Sergei Demidenko, an expert on Arab affairs at the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis
Question: What could you say about the work of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) 40 years after its inception?
Answer: I cannot say that the work done by OIC has been effective. Unfortunately, the Organization comprises countries with various political, cultural and economic interests. In effect, the OIC is a kind of discussion club, which does not adopt any decisions but creates a necessary platform and facilitates long-term decisions. On the whole, the OIC is more of a discussion club.
Q.: What, in your opinion, has the OIC accomplished in the past 40 years?
A.: The OIC is probably one of the few discussion platforms in the world that enables Islamic countries to discuss various important regional and civilizational issues now of concern to the Arab world and the Islamic world. We should keep in mind that the OIC is one of the few organizations dominated by former Third World countries. This is very important because it is probably the only platform where they can discuss their problems without the great powers, the United States, the European Union and their pressure, and tackle various issues together.
Q.: Do you think these countries and the world as a whole would not fare better without the OIC?
A.: It is not completely correct to pose the question this way. I believe this organization should be viewed in the long-term context. The OIC can play a constructive role in the future. But, in my opinion, this will happen after most Islamic countries achieve success, primarily in the economic and political spheres. Consequently, such countries will gain a voice among industrial states. Quite possibly, the OIC will then be able to draft more or less important decisions.
At present, the OIC is just a conglomerate of states that are multidirectional in all respects.
Q.: What could you say about specific contacts and cooperation between the OIC and Russia?
A.: Russia has observer status with the OIC and must retain its presence in this organization. Whether we like it or not, Russia is also part of the Islamic world because many of its citizens preach Islam. Russia must keep its eyes open and follow various political and economic trends in the Islamic world because this directly affects us.
Q.: What should the OIC do in order to increase its influence in the solution of regional and global problems?
A.: OIC leaders are unable to change anything in this respect. An evolutionary process is a top priority. The organization will change, depending on changes in the Islamic world’s socio-political situation. Its role will also change as a result.