ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
INTERVIEW OF RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL SPOKESMAN ALEXANDER YAKOVENKO IN CONNECTION WITH ASEAN EVENTS
Q.: Sessions of the ASEAN Regional Forum /ARF/ on security are held annually. What goals are they meant to achieve?
A.: This year the 10th anniversary session of the ASEAN Regional Forum on security issues, as well as post-ministerial ASEAN plus 10 partners on dialog and ASEAN-Russia conferences will be held on June 17-19 in the capital of Cambodia, Pnompenh. The Russian delegation will be headed by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
Russia attaches special importance to these annual events that involve 22 states of the Asia-Pacific region /APR/, including ASEAN member states, China, the US, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, North Korea, as well as the European Union. We view them as today's unique mechanism of the regional scale to discuss the most topical problems and to work out coordinated responses to modern challenges.
During the visit to Pnompenh, Igor Ivanov is expected to hold a number of bilateral meetings with counterparts from the region's leading states in order to discuss topical international problems and Russia's relations with these countries.
Q.: What problems will be the centerpiece of the Pnompenh events?
A.: We believe it justified that the meetings in Pnompenh will focus on the issues of counteracting international terrorism and crime /drug trafficking, piracy, money laundering, illegal immigration, slave trade/. Importantly, the theme of ASEAN anti-terrorist agenda has recently been echoing the G8 activities in this direction. We believe that the APR countries have turned towards practical joint measures, and intensified their participation in global fight against new threats. We welcome the launched mechanism of ARF inter-session meetings on counteracting terrorism and international crime, and support the Forum's intention to adopt statements "On counter-terrorist cooperation in border security" and "On cooperation in fight against piracy and other threats to security at sea." We hope that the Pnompenh meetings will see a sincere and efficient exchange of opinions on the key aspects of international and regional situation, including the situation in post-war Iraq and the Middle East peace settlement. In this connection we intend to discuss with our partners the ways and methods of strengthening the UN leading role and compliance with common norms of international legislation when dealing with conflicts.
Q.: As you have said, the forthcoming ARF session is its 10th anniversary. What is the main result of the forum's 10-year activities and its outlook for the future?
A.: The forum approaches its anniversary having established itself as an influential union that has a stabilizing effect on the region's political processes. One of the core elements in the ARF activities at the present stage is strengthening mutual trust between the region's states. It has already accumulated a significant potential in this area. The next step is to gradually enter the stage of preventive diplomacy based on coordinated principles.
Yet another important direction of the ARF process is development of dialog between the defence departments of its member states, we believe. It is necessary to use them more actively in solving common tasks, to give them additional, including organizational, opportunities for interaction.
Q.: What is the agenda of the post-ministerial ASEAN plus 10 conference?
A.: During the post-ministerial ASEAN plus 10 conference, the Russian party will take an active part in discussing the Association's interaction with its partners on political and economic dialog. The main topics of the forthcoming meeting include collective efforts to counteract terrorism and other international threats, perspective of including Russia and other dialog partners in fulfilling the programs of ASEAN regional integration and social and economic development, taking into account the WTO and G8 activities.
Another landmark will be signing of the Joint declaration on partnership in the cause of peace and security and on prosperity and development of the APR by the ASEAN and Russian foreign ministers. It will be the first document in the history of Russia-ASEAN relations that will create a judicial and political basis for our partnership with the Association. This step should directly result in intensification of our relations in all spheres: trade and economic, cultural, scientific, transport, energy and other spheres. At the ministerial ASEAN-Russia meeting we intend to make definite proposals on establishing cooperation with the 10 partners in education and health care, including fight against SARS.
Meeting the repeated requests of the ASEAN, Russia is going to confirm its principled readiness to join the Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation in Southeast Asia of 1976 /the Bali agreement/ as a basis for preserving peace and stability in the region, a kind of "rules of conduct."