Thursday, 14 December 2017 | News today: 14

Russian economist Ginko: Support for NATO, EU is not as big as the public thinks

Some EU officials believe that they have the right to dictate what should be done in politics and forget that Macedonia is an independent, democratic state, whose government, led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, was elected in accordance with democratic procedures

I believe that the prosperity and real independence of Greece and Macedonia implies that politicians of these countries must – first of all – think about the will of majority of people of the country that democracy suggests, said Mr. Vladislav Ginko, economist of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (Moscow, Russia), frequently cited expert and author of multiple articles, in an interview with “Republika”.

Is Russia in a general crisis (not only economical), as some of the western politicians and experts claim lately?

GINKO: Russia’s economy is strong enough to withstand any economic troubles incurred somewhat by sanctions. If one compares current situation with 2009 when Russia’s GDP has declined by 7,9% the economic cooling-off this year will be moderate, only several percentage points. Russia’s ruble has undergone significant devaluation in December-January but it became actually the only one thing that could be considered as significant negative financial event. At the same time devalued ruble gave a chance to expand export of Russia’s goods and services and to boost domestic production in medium- run. The impact of devaluation of prices was visible but bearable since Russia may boast of very modest figures of unemployment that in big cities is less than 1% and less than 6% in the whole country.

There were these days a news saying that some western countries would like to join the “new IMF” financial institution established by BRICS?!

GINKO: BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) demonstrated more economic acceleration than developed countries last decade. It’s important to note that Russia in BRICS and among the absolute majority of developed countries looks as economic engine that achieved economic growth without significant increasing of debt burden of the economy. Actually, state debt is accounted for less than 5% of the GDP and total debt of all economic agents in Russia (state, companies, banks, population) is not more than 80% of GDP. This new model of economic growth that roots in strong confidence of population into governmental politics is one of the brilliant example of alternative way of economic development, without vast unemployment and big indebtedness. Other countries from BRICS has its own experiences of economic development and necessity to voice their position in the financial world order brought about the creation of special BRICS financial institutions such as bank and fund. I’d stress that BRICS is open for economic pluralism and will make the financial world multi-polar one not only when we speak about the role of US dollar in international trade but also in the realm of economic thought and policy.

What is the Russian strategic agenda in South-East Europe, is it true that Moscow would like to expand its zones of influence in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and prevent further NATO expansion in the region in that manner? How would you comment this?

GINKO: Russia’s agenda in South-Eastern Europe is the same as for any other region of the world. Russia will expand and develop economic, cultural, social relations with all countries that abide by democratic principles that means: you know and promote your own interests and at same time you understand and respect interests of your partner and don’t act as a big player who dictates everything and lives only your interests neglecting genuine interests of other countries.

You may see that now Russia actively develops gas and oil relations with Asian countries such as China. In Europe Moscow and Ankara have moved to the Turkish stream project and Macedonia benefits from this project since now Russia is building gas pipeline in Macedonia. Moscow is ready to be pragmatic and awaits it from its partners. As far as it concerns possible accession of Macedonia to NATO and EU then it’d be important to see that movement in this direction is genuine will of overwhelmingly majority of Macedonian population.

Many claim that Russia is behind the Greek veto for Macedonia’s membership to NATO?! How realistic is this, when we know that Greece is in partnership with the West and member of NATO and EU?

GINKO: It’s well known that Greece is NATO and EU member and their decision-making is somewhat influenced by Brussels and Washington. At the same time, Greece is independent state. Bringing these two postulates together means that any discussions between Greece and Macedonia over the name of the country is only discussion between these two countries with obvious influence of NATO and EU bodies.

At the same time, we see that some politicians in Brussels and in Washington will intrude into internal politics of Greece and Macedonia and will almost directly dictate many decisions. I believe that the prosperity and real independence of Greece and Macedonia implies that politicians of these countries must – first of all – think about the will of majority of people of the country that democracy suggests.

Following the accusation of the Macedonian Prime Minister that he prevented coup d’état organised by the head of opposition, unlike before, there was a strong message of support from Moscow for the Macedonian Government, which was different than the message sent by the Western powers. What does it mean in times when 90% of the population are in favor of membership to NATO and EU?

GINKO: I have results of some closed polls showing the strong rejection of joining Macedonia NATO and rising suspicion of the necessity of joining EU as a real step towards economic prosperity. EU is a big project whose success is under big question when we see what happens with countries joining this union. Nevertheless, EU has heavily promoted that Greece may leave euro and their example may be a trigger for the same steps from other countries. To be part of EU and not apply euro – what’s a reason? Sometimes it looks like that is the easy way to bring countries if they are members of EU to cooperation with NATO. But, NATO is 100% not the answer to economic issues of European countries. Moreover, accession to NATO means that new member must spend up to 2% of its GDP on NATO’s needs – huge sum for any economy especially if your country has surmounting unemployment rate and budget deficit at 3,5% of GDP.

There is alternative to EU – Eurasian Economic Union that is open for cooperation with other countries. Anybody who checks economic and financial figures of this union may compare with the same parameters of EU and draw conclusions. I believe you’ll see benefits of Eurasian Economic Union in terms of trade figures and investments. Macedonia is already understanding how important it is to cooperate with Russia in energy  sphere: it brings millions of dollars of investments, new jobs, it gives cheaper energy and provide fundamentals for sustainable economic development of Macedonia. At the same time, it’s only one page of huge book of recent cooperation between Macedonia and Russia. If you imagine that Macedonia joins Eurasian Union, it’d be even more investments amounted to billions dollars from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan and thousands more jobs. The choice is up to Macedonian government.

How well does Russia understand that Macedonia, despite the shared religious and cultural values, is seeing itself in the Western institutions and that the only possible links to Moscow might be economic?

GINKO: Eurasian Economic Union is economic union while EU membership means that any member country gives a huge part of its decision-making process to Brussels. Moscow believes that the core Russia’s interest is to develop relations with all the world. You know Russia and EU historically have deep economic, social and cultural relations. Moscow believes that sanctions are not the right way to develop relations and cannot be substitute for dialogue and Moscow sees growing support for this point of view among European business, people and some politicians.

Many believe that the political crisis in Macedonia is due to the beginning of the project Turkish Stream that should pass via Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and finally to Hungary. How correct this might be?

GINKO: I think such idea is totally wrong since NATO’s interest to bring Macedonia to its membership became especially voiced last year before Turkish Stream project was envisaged. And when this will of NATO was voiced we’ve seen a rise in opposition movement in Macedonia, as well as pressure exerted by some officials of EU that behave in the interests of NATO. Some EU officials believe that they have the right to dictate what should be done in politics and forget that Macedonia is an independent, democratic state, whose government, led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, was elected in accordance with democratic procedures.

One can recall pre-Maidan Ukraine, when then President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich who was elected according to democratic procedures and was praised by EU officials as democratic elected President of Ukraine. Then, those same EU officials – after several years started – to make claims that Mr. Yanukovich became illegitimate. It’s a dangerous play and Moscow constantly raises its voice to condemn such practice of determining who is legitimate or illegitimate.

Is is true that Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Moldova, Transnistria are on the line of fire between US and Russia as US secretary of state Kerry said recently? Should we be worried about the stability and security of Europe?

GINKO: These words of US Secretary of State John Kerry are very regrettable since they show that some politicians in US White House lives by the standards of the Cold War that was already ended many years ago. I believe that NATO as military organisation poses real risk for the stability of security of Europe by their recent exercises. For the all Russia’s history there was no such open-minded and deeply interested in development of relations with European countries government as current power in Russia.

What is the best case scenario for Ukraine as seen from Moscow. New proposal from Kiev for autonomy for Donbas sounds like a light in the tunnel?

GINKO: As far as it concerns Ukraine this country demonstrates the real and regrettable case of US involvement in internal processes of another countries. We all know a number of countries where US administration was involved in internal affairs and if you research what happened with these states after color revolutions and so on you’ll discover in all cases that you face economic and political disaster in these countries as aftermath. I’d like to stress: in all cases events such as Maidan in Ukraine brought countries into total chaos.

Now it’s time for all countries and mass-media in the world condemn undemocratic so called colour revolutions as absolute evil political instrument that was applied several times by the some politicians in USA as a tool for to reach geopolitical interests. Ukraine lost its independence and now its steps are orchestrated by some well-known politicians in USA who should be accountable for tragic developments in Ukraine. It’s worth to stress that overwhelming majority of US business and many Americans rejects such policy of US White House and prefer a dialogue and cooperation with Russia over the language of sanctions. I see the same situation in EU when I speak with people from various European countries. I believe that we all are interested in stability and security. There is always time for dialogue. ¤

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By: Goran Momiroski

Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Vladislav Ginko