New wave of economic crisis

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Baku, 14 February 2013 –

Regardless of the area that crisis engulfs - economic, political, social or any other, it possesses a rippling effect. Present economic crisis is no exception and it affects all the processes within the society. Notable are the social consequences of global crisis felt in various countries, and the political turbulence in the Arab world.

In the meantime, this crisis leaves distinctive imprint upon the universal ideas and values. Current economic crisis is not the first in the history of the mankind and surely not the last. History has proven that global economy emerged ever stronger after every crisis, and transcended a new phase with application of advanced technologies and innovations.

Political and economic hardships of Europe in mid XIX century, "Great Depression” of the 1930s, collapse of the socialist economic system in the 1990s and subsequent development phase demonstrates that every crisis is followed by the economic progress. Meaning that by the economic parameters this process is recognized as the next link of the development cycle.

Nevertheless, hesitation and tumult in the society caused by the economic crisis is never forgotten and is always considered a regress. Current economic crisis also leads to deep splits in the universal values of the society. Presently, democracy, system of the international law and general crisis of justice are frequently mentioned notions. Regrettably, crisis of such nature that society encounters, never leads to progress. Bloody wars, double standards and human tragedies are the embodiments of injustice.

Characteristic features of the III millennia crisis

New millennium is characterized by the growth of the role of new players in the system of international relations. NGOs, international media outlets, and transnational companies have started to actively interfere into global processes and trends, along with traditional actors; states and international organizations. These institutions also play greater role in shaping public opinion. Adherence to the principles of justice becomes a major issue, because unlike the states these actors bear no concrete responsibility and enjoy more maneuvering space in the portrayal of the general picture. Today, these very actors are capable of creating a perception on any given subject. Interestingly, the targets range from economic climate to leisure.

It is based on their wishes that "Freedom House”, "Amnesty International”, "Reporters without borders” and others engaged with human rights issues are attempting to conduct an assessment of the "real” situation in any country. While the likes of CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Telegraph, Bild, Figaro may rivet attention to an individual development and dedicate lengthy activity to that end. "Bloomberg”, "Reuters”, "Associated Press”, "Agence France-Press” and others may choose to identify most favorable destinations for tourists and thus, indirectly leverage the processes. Detached from reality ratings of the investment climate of a country are issued by the likes of "Financial Times”, "Economist” or "Foreign Affairs”.

However, in order to reveal the genuine truth, the extents of freedom of those actors and objectives they pursue have to be made clear. Let us scrutinize financial sources, the management and political line of those foundations, NGOs, newspapers and news agencies. Thus, the degree of impartiality would be identified, although, global media outlets’ commitment to the ideals of free media and dissemination of impartial and correct information and adherence to the principles of justice are doubtful.

Different attitude towards Syria and Myanmar

Global media’s polarized response to two different developments in the world only attests to the politically sponsored nature of their engagement. Syrian events are commonly known. CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera and others are continuously broadcasting one-sided reports on the human tragedies in Syria. Notwithstanding, those television channels and certain NGOs pursue their own interests while presenting the story.

Almost simultaneously, other appalling developments emerged in Myanmar that constituted a stain on mankind’s conscience. The Buddhists, supported by the Myanmar government, have committed genocide against the Muslims community. Tens of thousands were murdered and expelled from their homes. Top leadership of the country declared that the Muslims are not welcome in the country, which is sufficed to emphasize the motive for the atrocities.

However, the international community, especially the U.S. and the Western countries have turned a blind eye on the events. Incidental reports can be found in the Western media. Astonishingly, those Western television channels that instantly report the news of even a minor confrontation elsewhere in the world and skillfully present the event as a revolution or uprising fail to mention a word about the massacre of Muslims, and obstruct the news from resonating globally. Number of articles dedicated to the events in Syria and Myanmar are incomparable. These double standards are surely underpinned by politics.

Population of Myanmar is 48 million people and roughly 4% of those are Muslims that predominantly reside in the Arakan region. Muslims have always faced violence and atrocities that date back to the 1940s. The most appalling events took place in 1942, when Buddhist groups supported by the Burmese troops have massacred 150 thousand Muslims followed by the acts of genocide perpetrated by the communist General Ne Win that came to power in the wake of a coup in 1962, and subsequent assimilation of the Muslim population. All the mosques in the region were reduced to ruble. In 1978, some 200 thousand people were forced to flee to neighboring Bangladesh and events reoccurred in 1991 resulting expulsion of another 250 thousand.

Military regime has reigned in the country for years. Myanmar is the second to Afghanistan biggest producer of opium in the world. Russia is assisting Myanmar in the construction of experimental nuclear reactor. The country has dramatically increased its military spending, with Russia, China, India and Ukraine being the top arms suppliers. Traditionally, the official circles of the Western world are highly critical of such regimes but here we have another stance. The U.S. has eased its sanctions against the country in 2012, initially imposed due to the presence of the military regime in the country. International restrictions on the import of crudes and raw materials have also been lifted. Last November the U.S. has rendered 245 million USD of assistance to Myanmar. Barack Obama, Ban ki Moon, Jose Manuel Barroso, Tony Blair and George Soros have visited Myanmar in 2012.

New actors in the system of international relations are also rallying for support. International Monetary Fund issues positive growth forecasts on Myanmar, "Foreign Affairs” magazine (January/February 2013 edition) declares Myanmar the most attractive tourism and investment destination, ”Lonely Planet” travel magazine includes Myanmar into top 10 must see destinations in the world. "Amnesty International” is the only provider of news on atrocities in the country, while UN’s job was done by the adoption of a mere resolution. Global television channels, newspapers and magazines allow episodic news on the events.

What is it that compels the world to turn the blind eye on human tragedies? Myanmar possesses strategic geographic location and holds vast natural resources. There are significant reserves of gold, silver and other precious metals, along with oil and gas. Myanmar’s current production of 19 600 bbl/day of oil and 1.47 CBM of gas is going to increase by several times in the near future. It is not incidental that the likes of Shell, BP, Conoco/Philips, Chevron and others have already rolled up their sleeves. Large infrastructure projects are underway that includes energy export routes, construction in the new capital and other projects.

Needless to say that Myanmar has strategic geographic location. It is situated between two emerging global giants – China and India. Also it holds prominent position within ASEAN. Taking into account that ASEAN is set to become a common market as of 2015, many companies are eager to claim their share of the market. The West also needs this country to curb the growing Chinese influence over the region. Another important aspect is the proximity of China and India that make Western economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar ineffective.

Therefore, new political actors of the West remain indifferent to drama in Myanmar given the power struggle with China, eagerness to gain lucrative position in the common ASEAN market and prospects of involvement in important projects. Thus, global media outlets’ and NGO’s activities are consistent with the interests of transnational companies and countries they are supported by. Just approach appears to be an illusion and global economic crisis only exacerbates the crisis of justice that has already permeated the system of international relations.

Erestu Hebibbeyli

Ph.D in Economics

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