Highlights of XIV Kortunov Global Affairs Debates
On December 21, RIAC hosted the Debates that are the annual project of Creative Diplomacy in association with RIAC launched over a decade ago in memory of Russian political scientist Sergei V. Kortunov.

This year, the Debates were exciting and inspiring, as usual.

The debate topics were:
1. World economy in 2022: major crisis or a new beginning?
2. Russia and its neighbors: the end of alliance?
3. USA-China: an open confrontation or manageable rivalry?

Ivan Timofeev, RIAC Program Director, and Natalia Burlinova, President of Creative Diplomacy, were the moderators of the Debates.

Before the start of the Debates, each topic was proposed to the audience for voting by show of hands.

On topic #1, 71% votes supported the opinion of world economy experiencing a major crisis. On topic #2, 70% votes were against the idea of ending the alliance between Russia and her neighbors. On topic #3, most votes (67%) were for the position that China and the USA were rivals rather than opponents. With the progress of the Debates, the opinion of the voters was gradually changing…
Debate #1 was opened by Leonid Grigoryev, Professor at Higher School of Economics, Head of World Economics Department. Professor Grigoryev was rather optimistic and claimed that world economy was "making a leap over an abyss".
Alexander Polonsky, Advisor at Institute of VEB.RF, on the other hand, pointed out that too many spheres of economy were experiencing difficulties in 2022: prices and inflation, monetary management of central banks, as well as business activity. The speakers appealed to economic forecasts of prominent Russian and foreign economists and answered questions of other participants.

After the debate, the topic was voted on again. This time, the audience voted less pessimistically, lowering the initial choice ("world economy in 2022: major crisis") to 65%.

Debate #2 was devoted to Russia's relations with its neighbors – Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the role of the Russian peacekeeping troops in Nagorny Karabakh.
Arshaluis Mgdesyan, journalist and political observer from Armenia, argued in favor of the end of the alliance era. Aliaksandr Shpakouski, political scientist and Head of analytical center "Aktualnaya Kontseptsia" from Belarus, argued in favor of the continuation of alliances on the post-Soviet space. The experts drew their arguments from the situations between Armenia and Russia, and Belarus and Russia, respectively.

Ultimately, Mr. Shpakouski was more convincing, and the audience voted 50%/50% on the issue ("Russia and its neighbors: the end of alliance?").

Debate #3 was in the English language. Lily Ong, international observer from Singapore, joined the Debates online and argued that the US and China were in a state of "manageable rivalry". She insisted that the two countries were elements of one economic system and that it was only natural for them to compete. Yuri Kulintsev, Head of the Center for World Politics and Strategic Analysis, RAS, claimed that the current rivalry looked more like a confrontation. He managed to convince some of the audience and the vote on the issue ("USA-China: an open confrontation or manageable rivalry?") ended in a draw, too.

Kortunov Global Affairs Debates-2022 took place on the background of serious hostilities on the international arena, and the event showed that many sides were still willing to discuss problems openly and look for solutions.