Gerda Henkel Forum “Values and Interests”

Gerda Henkel Forum

"Values and Interests in Communications between Russia and the West"

25-26 April 2019

While the 2018 Gerda Henkel Forum was held in London and was directed towards the British community of professional, in 2019, the forum in Moscow involves Russian policy-makes, practitioners and professionals. The main aims and objectives of this event fall under the general conceptual purpose of Gerda Henkel Forum:

  • To reduce the level of misunderstanding and misinterpretations in the relations between Russia and the West.
  • To expose the community of policy-makers and mass media to ideas, concepts and data that challenge commonly established misperceptions.
  • To create important networks between academics, media and policy-makers.

The Forum brought together more than 30 leading scholars and experts from the UK, Russia and Germany. They discussed the role of values and interests in communication between Russia and the West and how they might be improved. The Forum included 7 panels that focused on various related topics.

Values and Interests in Public Opinion Polls

Research Presentation

The Forum started with the presentation of Simon Weiss  from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. He presented Security Radar 2019: Wake-up call for Europe!the results of a representative public opinion polls in seven countries: Germany, France, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

The full report can be found here.

The Role of Trust in Relations

between Russia and the West

Following the 2018 Forum in London that focused on the roots of mistrust between Russia and the West, this panel discussed the possible ways of communication to improve the situation. Contemporary business, cultural and educational practices demonstrate that mutual trust can be achieved, unobstructed by the different interpretations of global agenda and perceptions of political events.

Furthermore, despite the lack of trust, the world of the 21st century faces great problems that can only be solved through a close cooperation between Russia and the West. The international terrorism, the climate change, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – these are only few among many other issues that signify the necessity of the dialogue, and, therefore, the reestablishment of trust.

Values and Interests in Communications

between Russia and the West

Contemporary political communications are based on different foundation used to establish, promote and strengthen national interests. These foundations are commonly associated with different schools of governance, policy making and statecraft. Values are sometimes seen as a tool to achieve strategic interests, thus turning values into supportive rhetoric in the process of domestic and international political communication.

There is no agreement between representatives of different governance schools, let alone policy makers, on how the core values of a nation are formed, established and used in political communication. Recent events demonstrate that some values, previously thought as unalterable, can be put away, if they interfere with achieving national interests.

Moreover, in the atmosphere of tense relationships between different countries in general, and Russia and the West in particular, even minor differences in values and interests are often exaggerated to alienate counterparts and form negative image of otherwise acceptable actions.

This panel aims to discuss the perceived difference between national interests and values in the Russia-West relations.

Military Strategic Culture and Image Mirroring in

Military Communications between Russia and the West

The term strategic culture describes predispositions of different military powers towards the role of force in international relations. In other words, strategic culture refers to a nation’s traditions, values, attitudes, patterns of behaviour, habits, symbols, achievements and particular ways of adapting to the environment and solving problems with respect to the threat or use of force.

While strategic culture defines the set of attitudes and beliefs held within a military establishment concerning the political objective of war and the most effective strategy to achieve it, it also defines how this establishment perceives the enemy – its power, goals and strategies.

This panel emphasised three interconnected questions about strategic culture. First it focused on the methodological question of whether there can be a group strategic culture (e.g., NATO, EU, CSTO) and what requirements should pre-exist to form such a  group culture (e.g., shared history, shared interests, shared values, common threat, one dominant culture). Secondly it explored the nature of the Russian and (if it exists) NATO’s strategic cultures. Finally, it discussed the problem of Image Mirroring when both Russia and the West evaluate, assess and predict strategies, aims and means of each other.

Values and Interests in Russia-EU Energy Diplomacy

Pipelines of Influence or Interdependence?

The fast growing energy markets in the EU are characterised by rising demand for clean, cheap and reliable source of natural resources that and Russia seems ready to deliver. On the one hand, new strategic pipelines projects have been planned and built to supply natural gas to the EU.

On the other, these seemingly mutual-profitable proposals have become more and more politicised, accusing Russia of building its political control over Europe by making Europe dependable on Russian energy resources. Moreover, the lack of agreement among EU members and their inability to form a distinct policy for or against new strategic pipelines projects, significantly contributed to the politicisation of this issue in the relations between Russia and the EU.

Meanwhile, the total amount of natural resources that Russia can supply to the EU through existing infrastructure is limited. A failure to complete new pipeline projects may force Russia to redirect its natural resources towards more open Asian markets. This might leave Europe to supplement the depleting supplies by more expensive deliveries of LNG from the US and the Middle East, thus, possibly challenging the competitiveness of the EU industry in rapidly changing markets.

Values and Interests in Cyberspace

The Role of Governments, Corporations and Users in

Fragmentation and Nationalisation of the Internet

The Internet was originally seen as an unrestricted information space that encourages free exchange of ideas, technologies, views and other types of content, providing tight integration between informational resources. Nowadays, however, it does not seem to be the case. Instead, in contemporary political and security discourse, the Internet is seen as a threat or as an asset, when different parts are shaped by different actors (state and non-state actors, IT corporations and other agencies).

During this transformation, personal information has turned into a trade good. Big data analysis routines turned this data into an important asset, valuable for different applications from marketing tools and targeted advertising to shaping public opinion during elections and public events.

State actors are joining this game too, brining in different views on internet governance, limits of national cyberspace and other regulations. While two general opposite trends are now seen in internet governance on global level: deregulation or nationalisation, there are some parties that are  looking for an equilibrium between these two.

This panel discussed the evolution of contemporary Internet governance introduced by state and non-state actors.

The Role of Values and Interests in

the Revival of Sanctions and Tariffs in the 21st Century

Sanctions and counter-sanctions have become a new norm in contemporary international relations, despite the fact that their effectiveness is often questioned. On the one hand, an attempt to achieve certain political goals by economically punishing a whole state seems to be realistic. On the other, the history of such attempts shows that they were rarely productive.

The role of sanctions and tariff policies obviously extends their declared political goals against targeted states. First they are often used as a tool of strategic communications to influence not only the directly targeted countries, but also other parts of different markets, within certain political coalitions, geographical regions or established trade routes. Secondly, there is an assumption that sanctions might also have a stimulating effect on domestic markets, encouraging a reevaluation of exiting trade routes, increase in own production and domestic markets growth.

This panel explored the role of sanctions and tariffs in contemporary international relations in general, and in the relations between Russia and the West in particular.