Russia Proposes Signing A Strategy On Public-Private Partnership For Counter-Terrorism In G8 Format
Andrei Safonov, President Putin’s Special Representative for International Cooperation in the Fight against Terrorism, held a press conference on September 6, in the lead-up to another anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The event produced no sensational news, and journalists were packing up their equipment when Safonov made an unexpected admission: there are plans to sign a Strategy on Public-Private Partnerships for Counter-Terrorism, in the G8 format, in Moscow this November.
The essential point in this Strategy is that member states intend to get the world’s largest corporations to cooperate more closely in fighting terrorism. Amongst other things, this cooperation entails financial participation in anti-terrorism by private companies — on terms which are an offer they cannot refuse.
According to Safonov, 9/11 was caused by the lack of a timely response to a rapidly-changing world in which the new threat turned out to be all-pervasive, covering everything “from outer space to human psychology.” Moreover, said Safonov, “there is also every reason to say that the world changed after the Beslan school hostage siege.”
If the world is aware of the “ubiquitous threat” of terrorism, Moscow maintains that the international community should also adopt a common plan for fighting it. According to Safonov, one of the basic functions in this plan should be performed by “a political alliance between business and government,” extending worldwide.
Safonov only mentioned the Strategy on Public-Private Partnerships for Counter-Terrorism toward the end of his press conference, in response to a question we put to him. This Strategy is being prepared for signing at the World Forum on Public-Private Partnerships for Counter-Terrorism, to be held in Moscow in late October and early November. G8 leaders agreed at their St. Petersburg summit to hold this forum.
The Kremlin has long cherished the idea of actively involving the private sector in fighting terrorism.
At the Banking Security forum in 2003, organized with support from the United Russia party and the presidential administration, along with the Security Council’s financial monitoring committee, the Interior Ministry, and other state agencies, one of the strategic goals was described as the need to determine “methods and means for ensuring security for the state, the public, and business in the period of fighting organized crime and international terrorism.”
Russia’s G8 presidency has provided an opportunity to propose this initiative at the level of world leaders. Moscow’s idea of involving international business in the fight against terrorism was first proposed in February 2006, at the International Security Conference in Brussels. At first, Russia proposed that all G8 countries should adopt a Charter to that effect — but the other states immediately rejected this. Eventually, the document became a Strategy — less binding than a Charter, but more focused on practical application.
An informed source from circles involved in developing the Strategy told: “Business and government are not ready for full confidence as yet, and we still lack the appropriate legal mechanisms and frameworks for cooperation on a parity basis.” But this can be remedied.
According to some of the sources, the Strategy’s fundamental provisions are “a voluntary basis, and clearly delineated shares of responsibility between the state and business.”
“This makes it clear to the business community that the state has its own responsibility, which has nothing to do with business,” said a source, emphasizing that this is only “the start of the dialogue.”
But the forms of cooperation between business and government may vary. According to some of the sources, this entails information exchange between state agencies and corporations. But that’s not all. The state is primarily interested in areas such as finance, tourism, and energy (a new twist for the energy security concept), transport, and cyberspace.
Hence the list of companies which have already signed up for cooperation.
The source said: “The front ranks include corporations from G8 countries, comprising a fairly substantial army. The Russian companies that will help the state fight terrorism are Gazprom, LUKoil, and Norilsk Nickel.” Business associations have also signed up: OPORA Rossii, Business Russia, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Foreign companies include General Electric, SAP, Siemens, Citigroup, and Ericsson.
The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs used to be critical of this initiative from the Foreign Ministry (the Foreign Ministry has acted as the official launcher of the campaign). The association even described this as yet another attempt by the state to pump money out of private companies.
The Strategy has not been coordinated as yet; corporate and government representatives will gather in Moscow in October-November and try to determine the areas for their cooperation.
The media will not be left on the sidelines either. According to our source, Media magnates will be invited to participate in anti-terrorist propaganda — creating a negative image of terrorism.
According to sources, the October-November forum, may also be attended by some senior officials from G8 countries: making it another mini-summit while Russia holds the presidency.
After we find out who will represent G8 governments at that conference, we’ll be able to judge how seriously other G8 countries are taking Moscow’s initiative.