SOCHI, May 19. /TASS/. A two-day Russia-ASEAN summit opens on Thursday in Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi, marking 20 years of Russia-ASEAN dialog partnership. It will be held under the slogan "Towards Strategic Partnership for the Sake of the Common Good".
The summit’s program will start with an official reception for the heads of delegations, Russian president’s aide Yuri Ushakov said. Direct work will start on May 20, when the leaders of ten ASEAN countries will meet with representatives of the Business Forum. It will be followed by a plenary session. Global and regional agenda, results of Russia-ASEAN cooperation in 20 years and guidelines of future cooperation are among the focal points.
The program will be continued by a working breakfast, where integration in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region will be discussed, namely prospects to interlink integration processes in Eurasia and in South-East Asia. The summit will end with a news conference, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, set up in 1967, brings together Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
The Business Forum will be held ahead of the summit, focusing on growth drivers in cooperation between Russia and ASEAN and Russia’s exports potentials.
The Sochi summit will be the third one in 20 years of dialog partnership The first Russia-ASEAN summit was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and the second one - in Hanoi in 2010.
‘We expect the summit to give an impetus to advance 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 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) considers Russia as an important dialogue partner and supports Moscow’s more active role in regional mechanisms, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh told TASS in an exclusive interview on Friday.
"We consider Russia as an important dialogue partner, the relations with which have been expanding and deepening over the last 20 years. Since the ASEAN-Russia Declaration on Progressive and Comprehensive Partnership was signed in Malaysia in 2005, our cooperation has encompassed such spheres as politics, security, trade, investment, science, technologies, education, food security, energy, agriculture, tourism, transport, disaster prevention and culture," the secretary general said.
The total population of ASEAN countries is 630 million people. 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.
Over the past five years, Russia’s’ trade with ASEAN has doubled, reaching a record 21.5 billion dollars in 2014. Last year, trade declined, in particular because of falling global prices of energy resources.
Russia pays special attention to developing trade and economic ties with the countries of the Asia Pacific but it does not mean Moscow is "turning to the East," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told Russian Business Guide in an interview published on the website of TPP Inform new agency on Thursday.
"First of all, I would not say Russia is ‘turning’ to the Asia Pacific," Morgulov said. "Our country is a world power situation on the Eurasian continent and building relations simultaneously with the West and the East," he said.
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.
Cooperation between integration associations in Eurasia and in the Asia-Pacific region will also be a top focus.
In his state-of-the nation address on December 3, 2015, Prsident Putin suggested colleagues from the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to begin consultations with countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on establishing economic partnership.
"I propose to begin consultations together with the colleagues from the Eurasian Economic Union on forming a possible economic partnership with the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as with the countries that are joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization," Putin said. Putin’s aide Ushakov confirmed prior to the summit that the issue would be discussed. He also pointed to a possibility to use potentials of China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project "in developing broad trans-regional partnership with ASEAN".
Security cooperation will be also a top focus as it is becoming increasingly important against the background of manifestation and growth of new challenges and threats.
Prospects for the development of cultural tourism and conservation of world cultural heritage will be discussed in Sochi by the Russian and ASEAN member countries’ ministers of culture.