First Day of the XIV Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona Wraps Up
The XIV Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona has begun. The programme’s events are being held in person. This year's overarching theme is ‘Eurasia on its Path to a New Geopolitical, Social, and Economic Order: Transition to a New, Human-Centred Economy’. The Forum is organized by the Roscongress Foundation, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, and Conoscere Eurasia Association. The event is co-organized by the Association of European Businesses and Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.
The opening ceremony featured comments from Mayor of Verona Federico Sboarina, President Emeritus of Intesa Sanpaolo (Italy) Giovanni Bazoli, and Banca Intesa Russia President and Association Conoscere Eurasia (Italy) President Antonio Fallico. In his welcome address, Professor Fallico said, “Last year we had just a handful of brave attendees. The majority of our participants, approximately 5,000 people, watched events online. This year, the Forum’s broadcast is being watched in Italy, Russia, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, the USA, China, India, South Korea, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other Eurasian countries. Today, the Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona is being held entirely in person, and this is a major accomplishment by its organizers.”
The first day of the Forum's business programme focused on discussions about the energy transition, circular economies, and the green economy. Work at the Forum started off with a special session called ‘Structural Changes in the Economy and the Future of Energy’, where President and CEO of Rosneft (Russia) Igor Sechin presented a report on ‘The Need for Structural Economic Change and the Future of Energy’. “The environmental and climate agendas are being brought to the forefront, but they shouldn't undermine humanity's access to energy resources nor risk slowing down socioeconomic development,” said Sechin.
The next session was dedicated to the prospects of creating a Greater Eurasian Partnership from the Atlantic to the Pacific. During the discussion, ex-ambassador of the Italian Republic to the Russian Federation (2017–2021) Pasquale Terracсiano noted that, “Talks between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union began in 2017. As a result, EU and EAEU standards have been harmonized across 12 sectors. This is a small example of what we can achieve through partnership and cooperation.”
Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Knorr-Bremse and Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation to Baden-Württemberg, Germany Klaus Mangold noted that, “Everything is linked in the international framework, without this it will not be possible to have a predictable business in this world. Let's make no mistake, we are actually living in a kind of disruptive world. Everything that we believed was granted and was sure until a couple of years ago, now is changing rapidly. This needs, from a European perspective, an EU that is more powerful than what we see actually. My strongest point of concern today is a weak Europe: as far as European institutions are concerned, as well as the interior design of Europe. We need Europe as a strong powerhouse; to be equal in a world where you have leadership all over the place. We have to bring our European countries to a more unified Europe with strong leadership. It’s impossible to talk about international energy policy without having a strong integration with Russia.”
The heads of leading energy companies took part in a discussion on the prospects of natural gas and the Green Economy. At the start of the discussion, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Victor Zubkov said that populist calls for divesting from oil and gas are utopian daydreams.
Chairman of the Management Board and Member of the Board of Directors of NOVATEK Leonid Mikhelson discussed the effects of the pandemic on the energy sector: “During the global pandemic, society’s focus turned to energy issues. The economy is facing a new challenge: energy prices are growing rapidly. Certain enterprises have even been forced to close as a result. This is a challenge for the gas industry as well. The situation must be equalized and prevented from happening again – that is governments’, regulators’, and gas companies’ common goal.”
In the evening portion of the business programme of the XIV Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona, participants discussed ecological transition, circular economies, and global diplomacy in the modern world.
Commenting on modern geopolitical trends, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Pankin said, “Any integration is based primarily on balancing interests and mutual benefits. However, the world has become fragmented in a geopolitical sense. A break has occurred and globalization has become decentralized. Now it relies more on regional ties. We, diplomats, understand that there are battles being waged over ‘space’ and that there are competitors even in integration processes.”
As is tradition, the Forum’s business programme was accompanied by a number of cultural events. This year, participants had the opportunity to see a performance by the Alexandrov Ensemble (Red Army Choir) featuring Italian musical star Al Bano. The Forum also includes a photo exhibition titled ‘The Unbelievable Adventures of Italians in Russia,” which touches on the various aspects of bilateral partnership – from culture to the economy – in post-war decades.
The business programme of the XIV Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona will continue on 29 October. During the second day, participants will discuss the effects of the pandemic on banks and the financial sector, technological innovation and digital transition, the role of the pharmaceutical industry in a modern economy, and debate ways to overcome the neoliberal social economic system.
The complete programme of the XIV Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona can be found on its official website. Live broadcasts of the sessions can be found on the Eurasian Economic Forum in Verona website or through the electronic resources of the Roscongress Foundation and the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.