Pavel Zolotoryov , president of the Russian Foundation for Support of the Military Reform
Someone could characterise the alliance of the Grenoble School of Peace and the Russian Foundation for Military Reform as absurd. On the face of it our aims are completely different. But that is only on the face of it.
In reality, the problem of civil society is closely linked to the military sphere. For instance, a key point in the military reform that has not been realised so far by our military-political leadership is civil-to-military relations. These include relationships between the army and the state, the army and society, those inside the army between the citizens of a society. It is in civil society that relations between the army and the people, or those inside the armed forces, can be observed and influence of public organisations on the military can be identified. Among our guests we have representatives of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, an organisation that is not welcome at the Defence Ministry, although a very useful one. I suppose they will share their experience with us as the seminar unfolds.
Building civil society is a new task in Russia, compared with the West, where this process dates back to the ancient times. There are many reasons for it, but the main one is closely linked to religion. The western branch of Christianity stimulated inner controversy in society, which contributed to democratic development. The Catholic Church has always balanced the state. In Russia, evolution went along a different path. The Orthodox Church was a traditional ally of the state, thus, hampering the development of civil society in this country. It was traditional to place state interests above personal ones in Russia. The Communists, in their turn, consolidated this relationship, bringing it to perfection. It is not for nothing that many clergymen were KGB school graduates.
Thus, civil society in Russia is infant. Moreover, conditions of its birth are far from ideal. We are facing the necessity to strengthen the state, fine-tune state control of new democratic society. Although objective, it subjectively affects the conditions of civil society formation. The Concept of National Security says nothing about civil society. At the same time, there is a law in Russia that envisages state functions as regards facilitating the development of civil society. I doubt whether any other country can boast such a law, although they have already established civil society. The law in question is the law "On Russian Federation Security".
It reads as follows, "Citizens, public and other organisations and associations are subject for security, have rights and fulfil duties pertaining to their participation in ensuring security in line with the laws of the Russian Federation, laws of the republics - component parts of the Russian Federation, local regulations of the territories, regions, autonomous regions, and autonomous districts, adopted within their authority. The state provides legal and social protection for citizens, public and other organisations that render assistance in ensuring security in accordance with the law."
It is worth mentioning that the law defines a new treatment of security. According to the law, security is protection of vital interests of a person, society, and the state from internal and external threats.
We have the necessary law. But we lack civil society. At the same time, globalisation triggers creation of civil society institutions on the supranational level.
Globalisation takes its toll. It is common knowledge that one cannot avoid it. The world is getting transformed into a single system, in which different phenomena influence the whole system in real time, irrespective of geographical factors.
Advanced technologies facilitate formation of transnational corporations and push their activities onto a new level. Globalisation diminishes the role of the state, while the interests of transnational corporations often run counter to those of a single nation or even the whole international community. It is all the more so, considering criminal nature of some of such corporations. Their presence is most vivid in armed conflict areas. On the one hand, transnational criminal groups pursue their own purposes there, while on the other hand, they do their best to protract them, thus internationalising them. We have seen this in Kosovo and Chechnya. It is worth mentioning that not everybody realises connection between an internal armed conflict, transnational criminal groups, and international terrorism that in essence is a military stick in the hands of criminal groups. That is why we often see that our actions in Chechnya are misinterpreted.
Ultimately, the formation of civil society on the supranational level should provide balance of interests between states and transnational organisations and damp negative consequences of globalisation.
Opening our discussion, I would like to point out that we see three directions of such evolution. Firstly, processes in the industrial western countries. Secondly, building civil society in Russia. Thirdly, the creation of global civil society. The main presentations cover all three directions.
Richard PETRIS,, director of the Grenoble School of Peace
I would like to greet and thank all of you for your coming here for this clear and sunny weekend. I hope the weekend will be useful as well, as far as the results of the conference are concerned.
We are about to talk of the society we have been dreaming of. The topic is closely connected with a research study devoted to the conversion in the defence industry. We have been carrying out the research within the framework of the Union for Joint and Responsible World. The Union is a fellowship of citizens from various countries that is trying to meet the challenges we faced in the past century and those we will face in the future. Such challenges could include discrimination between the rich and the poor, men and women, children and adults, human beings and the nature.
Our research has arrived at an obvious conclusion: to live in peace or to be at war depends not only on someone's war craft or military and industrial power that backs it. The history teaches us that civil society, together with state bodies, plays an ever-growing role of an organiser. In the context of major change that embraces all continents, ours in particular, we would like to summarize our study in combination with the activity pursued by the Russian Foundation in Support of the Military Reform. The contribution of civil society to the development of humankind on the basis of pluralism cannot but concern each of us. This has just been clearly pointed out by Mr. Zolotaryov. I am glad we have so many participants here that represent different nations and, I believe, different viewpoints, which is yet another example of contemporary trends, for diversity of opinions is our treasure.
Naturally, we should take into consideration time constraints. I mean we should be disciplined, not militarily but citizenly, so that everybody could express his or her opinion. Thank you.