Moscow has hosted the annual international Primakov Readings conference amid turbulent developments in the Middle East, the Ukraine crisis, the Russia-EU feud, continuing trade restrictions against Russia, and arms control challenges.

The event took place on May 29-30 at the World Trade Center in the heart of the Russian capital.

Primakov Readings is a joint project of Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, World Trade Center Moscow, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation and the Primakov Center for Foreign Policy Cooperation.

The 2017 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report by Pennsilvania University put the Primakov Readings into the world’s Top 10 best think tank conferences ranking it seventh.

 

This year, the event centered around the Risks of Unstable World Order brought together more than 65 experts from 22 countries.

The forum is named after outstanding russian scholar and statesman who was behind the establishment of the russia – islamic world strategic vision group in 2006 and continued to be its honorary chairman until his death.

Here are some of the memories of Mr. Primakov that the forum participants shared with us:

Georgy Petrov, advisor to the Russian CCI President:

Mr. Primakov would rather seek a compromise rather than persist in a standoff. He had his red lines, though – they began where Russia’s national interests were at stake.

What’s important is that he would never try to impress the other party. But they would eventually be impressed. I do not really know how it happened. It was magic. And it happened despite him being a tough negotiator at times. I remember the protracted talks on the Iranian nuclear deal with the Iranian ambassador when there seemed to be no prospects in sight. You know how Mr. Primakov talked to the ambassador? Any other diplomat would complain he is being lectured but this ambassador instead asked for another meeting with Primakov.

I am positive that the ambassador would then wire reports on each of those meetings back to Iran. Even though it was tough talking, it was in the interests of Iran.

The deal was struck when Mr. Primakov was no longer with us.

I have never seen visionaries like him. He would never explicitly provide any forecasts but his analysis was a forecast in itself. He realized the importance of the Russia-US ties like no-one else. He was the first to see the threat in the neocons joining the Bush Jr. administration. We thought he was painting too dark a picture but the first seeds of the ideology were sown back then and even though they are no longer in power, the narrative has persisted. And it is here to stay.

If his advice on Ukraine was heeded, our relations with the neighbour would never fall as low as they are today.

 

Gamzat Gamzatov, First Deputy Envoy of the Republic of Dagestan with the Russian President:

I was always impressed with his ability to listen and to hear including to those who were below his rank. I remember sitting in a meeting when somebody’s opinion was ignored. Mr. Primakov summoned everyone the next day and told the audience: “You know what? He was right.”

He would never raise his tone and shout at anyone.

And, of course, he was extremely tender, caring and responsive to women and it was reciprocal.

Ekaterina Podkolzina