. Now — from the audience. In this case from the dining tables, where members of the Centre russe and guests of the meeting gathered: Ambassadors to the international organizations in Geneva, high-ranking diplomats, Geneva bankers, businessmen, lawyers, journalists, security experts from Belarus, China, Finland, Italy, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Switzerland, USA, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the headquarters of NATO… and the members of the Centre russe (some of them with ten years of “track record”), and invited guests. The head of the Arab League Delegation at the United Nations Office at Geneva Ambassador Sameh Aboul-Enin, financier Peter Schmidt, the Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) Jarmo Sareva, Managing Director of Banque Cramer Henry Bandel, lawyer David Providoli and Ambassador of Montenegro Milorad Šćepanović — all of them are united in their interest in the behavior of the triangle “Russia — U.S. — Europe” in 2017 and, of course, what would Russia do in this triangle. But the questions from the audience and then on the sidelines are not limited to this “triangle”: they are about Syria, about Ukraine, about arms control in Europe, about cybersecurity, about sanctions and counter-sanctions and when they will be lifter — in general, about everything where Russia is “involved” both as a subject and as an object. And as an “exporter of global security”, - at least that is how Vladimir Orlov characterized it in his comments.

Judging by the questions, “international Geneva” is especially curious about the Middle-Eastern policy of Russia. “Our country should strengthen its connections with Iran, strictly prevent attempts by Saudi Arabia to kindle the flames of conflict in the region by their financial infusions, and in the future – work towards stabilization of the situation in Syria, without compromising its own interests in the region, which have long term value”, - says Vladimir Orlov.

“Is it Trump’s victory has opened up the window of opportunity for Russia's relations with the United States? – wonders Vladimir Orlov. - Not quite. Firstly, the window is so narrow that it looks more like a cat flap or as they say in Russia - fortochka. Secondly, it’s been left ajar for a while rather than being thrown wide open. The moment that we are observing now should best be defined as “the flap of opportunity”. Vladimir Dal in his dictionary determined  this word of German origin as “the door at the window ... which opens by itself.” And — I shall add — it shuts by itself as well. Therefore, today is the most appropriate time to discuss the real opportunities for the real improvement of strategic relations between Russia and the United States”. 

Summarizing the meeting, Vadim Kozyulin noted: “It is becoming crystal clear that the dialogue on European security, on rebuilding the bridges between Russia and Europe, on creating a new security architecture — requires to be continued. Therefore, in 2017 during our meetings and projects we will pay even closer attention to the issues of shaping a new European security architecture. We will pay attention to the strengthening of Russian-Swiss dialogue on security issues; of course, there are positive perspectives here. We will help Swiss and European audience to get to know better the different points of view on Russia's foreign policy”. 

For questions on the activities of the Cetre russe and the Trialogue Club International please, contact the Centre’s secretariat in Geneva by phone: +41 79 736 90 34 or in Moscow by phone: +7 (985) 764-98-96 or email: [email protected]