This session pulls together elements from the preceding two days of discussions and brings the conversation back to key immediate and mid-term challenges facing the region and the world. How will the Arab Awakening play out in the broader Middle East, and what will be the implications for Eurasia and the world? How will European success (or failure) in dealing with eurozone woes affect markets, and what will this mean for global economic growth? Can regional leaders and their friends really find ways to put political problems behind them, and how might that work? Are freedom, prosperity, and stability—the themes of this year’s Black Sea Energy & Economic Forum—realistic and mutually compatible goals for the region, and what US, European, and other countries’ policies will make them more likely of success?

CHAIR: The Hon. Richard Burt,** Managing Director for Europe, Russia, and Eurasia, McLarty Associates


  • H.E. Kairat Kelimbetov, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Mr. Dinu Patriciu,^ Chairman of the Board, DP Holding
  • Mr. Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council


Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Time: 5:00 p.m.
Date: Friday, November 18, 2011

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

DINU PATRICIU: (In progress) – their inspiration from more liberal models based on liberty, on freedom of possession, expression, enterprise. They chose, most of them, to model obsolete model of the social state. Today, the politicians are in Europe in front of an era which has to reshape the states in Europe. They thought for the last decades that they will find a solution in more integration. Every European wants to live in a space of liberty, of common rules and common freedom, but nobody wants to live under a superimposed bureaucracy, which is more costly today than ever, including also the Brussels bureaucracy. That’s the reason of the crisis in Europe.

Of course, from this level, it attained the banking level. And I don’t consider the banks to be victims. They are not. But they are – the system starts to be de-capitalized and it’s lacking trust everywhere. The storm – the perfect storm it’s like a circular tornado with which is coming to the center, attacking first the peripherical countries, which have the chance, the bad chance, the bad luck to be the first victims.

We already see this in the peripherical countries outside the European Union and inside the European Union. But for sure we’ll arrive to the moment in which the center will be affected. And only one paragraph I have to add.

A common currency needs common fiscality. A common fiscality in Europe it’s probably impossible because so many nations have different cultures, different traditions, different ways of relating people together in the economy and they cannot be unified like the new men in communism. They have and they are different. You cannot support a common – a common currency.

This was – I was writing it in 1998. It’s the last big mistake of the European political class. Margaret Thatcher, almost 30 years ago, was wondering – was saying that the destruction of this mechanism is not a question of when it will happen, but how much it will cost. The most costly way to assist to the destruction of the common currency is to try to sustain it. And the cost it’s paid by unfortunately the peripheric countries for the moment.

RICHARD BURT: Dinu, let me – let me jump in here and ask you two interrelated questions from your very compelling and provocative statement about the EU. For at least a decade or more, I think it’s fair to say that for many countries in this region and beyond, the EU was a kind of model. It was a showplace for what countries wanted to become. What you called the – I think you called it the perfect social state, the Bismarckian social state which then has evolved into what we would say now the kind of classical European welfare state is what I would argue, and the minister here may disagree, but it’s been the goal by and large of countries in Central Asia, certainly in the Middle East and in Asia. If the EU doesn’t work, if this very expensive and cumbersome exercise that you described doesn’t work, what then is the new model? What’s the new model for how to run and organize an effective society?

MR. PATRICIU: Can I make a distinction? I make clear –

MR. BURT: And if you, Mr. Minister, want to jump in here, feel free to do so.

MR. PATRICIU: – I make a clear distinction between the EU, the EU of freedom, the EU of freedom, the EU of Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman, and the Europe which become imperial through currency. I make a distinction between EU – and I think that Romania, at least, had a big advantage of getting inside the EU and modernizing its legislation, its – perfectioning its democracy inside the EU, but I make a clear distinction between EU as a structure and the currency which it’s born there.

MR. BURT: So that leads, though, to my second question to you. How do you, in a sensible, coherent, and stabilizing way, ratchet back this project? How – if the current system in your judgment and moving towards perhaps fiscal union, if that isn’t going to be workable, how do you move it back to say a single market in dispense with the current currency without economic shockwaves throughout the region and beyond?

MR. PATRICIU: I don’t think that the common currency is solving these problems. You can have different currencies in different countries and still be a union and very united union. There are big differences between the north and south of the continent, between the west and the east of the continent. People have different cultures, traditions, different ways of living. You will not be able to impose the same fiscality to the Greeks, for instance, which are fighting fiscality for 2000 years because of the Romans, then the Byzantium, then the Turks. And they become independent, in 1821, they bankrupt four times, last time 32 years, from 1932 to 1964.

Why this happened? Because in Greece you are a hero if you fight against fiscality. Of course, the individualistic societies in the Mediterranean Basin are not the same with the sense of integration into the community – of the individual into the community which have the Hanseatic towns in Germany or in north Italy, the city – the independent cities –

MR. BURT: Right.

MR. PATRICIU: – and so on. And the ethic of work it’s absolutely different between the east and the west also. You cannot compare – and I would say something. Fiscality and productivity are two cultural concepts, not economical concepts. You’ll not make a Romanian work in the same way as a German forever, but does not in the disadvantage of the Romanian in the same time. They have a different style of life and we have to respect this.

MR. BURT: I’m going to move on here, but I can’t help but maybe leaving a footnote to note that, Dinu, you have outlined an argument that is entirely in opposition to the speech last week that Angela Merkel made in Leipzig, where she said the solution to the current crisis is more integration not less. And she strongly endorsed the notion of political integration together with economic integration –

MR. PATRICIU: In their entire history, Germans were not conquerors. They were advancing very slow in steps around them. They were not adventurers, not people which went in the open sea to find new continents. That’s why. It’s a big difference of mentality.

MR. BURT: Well, I could make a comment there, but I won’t. (Laughs.) Minister Kelimbetov, we’ve talked a little bit about Europe. I’m going to ask you –


MR. BURT: Yes, you can. Let me give you my question and then you can –

MIN. KELIMBETOV: You ask very provocative questions.

MR. BURT: – then you’re free – think at yourself as an American politician, meaning whatever the question I ask you, you can give whatever answer you’d like. (Laughter.) But I do want you to comment on a Euro issue, but in addition to that, I’d like you to talk about changes underway in what I might call the former Soviet Empire.

Your country, for instance, has joined a Customs Union with the Russian Federation and Belarus. I think that you’re in the process of acceding WTO membership. The current prime minister and future president of Russia has outlined this sort of ambitious vision for what he calls the Eurasian union and if I’m not mistaken, your government has supported that concept in general. Can you give us some sense of what’s happening into the – to the east and north of this region and how it’s likely to influence both the economic and energy dimensions of the Black Sea region?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: So thank you very much for these opportunities. I would like to start joining the discussion with Dinu. You asked – the question is, is European Union a – is still a model? I think the European Union is still a model, but not the ideal model like it was 20 years ago when it was the Soviet Union collapsed and it was like a peaceful divorce of all these post-Soviet Union countries. So everyone, in those times, again dreamed about integration because we had a common cultural, common historical, common education, common industrial routes. And if we – let’s say one moment, it disappeared. It was kind of disasters, a real collapse, and we start to think about integration. In those moment, the integration in European Union, those moment it was like 30 years of integration, was like ideal model how the different countries on the equal approach could bring all of these, let’s say, advantages to one places.

Unfortunately two last years so maybe even last 12 months created some concerns about the principles of integrations. And I am agree with Dinu in terms of issues of common currency and the, let’s say – at the same time, we should be like to precondition in terms of a common fiscal policy.

So that divides problem, we are talking two days about the Euro zone problems, which in these terms I think have two main dimension. One is macroeconomic. So everyone – so we’ve – let’s say the nature of the market economy is a nature to have crises. So crises happen each 10 years, but maybe first time after Soviet Union collapse, this is a real threat of global recession. It was not global recession since those times. So we remember this from the history. The greatest depression was in ’29 in the United States.

After this, it was 10-years cycles, but it was OK. In my time, I remember it was Asian financial crisis. It was Russian financial crisis, but no so global. Now, we see the global problems first time. And definitely it’s a lot of – it’s a lack – now, we have a lack of confidence to the institutions. All of us criticize rating agencies, all the companies, basic committee principles, and everything. So if we criticize it, so what is – something should replace it or we should stop to criticize. Because I think this is like basic platform of the global economy right now, no one proposed something new.

And in these terms, I think the Europe is too much reflecting about these problems because, again, if you come back to the current global economy matrix, we have two global economic centers in the world, which is U.S. economy and the European economy – I mean total EU and U.K. economy. And still, this is two of the most competitive economies in the world. They create let’s say the most competitive products. They generate innovations. And they are biggest economies. So it’s like – let’s say is a 50 percent of the global GDP.

Definitely we have a problem right now, is a more problem of – I think more artificial problem is like more political, more bureaucracy. But at the end of the day, this problem will be solved, and I think this is the most healthy economy in the world. But I think what will be the consequences of the current situation, again, we will use the confidence of institution. And I think for let’s say because of the mistakes and misconception of the decision-making process, we will get in three, five years, let’s say, at least slow down of U.S. economy and at least zero growth in EU economy. But in – maybe it’s time to cleaning balance sheet of banking sector and all of its derivatives problems, et cetera, but in three or five years, we will start to recover. So it’s a usual business cycle, nothing, let’s say, strange, nothing special. So this is macroeconomic damage.

The second is how about the experience of integration? And here is a lot of questions. I think the common currency is a big advantages of European Union. I think everything was done well, but now it’s time a little bit to discipline the members countries and I’m not agree with some countries is less disciplined than other countries. So this is a question of political will. And if a country wants to be part of this, they’ll show the willingness to be part of the integration union. They have to show – they have to prove it through the political will, through the solidarity of the people of these countries. And then this time, this is lessons for us. When you ask me – and coming back to number three question is about the integration in Soviet Union, definitely want to – someone wants to bring all CIS countries back.

MR. BURT: Who is that someone?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: Maybe. (Laughter.) Let’s say. But I think responsible politician and I include three countries, the leaders of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan decided do it the, let’s say, pragmatic way, because – before all of this fiscal union, let’s say, currency union, let’s talk about the more – less deeper integration. We create first of all the Customs Union two years ago.

Just today, in Moscow was a breaking news when the three presidents agreed to create from January 1st next year the common economic space, is a little bit – feels in deepen integration rather than Customs Union because that’s freedom on the walking for us. This is coordination of the macroeconomic policy. This is – will be answering your question – until the year 2015, we are, let’s say, looking forward for integration between our countries. We are studying in which shape we are and when we will decide, after 2015, are we ready to continue.

With even this period of time, we had to decide – by the way, this Customs Union and this further integration based on two principles. First on WTO principles, and Russia enter it WTO early next year and I think the Kazakhstan enter it latest – late in 2012 as well, and the second – this is open club. Everybody who wants to join have this chance, but it’s – these candidates should follow certain conditions because we see some countries could not be ready to at least follow the principles like Maastricht principles. We have these principles. The – let’s say the budget deficit shouldn’t be less – should be less than 3 percent. The government debt should be less than 50 percent of GDP. The inflation should be around 5 percent of each country of members. So this is the main principle, means that the countries who are members of integration union are responsible for their fiscal policy.

MR. BURT: Let me – let me follow up here with – ask you a very pointed question. Some people would argue that the development of the European Union, of course, beginning with the European community, through the process in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s and so on, was really underpinned by a balance of power within Europe. You of course had the Franco-German relationship was kind of the motor of developing Europe. Britain joins and then there’s again a balance of power between the three large countries.

And the institutions of Europe were established, so that the smaller countries had a voice in the commission and the parliament and so on. In the case of a Eurasian union, aren’t you being asked to kind of get in bed with an elephant? And when you’re in bed with an elephant, you’re always afraid, even if the elephant isn’t mad at you that in the middle of the night, he may roll over on top of you when he’s asleep. Isn’t that the danger with a Eurasian union that would be dominated by the Russian Federation?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: So let me ask – let me answer other way. Do you think that still Canada is in bed with the elephant?

MR. BURT: Sorry?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: Canada is also in bed with the elephant.

MR. BURT: Well, you know, the first time I ever heard that expression of being in bed with an elephant, was told to me by Brian Mulroney, when he was the prime minister of Canada. And he said, living next to the United States is being – like being in bed with an elephant. So I’m asking you the same question.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: Yes. Let me answer on behalf of Kazakhstan. So if you see the geography of Kazakhstan, we have more than 7.5 thousand kilometers common border with Russia, which is the biggest common border in the world, even bigger than between United States and Canada. And we have more than 2.5 thousand kilometers common border with China. So we are between – by the way –

MR. BURT: Two elephants.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: – plus Russia we have with China. And I think that during the 20 years, we are trying to get the equilibrium, geopolitical both and geo-economical, not only with them, but also with United States, EU, and the other, let’s say the major forces in the world.

And you said about the special relationship, we have a past. We have a history, but we have a confidence since maybe – even before Soviet Union time. So we have very good political relationship – is no as a choice actually. And I think – so we have the same shape of economic development last 20 years, just coming back to the previous question about political will or about different – nature of different nations. Twenty years ago, the Kazakhstan had GPD per capita $700. Now, we have this year, more than $11,000. It’s the second place among CIS countries due to our social and economic reforms. And the next week, Tuesday, in Paris, the prime minister of Kazakhstan want to participate and bring request to be part of the OECD countries. During 20 years.

Just last week, the Standard & Poor’s, who was decision-making in the world right now, upgrade Kazakhstan, not downgrade, upgrade Kazakhstan. We became triple B plus, which is even bigger than Russia in the same level like Ireland.

Last – two weeks before, the Ernst & Young recognized Kazakhstan like a fastest economy – growing economy in the world, number three after China and Qatar. And I think all of this – and by the way, according to the World Bank doing business, we are in top 50, number 47 best investment climate in the world and in top 10 protection of investors’ right in the world.

What is the, let’s say, ingredients of this success? So first is create – to bring best international practice, create conditions for investors and save the political sovereignty. So this is the main principle of the leadership of Kazakhstan and we try to follow it.

MR. BURT: Well, Mr. Minister, I have to say that after a discussion of the Euro zone, it is great to hear about the success story of Kazakhstan.

I’m now going to call on our last participant, Damon Wilson, who, as I mentioned, is the executive vice president of the Atlantic Council and before that had a distinguished career in the U.S. State Department and serving on the National Security Council staff at the White House. And Damon, I’m going to ask – start my question to you in terms of the paradox that I see in discussions about the future American role in this region.

I remember in the 1970s, when most people I think felt that U.S. involvement in Vietnam wasn’t a very good idea, there was nevertheless a kind of global discussion when the United States left Vietnam over whether this was going to – this represented an American retreat from its global engagement. And now, even though many people in this region and beyond would argue that, say, American involvement in Iraq was not a very good idea, you’re beginning to see the same arguments now with the Americans leaving Iraq and then together with NATO forces, in 2014, from Afghanistan.

Is America going to leave this region in a real and meaningful way? And if so, who is going to fill that potential vacuum? Will Turkey play, as it appears to be, a more important role as a regional power? Will we see external actors, Russia or China, stepping up and being more visible here? What’s the constellation of forces going to look like – when I say forces, not military forces, but political-economic forces – going to look like in this region post the U.S. withdrawal?

DAMON WILSON: Certainly that’s a terrific question, Rick. Before I answer that specifically, my only regret of joining this panel this afternoon is we were able to get such colorful comments from you, Dinu, or from you, Rick, that I regret I’m not able to put them up on Twitter during this session. They were terrific. But I also want to pick up with what the Minister said because I think it’s remarkable to have a minister here from Kazakhstan reminding Europe, reminding the West that the model isn’t actually broken and that we’d better be careful not to lose confidence in the model.

I think your statement was remarkable, and if you look at what works and what’s broken, and then I’ll come back to the specifics of your question, Rick, what works are the fundamentals: free markets, democracy, rule of law, human rights. What’s broken is, in Europe, the construction, as Dinu has pointed out, of the super-national structure, bureaucratic structure that’s a hybrid. It’s a super – supranational structure that was created without the transfer of sovereignties to support it. And it’s put Europe in a difficult position.

The second part that’s broken is the same macroeconomic policies and rules that are the creation of the Western system, the rules that Turkey and Kazakhstan are actually following. They’re meeting the master criteria, while the Europeans are not. So I think it’s important to remember that the fundamental model represented in Europe, represented by the transatlantic community isn’t broken. Free markets that deliver prosperity, democracy that allows people to determine their political future, rule of law that provides predictability, both to business and politics and the baseline of human rights that speaks to the human dignity that’s so powerful right now in the Arab Spring.

So I just think that’s an important reminder to hear from our Kazakh friend. But coming to your question, there’s a direct relation to this, because this also hits at does the crisis that we’re experiencing, the crisis in the West, the retrenchment of the United States from its footprint in Iraq, Afghanistan, does this represent a loss of confidence in the U.S. role in the world? Are we moving from a role of leadership to bystander? And I think that’s actually a pretty difficult, pretty dangerous path to go down to, and it’s not black and white. If you just – on the even of this conference, President Obama was in Hawaii, hosting the APEC leaders. He’s in – headed off to the Pacific region for a conversation that said, yes, there is a strategic pivot taking place.

The future of America’s engagement in the world isn’t based out of Iraq or Afghanistan and our military presence; it is through the strength of our economic engagement with a particular emphasis on Asia-Pacific. And I think the important part of that is a commitment to the – and continued U.S. leadership engagement in the world, but it is a question of how we do that. And it’s increasingly, I think, in this region, how does the United States play the right supporting role. We can’t afford to abandon the turf, abandon the field.

So I think as we draw down military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to be very diplomatically savvy about how we structure that drawdown in a way that leaves an enduring political presence, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, but more importantly, signals to the region, whether it’s Central Asia, the North Africa and the Middle East, the United States isn’t walking away from the challenges and the opportunities that are taking place right here, that we plan to be able to play the right supporting role as these countries increasingly move down a path of free markets, of democracy.

In many respects, there’s a historic opportunity happening just south – just east of the Black Sea region, and a shame would be if the United States with Europe lacked the confidence and the wherewithal in the midst of their own crises at home to not step forward and play the right supporting role for the transformation that’s taking place because I really think this is an opportunity to shape a new perception of the role of the United States in the region for an entire new generation. And so I don’t think we want to be absent from that equation. I think we want to help – actually help shape that.

So I think that begins to get at some of your comments, Rick.

MR. BURT: Thank you. Thank you, Damon. Mr. Minister.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: I totally agree with previous speaker and so I think it would be a mistake if we consider it the current problem, let’s say, the – how to solve the current problem just through the way that someone should replace someone. I think that if we are talking about, let’s say, static approach, OK, if someone is weakened, we have to bring new players, is not.

I think the approach should be the pie which is dividing, I mean, the pie, is the global economy should be increased, and then the new players, I mean emergent markets – I’m talking about Brazil, Russia, China, and other small emergent countries, they have to play the new own role. And I think the new system should also put in mind this new role. But again, coming back maybe to Kazakhstan or to China, the biggest trade partner for Kazakhstan is European Union, 51 percent, number two is Russia, 15 percent, and China is less.

As again, all of this emergent market depends from the, let’s say, frighten of global recession. So nobody wants it in emergent markets. And I think it’s better to talk how to figure out the geo-economic equilibrium, but in the model of economic growth of the global economy.

MR. BURT: Let me ask all three panelists about the Arab awakening, the process of change which has been taking place in the Arab world. It’s been different in every country that it’s reached. But I have the impression that it’s in danger of stalling out, that the kind of euphoria that first met developments in Tunisia and Egypt now are being – are now being replaced by a certain sense of concern that say, in Egypt, for example, the process seems stalled. The Egyptian military seems to be clinging to power. You have this continuing uncertainty and violence in Syria.

Earlier in this conference, somebody talked about the choice that we had in the region between stability, on the one hand, and political freedom on the other, but could we see an outcome that – where we have neither? And what – how do you see this process going forward? How optimistic are you that this process can be channeled in a way that is going to lead to more open, liberal political systems and more dynamic economies that are going to meet the genuine concerns of all these unemployed young people in the region who are looking for jobs?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: So I think it’s a very good question, especially here in Turkey. And I think Turkey is a very good model, especially for the countries which you mentioned from the Middle East and North Africa, so is a kind of a model, where, let’s say, the same demographic structure like in those countries, so young population. At the same time, also, this is Muslim people, but recreate based on the fundamentals, which was mentioned about, is again, the commitment to democracy, commitment to create middle class, commitment to develop SME sector, commitment to, let’s say, manage sophisticated way wells, including oil wells, or whatever.

And I think if – and the Turkey is a very good model for this. At the same time, the Turkey is committed for the global responsibility in terms of fighting terrorism, fighting radical fundamentalism, et cetera. And for many countries in the region I think it’s a very good idea to revise the approaches how develop a country, how to be responsible in global terms.

MR. BURT: We just have time now from one or two questions from the floor. Anybody like to – yes, back here. And please, identify yourself.

Q: Hi, my name is Alexis Crow, and I’m from Chatham House in London. I’d like to thank the distinguished panel for all of your comments and bringing the panel the whole forum together as a close. I just wanted to come back to this question about the failure of the model, and not just in terms of a free market, but in terms of political freedom, and actually coming back to the Ambassador’s point about a stalling of the Arab Spring.

And I wonder whether on a political – on a level of political engagement the West approaches states such as Russia, China, India, Pakistan with a sort of holier than thou often common currency and a way of saying that one day, you will become like us, once you – once your territory and once your borders are secure, you’ll one day evolve into this sort of Kantian-Schuman dream. Now whether or not that involves a common currency is up for debate, but that you might one day evolve into and unfold into a society which is altruistic, which supports individual human rights over communitarian human rights.

And I think that’s the real question is whether or not these states, given territorial integrity and given the security of their borders, whether they would one day become like the western Schuman model. And if so how might the West reposition itself, and reengage, and find a different form of common currency for dialogue.

MR. BURT: Does anyone want to try an answer to that question?

MIN. KELIMBETOV: Let me start –

MR. BURT: All right. I was going to tap dance for a minute.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: So let me think this way. So you mention about the – also the biggest economy now a part of the world like Russian, Indian, Chinese, and Pakistan. And everyone now is trying to analyze what does it mean the growth of Chinese economy. So OK, everyone is – maybe someone is not happy with number – with second place of China, but what will be next in 20 years because they grow last 40 years with rates of 10 (percent), 12 percent. And this is like became a geoeconomic reality.

At the same time, the Indian growth also maybe will be even more faster rather than Chinese in the future. So it’s different opinion on different researchers. Again – and in those countries where we have more than 1 billion people, let’s assume 30 percent of you will be middle class – and should be done because so both countries are working on the prosperity of their peoples. And definitely is going to be a new reality, be a new economic reality, and we have to rethink, again, in terms of the future economic growth, could we manage all of this common growth of the global community in the world right away without any military decision, I mean, in a peaceful way.

And how to management the people? We have now more than 7 billion people in common population. I think in a decade, it will be at least doubled or something like this. So this is a big topic for the scientists to think how to manage, how to organize economy. But again, the leadership right now of the global economic and financial matrix isn’t still on the side of United States and European Union, because these countries, even China, India, and Russia, following – and us following your model and we have to, let’s say, figure out is it right model or not. I think it’s a very good time to do it right now.

MR. BURT: Damon?

MR. WILSON: I think that question hits at the heart of concerns – is it on? I think that question hits at the heard of concerns of – and actually hits at why this is such a dangerous period right now, and that I think the future model is an existential of importance for the transatlantic community in part, not a model of imposition, but a model of inspiration, a model of inspiration that societies see, that the tenants of free market, democracies, rule of law, human rights that it works, allows them to thrive and compete.

If you project – I mean we’re witnessing the reality of a great shift of economic influence and power from west to east and south, and that’s an objective fact. And that’s fine. But if you project out 20, 30, 40 years, if the values that underpin Europe – not the Euro, I’d set that aside – the fundamental values that represent the European system have increasingly become the universal set of approach to governance and economics. That’s an environment in which whether the United States is the number one economy or the number five economy, we’re going to be able to thrive.

And I think in the absence of that, if we lose confidence through this crisis that’s unfolding in the West right now, if we lose confidence in that model and we lose the ability for that model to be a sense of inspiration for human dignity, economic prosperity, that puts us on a path where you can see sovereign democracy as a more accepted term, accepted model in the future. I think that’s a pretty difficult situation for our country, for Europe, for the countries of the Black Sea region as well.

So I think that question hits at the heard of why it’s so important and it’s so important why the transformation of what’s happening around the Black Sea as a pivot is so important right now as well.

MR. BURT: Last question, down in the front.

Q: Chrysanthopoulos, secretary general of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation. A small remark on the Euro zone that would end with a question. Some – this is a serious issue, and we have the Arab Spring that goes along with European deep sleep. Unfortunately, the solutions that have been found by the Euro zone countries in the summit are not working for Greece. All the bailout – all the bailout packages have ended up that Greece is at a larger debt than it was before and the economy has stopped because of the austerity measures.

Now, what the solution could be – the solution could be – this is what I’m always asked – we could have the pushing of the – I mean, the lifting of the austerity measures perhaps with a zero of the debt that would cause – that would make the economy go forth. And also, the European Union is quite afraid of democratic procedures. We saw that when Papandreou made the – made the proposal for having a referendum. All of the world went crazy with that proposal.

And finally, if the Euro zone is – if the countries of the Euro zone are interested in maintaining the Euro zone, why did France and – why did France and Germany ask Greece to buy six frigates last year as a condition to help the bailout package. Germany also tried to sell some armaments that Greece did not need. Anyhow, my question is – I asked this in the morning, but I got a reply from bankers. My question that I asked this morning was maybe it might be beneficial for humanity to examine the possibility of zeroing the global debt of all the world at the same time, which at this moment is about $400.658 trillion. Thank you.

MR. BURT: That’s what I would call a big idea.

Dinu, I’m going to let you respond to that.

MR. PATRICIU: A theoretical idea because no financial institution in the world will accept this, small or big, but up to the end, these debts will anyhow not be paid because the politicians in Europe will slow down the real answers to the crisis, will not take decisions, and then inflation will decide for them for sure if inflation was a result of any crisis which enlarged the debt at insurmountable – insurmountable heights. And I think that’s the answer. Anyhow, these are debts which will not be paid forever.

I remember a Greek friend which I was telling you’ll be able to repay in 30 years – and it was a businessman. And asked – he told me, don’t tell anybody, but not in 3,000 years.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: So I think it will be very incorrect to –

MR. BURT: You’re going to get the last word, Mr. Minister.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: – thank you. I wouldn’t like to comment the behavior of each government in Europe. This would be very incorrect from my official position, but let’s talk from the banking – bankers’ positions.

I think first of all – it should be three stage of decision. First, we – I think the Europe has to start fight fire – I mean, start to fight with this crisis because there is no still any decision – as a real decision, I mean. Number two is definitely it should be debt restructuring.

MR. BURT: Sorry.

MIN. KELIMBETOV: Debt restructuring because debt restructuring on the principle of burden sharing. Someone took – should take losses on themselves, let’s say – and should be shared among the different sites. And someone should take all of these losses. And who will be – which particular institution, ECB or someone else, this should be decision of let’s say politicians.

MR. BURT: Well, I think we could go on actually for quite a long time because we’ve raised a lot of very interesting, challenging questions, and we’ve only just started to provide the answers. But unfortunately we have to end now. I think our dinner starts at 7:30, but I want to first of all complement our panelists who have given us a lot of issues and ideas to think about. And as I said at the outset, I also want to complement you for staying through this last session, but I think you would agree with me that it was worthwhile.

Thank you, and we’ll see you later. (Applause.)