Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Moscow City Will Remain a Foreign Policy Player, Russian Analyst Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 13 – Even though President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin want a manager rather than a politician as mayor of the Russian capital, the incoming Moscow chief will continue to play a major foreign policy role, albeit one not as “extravagant” as that of former mayor Yuri Luzhkov, according to a Russian analyst.
Luzhkov was by turn famous and infamous, Moscow State University expert Aleksandr Karavayev says, for his foreign policy pronouncements, including his calls for Siberian river diversion to Central Asia and the restoration of Russian control of the Crimea. And the current tandem does not want to see his replacement making such declarations.
But Karavayev, a specialist on the former Soviet space, points out, Moscow’s new mayor by virtue of the importance of the Russian capital not only for the Russian Federation but for all the post-Soviet states as well as for many foreign investors will continue to have a major foreign policy role to play (
Given the requirement that the new mayor conform to current political realities and adopt “a Medvedev-style” approach, few have focused on this aspect of the work of the future mayor, Karavayev notes, but Moscow centrality, its role as “not simply the capital” but “the first and main display case” of Russia, means that this aspect of the new incumbent will be important.
Moreover, the Moscow State specialist continues, there is every reason to think that the importance of the capital is only going to increase, something that means the new mayor will need to be able to carry out this foreign policy task efficiently and effectively and in this way be the implementer of the city’s own distinctive foreign policy.
The new mayor will not be able to make the kind of “extravagant” foreign policy statements that characterized the Luzhkov period, although it should be remembered, Karavayev notes, that Luzhkov’s remarks were “not only” a reflection of his views but “an essential addition to the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.”
Consequently, the new mayor may very well fulfill a similar niche in Moscow’s approach, but “under the present conditions of the high capitalization of the Moscow economy,” Karavayev argues, “there are other foreign policy tasks [that need to be performed] in any case, stylistically.”
“The exotic views of the charismatic mayor will now recede, but the very theme of the support [“sheftstvo”] of Moscow over a number of regions of the Commonwealth of Independent States apparently will remain.” Moreover, the new mayor will play a major role in attracting and distributing foreign investments by virtue of its relative size and international importance.
Moreover, Karavayev continues, “the CIS capitals will follow carefully how Moscow reso0lves its transportation and social-economic problems and how its organizers its city economy,” and they will especially track how Moscow deals with “legal illegal migration,” given that Moscow is “the capital” of both in the CIS.
And at the same time, “in Moscow are concentrated all Russian problems of inter-ethnic relations” and it is in the Russian capital that “the ability to resolve in an adequate fashion the problem of communications between those coming from the depressed regions of the Russian Caucasus and indigenous Muscovites” is being tested.
As a result, what the new Moscow mayor says and does on all these issues will have foreign policy consequences, Karavayev says. And that will be true even if – and perhaps especially if – the central powers that be deny to themselves that the incoming head of this special federal subject will play that role.

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