Valdai Club experts were polled on the results of 2013 and the most important events and people who influenced or changed international affairs. The majority of the experts agreed that Vladimir Putin was Person of the Year.
Hasan Kanbolat , Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, Turkey, said that Vladimir Putin managed to prevent military intervention in Syria, which could have worsened the situation both in Syria and the region. “His proposal to control Syrian WMD was a strategic mastermind,” he said.
Soo-Heon Park, Professor of the Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea, highlighted Putin’s contribution to the settlement in Syria. He said: “Russian President Putin played a significant part in preventing the civil war in Syria from escalating into a full-blown international crisis by presenting his plan to scrap Syrian chemical weapons.” This opinion is shared by Japanese expert Taisuke Abiru, who believes that “there would not have been a positive development in Iran's nuclear issue” were it not for Putin’s initiatives.
Sheng Shiliang , Research Fellow at the Xinhua Center for World Affairs Studies, mentioned Putin’s other achievements, such as putting a stop on Ukraine’s westward drift, clever policy regarding Russia’s opposition, and smart actions taken to maintain sociopolitical stability in Russia. Gabor Stier, Head of the Foreign Affairs Desk of the Hungarian newspaper - Magyar Nemzet, said when choosing Putin as person of the year that “Russia’s global influence is growing.”
Edward Snowden was named by experts Person of the Year no.2. According to those polled Snowden symbolized a new international trend in 2013.
Jeffrey Mankoff, Fellow and Deputy Director of the Russia & Eurasia Program of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (USA), explained his choice of Snowden as follows: “He pulled back the curtain on an unprecedented government surveillance campaign that complicated US relations with both allies (Germany) and others (Russia, Brazil) and forced a much needed debate on the right balance between security and freedom.”
Gerhard Mangott, Professor of International Relations at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, cast his vote for “Edward Snowden, who, risking his personal freedom, has uncovered a web of untenable surveillance activities by the NSA, which seriously undermine human and civil rights.”
Alexander Konkov , Head of the Division for International Peer Review at the Analytical Center for the Russian Government, said that by doing what he did Edward Snowden showed that “when online, one is no less vulnerable than when offline.”
Some Valdai Club experts share the view of the Time magazine, which named Pope Francis its Person of the Year. Bruno Sergi, Professor of International Economics, University of Messina, said that Pope Francis is “a revolutionary who wants to change the universal church and bring it closer to the faithful by means of simple and direct language, very different from his predecessor, who amazed the world with his resignation, a quite unexpected choice, leaving many unanswered questions behind.”
Andrzej de Lazari, Professor of the University of Lodz, believes that the election of Pope Francis gave believers around the world hope that “the hierarchic Catholic Church will become more tolerant.” Krzysztof Zanussi, a Polish producer and film director, expressed a similar view. He believes that by “revitalizing the Western Catholic Church Pope Francis is bringing back the spiritual perspective of our civilization.”
Other candidates for Person of the Year 2013 were Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and 16-year-old Pakistani educational campaigner Malala Yousafzai, who has been nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.