Sunday, October 02, 2005

The EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table

On October 3, the EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table will be held, in parallel with the EU-Russia Summit in London. What is the EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table?

The Industrialists’ Round Table (IRT) was founded at the EU-Russia Summit in July 1997. IRT gives advise on business and investment in Russia to the EU Commission and the Russian government. Also, it helps EU-Russian business partnership.

I wrote a post, “Russian Democracy in Danger: Carnegie Endowment Policy Brief by Former Swedish Diplomat” before. In the policy brief, the author insisted that the West stand firmly against Putin’s authoritarianism, while promoting cooperation in the areas of common interests like non-proliferation and energy resource development. Fortunately, Russia needs nuclear reduction. Unlike Iran, it will not expand nuclear arsenals with oil revenue.

Therefore, close partnership between EU and Russian business will be a great help for US-led effort to democratize Russia. There are many areas for economic cooperation between the EU and Russia. Energy resources, like oil and natural gas, are the most important. Also, Russo-European cooperation in finance is the key to expand mutual trade and investment. Moreover, Russia’s high-tech and IT industries are on a high level. Aerospace and military technologies since the Soviet era are top class in the world. Russia has a great potential for the West, as a partner in energy supply, new market, high-tech, and IT fields.

This EU-Russia Industrialists’ Round Table is backed up by a private company, Eventica. This company has been organizing many conferences and opportunities to exchange mutual viewpoints between the EU and Russia. In addition, Eventica publishes periodicals to provide information for Western businessmen to support their business in Russia. A quarterly journal, called “Russian Investment Review” offers information about the Russian market and economy. An annual “Russian Index” introduces 50 key persons in Russian politics and business.

People focus on the meeting between Tony Blair, EU Chairman, and Vladimir Putin. However, cooperation between private sectors on both sides is important as well. In order to promote democracy in Russia, while pursuing mutual cooperation, private sectors should be more active.

Finally, Japan must keep up with the US and the EU to promote democracy and pursue cooperation. This will be helpful to stop the Russo Chinese alliance, and resolve the Russo-Japanese territorial dispute.