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Russia-ASEAN summit: ‘Towards Mutually Advantageous Strategic Partnership’

May 17, 2016, 19:17 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The summit due in Sochi on May 19-20 is to sum up the results of interaction over the past two decades

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A view of Sochi ahead of the Summit

A view of Sochi ahead of the Summit

© Artur Lebedev/TASS

MOSCOW, May 17. /TASS/. Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold their jubilee summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on May 19-20. This will be the first such summit held on Russian soil, Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said on Tuesday.

The summit, which will be held under the motto: "Russia-ASEAN: Towards Mutually Advantageous Strategic Partnership," is designed to sum up the results of interaction over the past two decades, the Russian presidential aide said.

The summit is also expected to provide guidelines for bringing Russia-ASEAN relations to a qualitatively new level, Ushakov said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which was established in 1967, currently comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the presidential aide said.

"All these countries will be represented at the highest and at a high level at the Sochi summit,’ Ushakov said.

The ASEAN chairmanship rotates annually and currently Laos chairs this organization. At the same time, Laos is now responsible for the association’s dialog with Russia, the presidential aide said.

The ASEAN Secretariat is headquartered in Jakarta. Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam Le Luong Minh assumed the post of the ASEAN Secretary-General in 2013 for a five year-term. He has also been invited to the Sochi summit, the Kremlin aide said.

ASEAN is a large-scale association with a population of 630 million people, making it the third largest integration bloc in the world. ASEAN’s GDP was estimated at $2.57 trillion in 2014. The rates of the association’s economic growth remaine stable and equalled 4.6% in 2014, the Russian presidential aide said.

ASEAN has full-fledged dialog partners, such as Australia, India, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia. ASEAN also maintains a separate dialog with the European Union, the Kremlin aide said.

"The Russia-ASEAN dialog was launched in July 1991 during a ministerial meeting, to which Russian representatives had been invited by the Malaysian government," Ushakov said.

"But Russia became a full-scale dialog partner in July 1996 at a meeting of ASEAN ministers in Jakarta," the Russian presidential aide said.

On behalf of Russia, this dialog partnership is exercised by the Russian ambassador to Indonesia who is ex officio Russia’s permanent representative at ASEAN, he noted.

"Let me note that the upcoming summit will be the third over the 20 years of the dialog partnership," the Russian presidential aide said, adding that the first such meeting at the highest level had been held in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and the second in Hanoi in 2010. The Sochi summit will be the first to be held on the Russian territory and the arrival of all the heads of state and governments of ASEAN member states "testifies to the importance of the Association’s versatile relations with our country."

According to Ushakov, the summit’s program will start on May 19 with an official reception for the heads of delegations. The summit’s direct work will begin on May 20 with a meeting of the leaders of the ten ASEAN countries with representatives of the Business Forum that will be held a day before that.

After that, the summit will hold its plenary session that will focus on global and regional issues, the results of the Russia-ASEAN interaction over the past 20 years and the guidelines of further cooperation, according to the Russian presidential aide.

The program will be continued by a working breakfast, which will discuss integration in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region, namely, the prospects of linking integration processes from South East Asia in the Eurasian space.

The program will be completed by a final press conference, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part.

On Russia’s behalf, all the forum’s events will be attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, Education Minister Dmitry Livanov, Minister for the Russian Far East Development Alexander Galushka, Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov, Energy Minister Alexander Novak and others.

The leaders of Russia and the ASEAN member states will adopt a Sochi declaration at the summit to highlight their general approaches to basic international and regional problems and the partnership’s further tasks.

"The text has already been agreed and is available in the Russian and English languages, i.e. the leaders should approve and adopt it at the plenary session," the Kremlin aide said.

The Russia-ASEAN summit is also expected to approve a comprehensive plan of measures to develop further cooperation in 2016-2020. This document is actually an addendum to the Sochi declaration. The plan has been approved by the foreign ministries of all the 11 countries.

Reputable representatives of the diplomatic service and economic circles have prepared a conceptual report on the strategic vision of future Russia-ASEAN relations. The report will be presented to the leaders of the countries at the plenary session.

‘We expect the summit to give an impulse to the promotion of Russian-ASEAN cooperation in all the fields," the Kremlin presidential aide said.

"A target will be outlined to bring partnership to a qualitatively new strategic level," he added.

The presidential aide cited a provision from the draft of the Sochi declaration: "The heads of state and governments of Russia and the ASEAN member states have agreed to continue strengthening their dialog partnership based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit, common responsibility for assisting measures, stability, security, prosperity, economic growth, sustainable development and social progress in the Asia-Pacific region for the purpose of promoting strategic partnership."

According to the presidential aide, the summit will also discuss developing ASEAN’s broad trans-regional cooperation with the involvement of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the potential of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project.

A broader and more diverse set of measures is currently under way in the context of the summit, the Kremlin aide said. The point is that visits by the heads of state and governments from ASEAN member states have been timed to coincide with the summit. Also, a meeting of the Association’s culture ministers and a culture festival will be held on May 19. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold a regular meeting with his counterparts from the ASEAN member states.

Russia has been a dialog 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 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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