IIS launches Dialogue on Urgent Issues

IIS launches Dialogue on Urgent Issues

30 September 2020

The MGIMO Institute for International Studies has launched the Dialogue on Urgent Issues, a course of academic debates on pressing political issues. The inaugural meeting was held on September 30 under the topic “Time to Rethink American Russia Policy. Discussing the Open Letter by 103 American Politicians and Experts”.

The Dialogue on Urgent Issues is conducted as part of the IIS international cooperation development program and is aimed at promoting trustworthy exchange of opinions among leading experts, researchers, and diplomats on the most pressing issues on the international agenda.

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Andrey Baykov, Vice-Rector for Research and Global Engagement, noted that “MGIMO maintains a continuous channel of communication with experts from around the globe, many foreign participants of the event being our longtime friends, visiting professors, and lecturers. These discussions help us to figure out what foreign policy changes are genuinely needed in order to improve relations between our countries”.

The point of departure for the inaugural event was an open letter “It’s Time to Rethink Our Russia Policy”, co-signed by over one hundred American experts and policy-makers. This letter provoked a response from many politicians and researches in the United States, as well as in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. MGIMO Rector Dr. Anatoly Torkunov and Igor Ivanov, President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (1998-2004), published their comments as well.

Dr. Robert Legvold, one of the authors of the initial letter, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, joined the meeting via Zoom and presented his main recommendations for improving US-Russia relations. Rose Gottemoeller, Deputy Secretary-General of NATO (2016-2019) and Thomas Graham, co-founder of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies Program at Yale University and Director for Russia on the National Security Council (2004-2007), also spoke on behalf of the authors of the letter.

Russian expert community was presented by Dr. Vladimir Baranovsky, MGIMO Professor and Head of the IMEMO Research Direction, Gen. Evgeny Buzhinsky, Vice-Chair of the RIAC and President of the PIR Center Executive Board, Amb. Vladimir Lukin, Senator of the Russian Federal Assembly and Russian Ambassador to the United States (1992-1994), Dr. Sergey Oznobishchev, MGIMO Professor and IMEMO Section Head, and Dr. Ivan Timofeev, Program Director at the RIAC.

The experts discussed the necessity of a realistic mutual perception in the bilateral relations, the potential for political compromises, and the revival of arms control mechanisms, as well as paid attention to certain areas of interaction, such as nuclear war prevention, conflict settlement, and sanctions.

"While preparing for the dialogue, we analyzed open letters by our colleagues and structured their key arguments, laying the ground for a fruitful and lively discussion. The debate resulted in recommendations which can be addressed both to American and Russian policy-makers," said Prof. Alexander Nikitin, Director of the IIS Euro-Atlantic Security Center and Project Leader of the Dialogue on Urgent Issues.

Among other participants were the IIS Director Dr. Andrey Sushentsov, the Institute’s Leading Research Fellows Dr. Sergey Markedonov and Dr. Ivan Safranchuk, Prof. Oksana Gaman-Golutvina, MGIMO Professor and President of Russian Political Science Association, Dr. Mikhail Troitskiy, Dean of the MGIMO School of Government and International Affairs, Prof. Aleksey Voskresensky, Director of the MGIMO Center for Comprehensive Chinese Studies and Regional Projects, researchers from IMEMO, Moscow State University, political observers, as well as foreign politicians and experts, such as Oxford and Princeton researchers, senior representatives of German, Italian, and British research foundations, experts form Kazakhstan, China, Bulgaria, and diplomats from the Embassies of Czech Republic, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

“By carrying out such events, the MGIMO IIS seeks to establish an international dialogue on key issues of regional and international security, which contributes to the MGIMO development strategy and the IIS five-year reform roadmap”, – notes Dr. Andrey Sushentsov.

The meetings under this project are expected to be held once a month. The next meeting is scheduled for October 15 and will cover the situation in and around Transnistria. The project’s initiator and coordinator is the IIS Leading Research Fellow Dr. Yulia Nikitina.

Institute for International Studies