Coronavirus News Asia

Crisis offers chance to reset US, Russia relations

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Every year a think tank headquartered in Berlin brings together politicians, academics, and experts from around the world to discuss geopolitical and socio-economic issues on the Rhodes Island of Greece.

Named the Rhodes Forum, the annual event is regularly attended by high-calibre politicians such as the former prime minister of Israel Ehud Olmert, the former president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz and former Portuguese Minister of European Affairs Bruno Maçães.

Perhaps surprisingly, despite the ongoing tensions between Europe and Russia, one of the founders behind this think tank is Vladimir Yakunin, a prominent figure internationally and former KGB officer during Soviet times.

Once the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) Secretary at the United Nations (1985 – 1991) and the President of Russian Railways (2005 – 2015), Yakunin is known as a political scientist nowadays. Inspired by the American political scientist Samuel Huntington’s theory, Clash of Civilizations, he named his think tank Dialogue of Civilizations, with a mission “to forge shared world views through dialogue, and to contribute to fair, sustainable and peaceful world order.”

“Politicians need to rethink their approach to globalization,” says Yakunin. “Globalization has led to power imbalance, making some nations more dominant than the others. But this is simply not sustainable.”

“We are now living in a world where the United States is a leading country, not the [only] leading country. The bi-polar world has ended.”

Geopolitical game-changer

As the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak spreads globally, with the number of infection cases hitting the two million mark, this pandemic is pressing the reset button on the world economy. The OECD has downgraded growth forecasts and estimates that the global economy could grow at its slowest rate since 2009. Meanwhile, the United States — the world’s largest economy — had seen more than 6.6 million jobless claims in the week ending April 4. 

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