3 August 200710:46

Summary of Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at Plenary Meeting of 14th Session of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Manila, August 2, 2007

1241-03-08-2007

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Esteemed Mr. Chairman,

Esteemed colleagues,

First of all I would like to thank our Philippine colleagues for the excellent organization of the present events in Manila.

Our meeting is being held in the conditions when the international community is in the process of elaborating adequate responses to the challenges and threats of our time. We are firmly convinced that this is possible only by combining efforts. One of the chief objectives in this context we believe is agreeing universal principles for ensuing security that can be a reliable guarantee of peace and prosperity. We allot a substantial role in its solution to the ASEAN Regional Forum as one of the authoritative mechanisms for shaping common approaches of the countries of the region.

The extensive tasks Russia suggested during its presidency of the G8 still retain their relevance, particularly as applied to the AP region. Cooperation in ensuring energy and information; combating contagious diseases; the development of education and trade, and the issues of climate protection and ecology determine the "face" of the contemporary political agenda not only of the AFR, but also of other major multilateral associations, the SCO, APEC, ACD.

A vivid example: energy. For us the creation of a reliable, comprehensive system of energy safety is not a whim, but a strategic objective. Given the steadily growing requirements of the region's states in hydrocarbon raw materials, the problem of arranging an uninterrupted supply of the region's countries with energy resources can be tackled only by acting jointly. We are already working in this direction, and hope that a full-scale launch of the Sakhalin projects and the completion of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline will help ensure energy security in the AP region. We are keen to forge mutually advantageous cooperation with the foreign partners in developing the rich oil and gas fields of Siberia and the Russian Far East. Russia is ready to share its developments on alternative sources of energy.

We regard the present situation in the AP region as generally relatively stable and predictable. At the same time it cannot but worry us that there still lingers quite a lot of "flammable" material for conflicts, and risks and threats make themselves felt that could destabilize the situation.

The danger of WMD proliferation in the region, particularly in the context of the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem, poses the greatest concern. We welcome the recently emerging positive shifts within the six-party negotiation process. Russia did all it could to help bring this about. At the same time it is obvious that we have yet to travel a long road to a final settlement of all the differences and the finding of mutually acceptable solutions.

The situation surrounding the nuclear program of Iran remains complicated. We call on Iran to fully comply with the requirements of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We see no alternative to a politico-diplomatic way of unblocking the problem. We welcome the emerging positive shifts in Iran's contacts with the IAEA. Removing the world community's concerns about the nuclear activities of Iran lies at the base of this problem. All the rest is secondary. Only through cooperation with the IAEA will Teheran be able to restore full trust in its nuclear program. Everyone stands to gain from this.

We positively assess the draft proposed by our American colleagues of an ARF Statement in Support of the Implementation of UNSCR 1540, especially as Russia was one of its cosponsors. We think that the adoption of this document would be a useful contribution to the cause of strengthening the nonproliferation regime.

In any society terror has no right to exist. At the same time, the civil war unfolding in Iraq, the stalling and rollbacks in the Middle East peace process, and the absence of peace and national consensus in Afghanistan are feeding the terrorist threat. Hence the urgent need to solve these problems as soon as possible, which is possible only on lines of their real internationalization.

We favor the struggle against international terrorism acquiring a systemic character in ARF activities. Under the Forum's auspices, a solid antiterrorist arsenal has already been developed. Submitted by the ARF Section of the ASEAN Secretariat for our approval, the Framework Agreements of the Forum Participants on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism and Transnational Crime, are testimony to this. The task now is to ensure their practical implementation.

It is obvious that the security system in the region must be one and indivisible, a result of collective efforts by all members of the regional community. This rules out the formation of any "alternative" entities or "narrow" formats whatsoever which, as practice shows, are hardly capable of yielding the sought-for result. I believe that the absolute majority of those present share this kind of network approach.

The questions of the struggle against the new challenges and threats in the AP region encompass a whole range of tasks that cannot be viewed in isolation from each other. It is impossible to unblock existing conflicts or prevent new ones from arising by the use of force. Creative approaches are needed here, devoid of ideological blinkeredness and founded on common sense and collective analysis of existing problems. In our opinion, one of the chief objectives is to do everything possible to help bring peoples closer together on the basis of mutual respect, equal cooperation and understanding and the promotion of intercivilizational and intercultural dialogue. By virtue of its geopolitical position and multinational and multiconfessional character Russia intends to actively help forge that dialogue within the ARF, and promote the ideas of tolerance.

Our proposal to adopt an ARF Statement on the Development of Intercivilizational Dialogue has been prompted by just these considerations, the desire to give an impulse to multilateral collaboration. We feel that the ARF will not be able to stay aloof from work in this important sphere, which is the focus of attention of the UN and its Secretary General. I wish to thank all the colleagues who made a contribution to finalizing the document being presented to you today.

The ARF is currently going through an important stage of looking for its own "niche" in the system of contemporary international relations and we face the crucial task of deciding which direction to take in the further evolution of the Forum.

On the one hand, the need for internal consolidation is beyond doubt. On the other – a number of states would like to join the ARF. Moreover, the Forum would only gain from their participation. Perhaps it is worthwhile to analyze more carefully the advisability of the current temporary moratorium, which, in addition, bears an obviously selective character.

We believe that more energetic moves are required to arrange practical interaction between the ARF Section in the ASEAN Secretariat and the administrative structures of such authoritative regional organizations as the SCO and CICA. Especially as we last year in Kuala Lumpur adopted the appropriate conceptual document. This would constitute an important step along the road of building up multilateral cooperation in the field of security.

We are convinced that multilateral cooperation and collective mechanisms, based on international law, with the UN playing a central coordinating role, must underlie a future world pattern. This approach is determinant for the present trends in the AP region. And the activities of the ARF, in our view, open the way to the formation of a truly sustainable and truly multilateral security architecture in the region. For its part, Russia will continue facilitating this process.

Thank you for your attention.

August 3, 2007

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