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Expert: Russia-ASEAN summit may become important element of Russia’s Eastern strategy

May 12, 2016, 11:41 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, May 12. /TASS/. The summit of Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may become an important moment in the strategy of Russia’s "U-turn to the East", Grigory Lokshin, the leading research fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Far Eastern Studies’ Vietnam and ASEAN Study Center, told TASS in an interview.

Lokshin, who is also a deputy chairman of the Russian-Vietnamese Friendship Association, was speaking shortly before the Russia-ASEAN summit that will be held in the southern Russian resort of Sochi on May 19-20.

He said it is "important to keep in mind that Russia is a Pacific country, we have the longest coast in that region."

"Most part of the country is in Asia, our most important interests are connected with that region - political, military-strategic and economic," Lokshin said. "We are not less than other countries of the region interested in its peace, stability and prosperity."

"The summit in Sochi is also a substantial event in the strategy of Russia’s development and in what relates to our full-scale ‘U-turn to the East’," he said.

The scholar said "in this case there are yet certain successes only in relations with China, but, unfortunately, it can’t be said that all our beginnings have been completed."

"Cooperation with Japan and Korea is to a high degree in stagnation. All the more significance is acquired by trade and economic ties and full-scale cooperation with ASEAN member countries," he said.

"It seems to me that this summit is fully in line with Russia’s interests, the interests of our people and economy," Lokshin said.

The summit of Russia and the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be held in Sochi on May 19-20 and will become the biggest international event in Russia in 2016.

ASEAN comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar with a total population of over 600 million people. The Association aims to develop cooperation in the economic, social, cultural and other spheres, and also strengthen peace and stability in Southeast Asia.

Russia has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN since July 1996. In December 2005, the first Russia-ASEAN summit was held in Kuala Lumpur. The summit participants signed a declaration on cooperation and approved an action plan - in effect a roadmap of Russia-ASEAN interaction. Similar partnership summits are normally held on the territory of member-states and the choice of Sochi as venue for the Russia-ASEAN summit on the partnership’s 20th anniversary is symbolic.

The summit will be held under the slogan "Towards Strategic Partnership for the Sake of the Common Good."

The summit is expected to adopt a declaration that will lay the basis for an action plan of Russia-ASEAN cooperation in the political, economic and cultural spheres, as well as in the sphere of security.

The gross domestic product of ASEAN member-states stands at about $3.5 trillion today and is expected to reach $4 trillion by 2020. ASEAN is becoming an increasingly attractive area for foreign investments, which grew by 16% in 2014 to over $136 billion.

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