Economic reforms rather than a turn to the East are at the top of Russia's current agenda, Civil Initiatives Committee Chairman Alexei Kudrin has said.
"The very posing of the question, either the East or the West, would be incorrect for us. Other theses are now crucial to the Russian future. We can deliberate on this subject a lot but real economic reform will require economic growth rates of at least 4-5%," Kudrin said at a Civil Initiatives Committee meeting on Tuesday.
Given the circumstances, even 3% economic growth is an overwhelming task for the Russian government, which makes geographic disputes not quite relevant, he said. "The stagnant economy is creating a serious risk for a surge in social and economic tensions," Kudrin said.
He presented a report co-authored by Civil Initiatives Committee experts about a new role and stand for Russia on the international scene.
"The starting point of this report was the turn to the East proclaimed by the national administration. Debates on the subject were stepped up in 2014 after the beginning of the Ukrainian events. Then came the sanctions, which led to appeals for a drastic reorientation from the West to the East," Kudrin said.
He said the experts analyzed the possibility of such a reorientation and the need for doing so, he said.
"We tried to take a broader view of the East. This is not just China but also other countries. Russia needs to expand its number of eastern partners in the field of trade and investment cooperation to the maximum," Kudrin said.
Many have been overlooking the fact that "in the East, Russia will meet the West just the same," he said.
"This report aims to diagnose the sociopolitical and economic system of the country, and to demonstrate that it is not possible to apply a plaster to sore spots, we need to take a serious look into what has been happening and to find comprehensive solutions to problems," Kudrin said.
The report said that a reasoned foreign economic strategy of Russia in East Asia remained a correct vector but it could not replace connections with the West. In the opinion of the authors, the next decade will witness the start of a transition to a new technological mode in which profound innovations will be introduced and rivalry on the new global markets of high-tech goods and services will grow.
The report noted that Russia's neighbors in the West and the East are already spreading new economic technologies. Unless Russia takes this path, "its turn to the East and steps towards the non-resource reintegration of the Russian economy with the global economic space will bear no fruit," the report said.
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