18 March 201017:29

Speech by Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexei Borodavkin at the Theoretical and Practical Conference Organized by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on the Theme of “The Asia-Pacific Region and Russian National Security,” Moscow, March 18, 2010


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First of all allow me on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to welcome the participants of the theoretical and practical conference on the topical theme of Russian national security in the context of the situation in the Asia-Pacific region (APR). I hope that at the conference it will be possible to thoroughly consider the whole spectrum of regional factors that affect the security of our country, and to formulate proposals for strengthening it.

What is the significance of APR for Russia? First of all, it is an area where there are three quarters of the territory of our country. It is vast natural resources, a strong industrial base, a solid scientific and technical potential, and highly qualified personnel. But it's also problems that have accumulated over the years. To boost our eastern territories in socio-economic terms is a daunting task. Its solution will largely predetermine the future of Russia, the prospect of preserving our country as one of the most influential countries in the world in the XXI century. This task is inseparable also from the policy of modernizing and transferring our country's economy on to an innovative path of development, formulated by the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev.

Today in APR we witness processes that have far-reaching implications not only for the countries situated there, but for the future of the global world order in general. The dominant tendencies are the dynamic growth, despite the crisis, of new centers of economic growth and political influence, above all China and India, the deepening of regional economic integration, the growth of interdependence, a striving towards the harmonization of interests and, as a consequence, the step-up of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy.

All this reflects positively on the situation in the region, helping to create a new, more equiponderant polycentric international system. For Russia, this opens up favorable opportunities in terms of addressing the challenges facing us.

But whereas the political and economic processes in APR are generally developing with a plus sign, the situation in the realm of regional security cannot but cause concern. For a variety of reasons the region lacks a coherent system of collective security arrangements. While the question in the Euro-Atlantic area is one of improving the existing structures so as to create a common security space from Vancouver to Vladivostok – the focus of our initiative for a European Security Treaty in particular– we observe in the Asia-Pacific region, from Vladivostok to Vancouver, a clear shortage of such mechanisms, along with their insufficient effectiveness.

Security in the region still rests on a fragile balance of economic and military power of the key "players." The bilateral and trilateral military and political structures that function here, usually involving the United States, have positioned themselves as the basis for regional security. However, these bloc structures have an inherent source of the existing dividing lines in APR, of mutual mistrust and suspicion. This makes the countries of the region outside the US "umbrella" search for additional possibilities to strengthen their own security.

The most typical example is tension on the Korean Peninsula, which certainly poses a major threat to regional security and stability. Pyongyang's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons are unacceptable either for us or for other Asia-Pacific countries. Moreover, this not only would not enhance the security of the DPRK, but also would lead to an escalation of tensions in Northeast Asia, and so – it would jeopardize the security of North Korea itself. Such a scenario could provoke a further arms buildup in the sub-region. By the way, the Korean "knot" serves as a plausible excuse for deployment of a regional missile defense system in APR.

The fact that over the years since the end of the Korean War and later of the Cold War, a lasting peace has not been established on the Korean Peninsula speaks eloquently about the presence in APR of egregious relics of the confrontational era. They must be disposed of. We understand in this context, the concerns of all states in the region, including the DPRK, about their security. Yet it should not be ensured by military, but by international legal and politico-diplomatic means, including through the establishment of a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism, work on which was successfully launched, and hopefully will continue in the relevant working group under the chairmanship of Russia in the six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

There are other problems adversely affecting security in the Asia-Pacific region. Significant potential for conflict is fraught with the remaining differences on the question of sovereignty over islands and waters in the South China Sea. We support the efforts of the states involved in this territorial dispute to find political and diplomatic solutions that would meet the interests of strengthening security in Southeast Asia and APR as a whole.

The threats of international terrorism, ethnic separatism, religious extremism, illicit drug trafficking, transnational organized crime, and sea piracy are having a destabilizing effect on regional and national security in the region. To counter these threats singlehandedly is impossible. Therefore, Russia is vigorously cooperating on these issues with partners in the Asia-Pacific region, bilaterally and in the multilateral format.

The global financial and economic crisis has brought to the countries of the region new acute problems – turmoil in financial markets, threats to energy and food security. The inevitable consequence is not only an increased risk of internal destabilization in individual states, but also tougher competition between countries over access to energy resources, to strategic transport routes, to finance sources and to consumer markets. The appearance of these challenges once again highlights the inevitability of joint efforts by all Asian-Pacific countries to ensure political stability and sustainable regulated development.

For Russia, there is the presence of a number of other negative factors, which we have to take into account when considering the issues of strengthening national security. These include Japan's territorial claims on the four southernmost Kuril Islands. In relations with Japan we will continue to patiently work on the development of bilateral relations, cooperation and partnership, which over time, we are sure, will lead the parties to a mutually acceptable solution to the problem of territorial demarcation. At the same time we should give serious consideration to strengthening the military-political component of our dialogue with Tokyo, which is still at a very low level.

The multilateral discussion that has begun on the parameters for a future security architecture in APR provides us with broad opportunities to advance our approaches. Russia favors establishing an equal and transparent security system in the region, predicated on collective elements, the norms and principles of international law and consideration for the interests of all countries of the region. We suggest moving in this direction through the development of multilateral network diplomacy and creation of a partnership network of regional organizations and fora. An important role here belongs to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, actively forging contacts with multilateral associations in the Asia-Pacific region.

We call upon our partners in the region to give priority to strengthening the legal framework of security in the Asia-Pacific region and to better reflect the military and political commitments of the states of the region. They should envisage confirmation of the principle of indivisibility of security, the development of conventional weapons on the basis of the principle of reasonable sufficiency, and giving military doctrines of the states of the region a non-offensive character.

Also obvious is the need for practical steps to enhance regional security. This, above all, includes carrying out confidence building measures in the military field, and forging bilateral and multilateral military cooperation that is not directed against third countries.

To advance these ideas, we have a handy interactive platform – the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). We intend to actively use the Shangri-La Dialogue international security conference annually held in Singapore, which brings together defense ministers and chiefs of general staffs of the APR countries. We plan that high-ranking Russian officials will attend this summer's event. It is advisable to interact through the defense ministers with ASEAN, whose role in regional security is of no small importance and will continue to grow.

Reliable security of the eastern borders of Russia is a precondition for the implementation of the tasks of modernization of our economy, especially in relation to the areas of Siberia and the Russian Far East. A striking example of cooperation in the fields of security and socioeconomic development with the neighboring Asian countries are our relations with China, Mongolia, Vietnam and South Korea. The potential of such cooperation is being used to uplift the Asian part of Russia.

This takes into account the inadmissibility of falling into dependence on foreign economies and of Siberia and our Far East becoming a raw materials appendage. We carefully monitor the migration situation in the east of the country in order to prevent undesirable demographic skews.

In this context, the role of parliamentary and public diplomacy increases. Efforts being undertaken by the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the chambers of the Federal Assembly, the Siberian and far eastern regions, NGOs, and the academic and business community are focused on promoting friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation with the Asian-Pacific countries, especially with our strategic partners. We are faced with the task of actively engaging in the APR integration processes, particularly in light of Russia's APEC chairmanship in 2012, of increasing our contribution to the work of multilateral regional entities, of promoting conflict resolution and of participating in collective efforts to build an effective security and cooperation architecture for the Asia-Pacific region.

March 18, 2010

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