5 April 201218:51

Article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov published in the Indonesian journal «Strategic Review» «Russia's Policy in Asia Pacific: Towards Peace, Security and Sustainable Development»


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Article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov published in Indonesian magazine Strategic Review Russia's Policy in Asia Pacific: Towards Peace, Security and Sustainable Development

The fact that the "centre of gravity" of the global growth is rapidly moving towards Asia and the Pacific has already become an axiom. The economies of the region have been demonstrating strong growth rate, notwithstanding the unfavourable international financial climate. The region is more and more often referred to as the driver of global development. Here we are witnessing the emergence of a new polycentric world order.

It is natural that Asia Pacific is one of the key priorities of Russia's foreign policy. That's why I readily accepted the offer made by Hassan Wirajuda, an old acquaintance of mine, a prominent politician and diplomat, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia and the publisher of Strategic Review, when he suggested that I share my views on the changes taking place in the region and tell about the contribution Russia intends to make to these processes.

Certainly, we are not newcomers in the Asia-Pacific region. Historically, Russia has been inseparably connected with many countries of the region. Our support was one of the determinant factors contributing to the victory of national liberation movements in Asia. The peoples of China, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and other countries remember this very well.

Now we are intensifying our efforts aimed at a deeper involvement in the processes of political and economic cooperation and integration in East Asia. It is a long-term policy carried out in a consistent and systematic manner.

Asia has every reason to view Russia as a crucial element of military and political stability as well as of sustainable development. We have no ideological differences with the nations of the region or thorny issues in our bilateral relations which could not be settled through a constructive dialogue. Among our strategic partners in the Asia-Pacific region are China, India and Vietnam, interested in a continued close and multifaceted cooperation with Russia. We are witnessing a fast-paced and mutually beneficial development of relations with Japan and South Korea, as well as of dialogue partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

We may effectively contribute to solving the region's energy, transport, scientific, technological and environmental problems, and our partners are well aware of that. Regional military and political stability, collective efforts to counter international terrorism, emergency response cooperation, or dialogue between civilizations are unimaginable without Russia.

Our country is a prominent member of regional multilateral and trans-regional associations such as BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), the Asia Cooperation Dialogue as well as the RIC format involving Russia, India and China. The fact that Russia has been placing a special emphasis on the Asian component of its foreign policy is proved by our country's debut in the East Asian Summits and the "Asia-Europe Meeting" in 2010.

We accord priority to the development of economic cooperation focusing on the areas where we have distinct advantages. I am primarily referring to the energy sector, including atomic energy, transport and space exploration.

Trade and economic relations between Russia and Asian States are getting stronger, and bilateral economic projects are being successfully implemented. We have started to build "modernization alliances" with China, India, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia based on innovation in the high value-added sectors of economy. A number of partners, including those from South Korea and China, show great interest in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre. We have been cooperating with China and India in such spheres as atomic energy, outer space, high technologies, etc. We will continue our interaction with Asia Pacific countries in the area of energy, including in the development of conventional and non-conventional energy sources and the creation of oil refining and liquefied gas production infrastructure. We will work to realize our potential in the use of the global navigation and telecommunication system, GLONASS.

The economic and infrastructural development of Siberia and the Far East is a strategic objective for Russia. We are sure that our partners from Asia Pacific will be able to make a significant contribution to the implementation of large-scale projects related to this objective on a mutually beneficial basis. Siberia and the Far East are endowed with huge natural, energy and other resources capable of giving a powerful boost to the future development of our country as well as of Asian states. An accelerated creation of an infrastructure connecting Europe and Asia in these regions also present a wide range of possibilities.

We attach great importance to our participation in the activities of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum which will be chaired by Russia this year. As President Dmitry Medvedev stressed last November at the APEC summit in Honolulu, we will ensure continuity in achieving the objectives promoted by the US and other former Chairs, as well as fully implement our own priorities. Such work has already begun. For example, the first APEC informal senior officials' meeting held in Saint Petersburg established APEC priorities for 2012, including further liberalization of trade and investment and deepening regional economic integration, cooperation for innovation-driven growth, improving transport and logistics and ensuring food safety. Meetings of a number of APEC working groups and the first senior officials' meeting will be held in Moscow as early as late January and February.

We closely follow the processes leading to the establishment of a system of free trade area agreements in Asia Pacific, including the framework of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia, which is promoted by the EAS and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Meanwhile, we are not sitting on our hands. The negotiations on a free trade area agreement between Russia and New Zealand are entering their final phase. This agreement will be signed on behalf of the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. A similar document is being negotiated with Vietnam. There are plans to form the same kind of partnership with ASEAN in the nearest future.

In September 2010 President Dmitry Medvedev and Chinese President Hu Jintao came forward with a joint initiative on strengthening security in Asia Pacific. Both leaders called on all nations of the Asia Pacific region to respect sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, not to interfere in the internal affairs of each other; to reaffirm the commitment to the principle of equal and indivisible security as well as the defensive nature of their military policy; not to use or threaten to use military force; not to take or support any actions aimed at overthrowing governments or undermining the stability of other states; to settle differences by peaceful political and diplomatic means based on the principles of common understanding and readiness to seek compromise; to strengthen cooperation in counteracting unconventional security threats; to develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the military sphere not directed against third countries as well as develop cross-border cooperation and people-to-people contacts.

We believe that this initiative can become a uniting idea for the Asia-Pacific. Positive response from many major Asia-Pacific countries proves that these principles can become a solid basis for elaborating a legally binding "code of conduct" for the region. We believe that it is time to explore political and legal options for their implementation.

It is critically important that such vision of a regional architecture strongly correlates with the concept of "dynamic equilibrium" introduced by H.E. Marty N. Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia. The main idea of the latter is the synergy of the efforts of Asia-Pacific countries aimed at supporting security, stability and prosperity.

The East Asia Summits is a natural venue for elaborating a holistic concept of inclusive security for East Asia. The outcome of the 6th East Asia Summit held on Bali on 19 November 2011 has shown that the leaders' dialogue can help to improve the effectiveness and coordination of multilateral efforts by the countries of the region and attain synergy. In our view, it would be in our common interest to further develop multilevel network diplomacy with the participation of the EAS and other regional organizations and forums, such as ASEAN, SCO, APEC, ASEAN Regional Forum, CICA and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, and build a system of complementary multilateral partnerships in Asia and the Pacific. East Asia Summits could become foundation of this network infrastructure. In view of Russia's Presidency in APEC, we are ready to make efforts in order to establish a partnership between APEC and the EAS.

In general terms, we believe that the political component, in particular regional security issues, should be an important part of the EAS agenda. It should include truly important strategic issues of cooperation in East Asia. In our view, it is inappropriate for the EAS to discuss the topics that could be better dealt with in a bilateral format or by other specialized regional structures. This could both overload the forum with work and lead to the emergence of factions and dividing lines inside it.

It is extremely important for us to continue the dialogue partnership with ASEAN. The Russia-ASEAN summit held in Hanoi in 2010 provided a strong impetus to its development. At present, we actively work to implement the agreements reached, primarily those on strengthening foreign policy cooperation. We have agreed upon approaches to the issues of improving the security and cooperation architecture in Asia-Pacific, which were reflected in the Joint Communiqué of the Foreign Ministers Meeting adopted in July 2011. At the same time, Russia actively supports strengthening the central role of ASEAN in the processes of political and economic integration in Asia-Pacific.

Mutual understanding on political level is a good basis for promoting practical cooperation, where we now move from single projects to implementing long term programmes in the most promising areas. Our country pays much attention to enhancing dialogue partnership with ASEAN in the area of modernization and high technology.

Intensive multilateral work with the countries of the region is supported by our efforts to strengthen bilateral ties where we seek a comprehensive effect. It is from these positions that Russia views the expansion and improvement of the whole range of relations with Indonesia - the largest country in South East Asia and an influential member of international community.

We are very optimistic about the prospects of Russian-Indonesian relations, which have been highly dynamic recently. We share the common interest to ensure durable peace, stability and sustainable development in Asia Pacific, which is our common home. Moscow and Jakarta believe in the need to adopt participatory, inclusive approaches towards maintaining regional security, responding to new challenges and threats both within the Asia-Pacific region and in the world on the whole. A trust-based political dialogue underlies Russian-Indonesian partnership.

The promising tone of bilateral cooperation is set by the concordant policies of our leaders aimed at the modernization-oriented and innovation-based development of the two economies. Both Russia and Indonesia are interested in increasing the percentage of advanced technology products in bilateral trade, for instance by introducing Russian aviation and space technologies and achievements made in satellite and telecommunications. Cooperation in the spheres of investment, science and technology, in the energy sector, including joint exploration and production of mineral resources, cultural and humanitarian exchanges provide good opportunities. There is a considerable potential for establishing an up-to-date infrastructure. We are currently discussing, in particular, a railway construction project for Kalimantan and the possible use of Russian GLONASS satellite navigation technologies in Indonesia. The Russian-Indonesian turnover reached nearly two billion US dollars last year, and that is just the beginning. We intend to boost bilateral trade up to five billion US dollars a year.

Russia has no hidden agendas in the region. Our state does not aim to forge covert military alliances that would threaten anyone's security. On the contrary, we look forward to intensifying diversified multilateral economic and political cooperation with all the countries that show such willingness. Cooperation for peace, stability and common prosperity is the key principle that determines the vector of our efforts in the Asia-Pacific dimension.

I am cordially greeting the participants and guests of the meeting of the ministers and heads of the transport services of BSEC member countries.

The necessity to create an effective multifunctional stable transport infrastructure, meeting the modern requirements, in the Black Sea region is driven by intentions to progressively build up multiple relations between the Black Sea countries and nations.

Russia consistently stands for the extension of mutually beneficial co-operation between the member countries of the Organisation in the transport area. We actively advocate implementation of the memorandums, signed within BSEC, on the development of the belt highways around the Black Sea, the Motorways of the Sea, facilitation of trucking. During the presidency of the Organisation in the current half-year period, our country submitted a new initiative regarding development of multimodal truck, passenger and ferry routes, which takes into account common needs of the states in the region.

I am convinced that your meeting will give an impulse to further strengthening of interaction between the transport services of BSEC countries, will facilitate securing a leading role to the Black Sea region in improvement of the transport corridors within wide Eurasian territory for the benefit of our countries and peoples.

I wish you successful and fruitful work.

21 October 2011

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