BRICS is an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
“BRICS was not created as an economic union, it’s an artificial abbreviation on the grounds of investment attractiveness,” the expert said. “But if the whole thing boiled down to just economics, the BRICS would not have formed as an integrated whole, as it’s the global political agenda, which initiated BRICS. This agenda deals first of all with the reform of global governance, starting with the financial and economic [system].”
According to Toloraya, the organization has an economic emphasis, but it is not an economic union in the usual sense of the word, as NAFTA and other free trade zones. “It’s not an economic union, but a union of reformers of international relations,” he said.
“In this sense, the political agenda will be gaining more weight as the financial system reform is impossible without reforming the entire system of international relations, starting from the confirmation of the central role of the United Nations, the supremacy of international law, due regard for the legitimate interests of all countries, prevention of unilateral actions, including sanctions and so on,” the expert said.
Speaking of the July BRICS summit, the director of the National Committee for BRICS Research said that many events are timed for the summit. “It’s actually the first full-scale summit in Russia, since the very first summit, held at the initiative of the Russian Federation in Yekaterinburg in 2009, had a small number of participants and topics, it was devoted mainly to the discussion of ways to deal with the consequences of the global economic crisis,” Toloraya said.
“Now BRICS has grown into a very large-scale format, which includes more than 25 cooperation tracks,” he said. “There are many documents, commitments, agreements, so the discussion of the entire range of problems will take a long time. Progress is expected in many spheres.”
Toloraya also touched upon the security dialogue. “There are several important cooperation spheres, for example, combating cyberterrorism, cyber threats, just terrorism, responding to new threats and challenges, including infectious and non-communicable diseases, drug trafficking and even regional conflicts, participation of BRICS in their settlement, various aspects of humanitarian and natural disasters,” he said. “This subject is becoming increasingly important.”
Referring to the BRICS Civic Forum, the expert said that it is the initiative of the Russian presidency, “because it is very important to include representatives of NGOs and civil society in the group’s consolidation process.” “The forum’s program is very extensive – it includes more than 20 workshops. They focus on the issues of economy, trade, sustainable development, education, science, health, cultural and inter-civilisation dialogue, harmonisation of interethnic relations,” he said. “The conference is to be attended by more than 300 people representing all countries of the group and even states that are not BRICS members.”
According to Toloraya, the forum brings together representatives of both the expert community and civil society activists from various NGOs, youth. “A very lively discussion is expected and the forum will work out a document containing recommendations to the leaders,” the expert said.
Civic BRICS is the innovative political process, for the first time to be implemented within BRICS summit in 2015, the year of the Russian Federation’s presidency. As its main objective, the Civic BRICS aims to ensure a constructive dialogue between the representatives of the civil society not only of the BRICS member states, but also the guest countries with the decision-makers on the most important social issues — healthcare, education, culture, development, urban problems, finance, conflict settlement matters, etc.
The BRICS Civic Forum will end on July 1. Its recommendations will be given to the heads of BRICS countries, who will come for the summit in Ufa, in Russia’s Volga republic of Bashkiria, on July 9-10.
Russia assumed the rotating BRICS presidency on April 1, 2015. The BRICS agenda under the Russian presidency includes the goal of making the group a full-fledged tool of strategic and current cooperation on the key issues of global economy and politics. One of the major goals will be the implementation of agreements on creating the group’s own financial institutions, namely the New Development Bank and a pool of reserve currencies.