ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
Comment by the Information and Press Department on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the ASEAN-Russia Ministerial Meeting, East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting and the 23rd ASEAN Regional Forum on Security
On July 25−26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the annual high-level ASEAN events in Vientiane (Laos). The Russian delegation seeks to further strengthen Russia’s positions in the Asia-Pacific Region, and develop bilateral and multilateral cooperation with our partners.
ASEAN is a leading international association in the Asia-Pacific Region, with a total population of over 630 million people and a total GDP of over $2.4 trillion. The association is an active participant in the region’s integration and a backbone of many important multilateral platforms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Security and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus).
The ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership marks its 20th anniversary this year. The meeting between Russia’s leaders and the 10 states in Sochi on May 19−20 was the highlight of this anniversary year. For the first time, the ASEAN-Russia Summit took place in Russia. The agreement on redefining ASEAN-Russia relations as a stronger strategic partnership was the main outcome of the summit. The goal was formally included in the Sochi Declaration and the specific measures to reach this goal were set out in the Comprehensive Plan of Action to Promote Cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Russian Federation in 2016−2020.
It is expected that the ASEAN-Russia Foreign Ministers Meeting on July 25 will result in practical steps to carry out the decisions of the Sochi summit. The Foreign Ministry intends to reaffirm Russia’s support of ASEAN’s key role in regional issues, and Russia’s willingness to cooperate in order to ensure the stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific Region, and to build an equal and balanced security and collaboration framework in the region.
The Foreign Ministry places great emphasis on cooperation in the face of new threats and challenges, including terrorism and transnational crime, drug trafficking, maritime piracy and illegal immigration. We will continue to assist with reinforcement of the ASEAN law enforcement personnel. At the meeting in Vientiane, we will inform our partners about Russia’s capabilities in this respect.
We are giving priority consideration to promoting our economic ties, building up trade turnover and mutual investment, and improving the regional transport infrastructure. We will also stress the importance of consistent implementation of the ASEAN-Russia working plans in energy, science, technology and agriculture adopted this year, and plans regarding active involvement of the business community in solving these tasks, as well as expansion of mutually beneficial project activity.
President Putin’s initiative on establishing an overarching economic partnership including the EAEU, ASEAN and SCO members was unanimously upheld by the ASEAN leaders in Sochi, which laid a foundation for harmonisation of the current integration processes in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific. Therefore, Russia will be steering the ASEAN community towards specific frameworks and procedures to solve the task set at the summit, and formalising the contacts between the Eurasian Economic Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat.
We are satisfied with the implementation of events during the ASEAN-Russia Cross-Year of Culture that have culminated in a meeting of culture ministers, a festival of Russian culture and the ASEAN-10 festival of culture in Sochi. We strive to forge further cultural and academic ties with ASEAN. The establishment of the Russia-ASEAN working group on education, the organisation of the University Forum in Vladivostok, a regular youth summit in Cambodia and performances of a combined youth symphony orchestra in Laos are on the agenda.
On July 26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the 6th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, a leading venue for dialogue between Asia Pacific heads of state on strategic long-term issues of all-round regional development.
Currently, the East Asia Summit unites 10 ASEAN states and ASEAN dialogue partners – Australia, India, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, the United States and Japan. Russia joined the forum during the 5th East Asia Summit in October 2010 in Hanoi.
Participants in the ministerial meeting will focus on drafting the agenda of the 11th East Asia Summit, scheduled to be held on September 8 in the capital of Laos. The ministers are to review cooperation in such priority areas as finance, energy, emergency management, healthcare, education and regional interdependence, and they will discuss ways of improving the forum’s performance. The results of the discussion will be summed up in the chairperson’s statement.
Russia aspires to equitable cooperation with its partners and to promote a unifying agenda at the forum in the interests of maintaining peace, stability and sustained development in the Asia-Pacific Region.
We perceive the East Asia Summit as a key element of building a transparent, open and all-encompassing system of equal and indivisible security based on the primacy of international law, mutual trust, and principles for the peaceful resolution of disputes, the non-use of force or the threat to use force. We are confident that the forum can play the lead role in drafting common rules for all regional states.
In this context, we consider it important to further expand multilateral dialogue regarding the creation of a regional security system at the EAS venue. Five rounds of relevant consultations have taken place – in Bandar Seri Begawan (November 2013), in Moscow (April 2014), in Jakarta (October 2014), in Phnom Penh (July 2015) and in Beijing (June 2016). We are determined to continue a constructive discussion of this issue with our partners, so as to eventually finalise an overarching document on regional security. We believe that such work should be conducted stage by stage at a pace that would suit all participants to the greatest possible extent.
The concerned Russian agencies and departments are becoming actively involved in intra-EAS cooperation in the area of ensuring transport, economic and financial interdependence.
We support the activity of the Asia Pacific Leaders Malaria Alliance in the area of healthcare. We are involved in energy dialogue. We have drafted education proposals. We have made substantial headway for expanding cooperation in the area of emergency response, including in the context of the Russian initiative to merge regional centres for managing crisis situations of Asian and European countries into a joint partner network.
The 23rd ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a pillar of the regional system and an important venue for practical cooperation on specific aspects of maintaining peace and stability in the region, will take place on the same day. Launched in 1994, this mechanism currently involves 27 participants, including 10 ASEAN member states, its dialogue partners, as well as some other countries, such as Pakistan, Mongolia and North Korea.
As usual, the agenda includes confidence-building measures and preventive diplomacy issues, efforts to combat terrorism and organised crime, disarmament issues, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, emergency response and maritime safety. The Russian side is actively involved in ARF work on all tracks. We prioritise expanded cooperation in the forum’s relatively new areas, including the safe use of information and communication technologies, and space activities.
Russia, which also oversees cyber security issues at the ARF, advocates the complete implementation of a specialised working plan that was adopted last year and the creation of an auxiliary open-end group. Russia helps promote all-round and comprehensive dialogue on space cooperation. In 2015, Russia co-chaired a specialised conference together with China, the United States and Laos. We also plan to take an active part in the next such event in the autumn of 2016.
After the session, the participants are to issue statements on the trans-border prosecution of criminals; expanded cooperation between agencies maintaining law and order on the high seas; and the crackdown on illegal, unregistered and unregulated fishing. They will also approve an action plan for the next period. We are confident that all this will help us respond more effectively to common threats.
During their meetings, the ministers will compare their stances on topical global and regional issues, and they will discuss approaches towards addressing international issues, including the increase in ISIS terrorist activity, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Sergey Lavrov will hold bilateral meetings with Asia Pacific foreign ministers on the sidelines of ASEAN events.