President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr President, colleagues,
First of all I would like to thank our Vietnamese friends for their hospitality and excellent job organising the summit. Everything is in place to carry out productive work. We have to take stock of what has been done recently, and identify priority directions for the development of relations between Russia and ASEAN.
Before going on to our discussion of substantive issues, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Indonesian nation in connection with the recent natural disasters affecting their country, and to Thailand where similar problems have occurred.
Now regarding our common agenda: the successful construction of a new 'Asia-Pacific home' is in the interests of all countries involved, and chimes with their aspirations to develop a peaceful, productive life. I would like to stress once again that Russia is open to such cooperation (this is already our second meeting in this format). We are also open to various alliances aimed at economic modernisation, the development of inter-civilisational dialogue and fighting against both new and persistent old threats.
Today very significant potential is concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region. It already accounts for sixty percent of the global domestic product, half of world trade and about forty percent of total international investment. This reflects the fact that the centre of economic life has broadly shifted here; in turn, this creates new conditions for cooperation. For these reasons, the consideration of mutual interests, as well as building mutually beneficial and equal relations takes on all the more importance for the countries of the region. This approach is shared by many of our partners and we are ready to further develop our relations on the basis of these principles.
I would like to point out that all of our countries seek to obtain modern, equal and indivisible security, as well as settle disagreements through peaceful diplomatic means. These proposals are fully consistent with the shared ideals of ASEAN states.
I would also like to add that Russia has very considerable potential in the field of emergency response. As a rule, the world is generally threatened by various things. We already have good examples of successful cooperation with Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar. In our view, this experience could be expanded to the whole region, especially as accidents and natural disasters continue to take place.
We also believe that it is necessary to consolidate our work in all existing forums, namely all the multilateral institutions that operate in the Asia-Pacific region. I am referring to ASEAN, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and the East Asia summits (EAS). We also see the first ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting with dialogue partners (ADMM-Plus) that took place just a few days ago as promising.
We would like to ensure that consolidated work is developed in all these forums. We must also pay special attention to our business partnership.
Since the first ASEAN-Russia summit five years ago, we've established a sound legal framework and quite effective mechanisms for cooperation. Foreign ministers and economic ministers meet regularly, as do senior officials and experts in various fields. The joint ASEAN-Russian Federation Dialogue Partnership Financial Fund (DPFF) will also further cooperation, and we intend to increase our contributions to the Fund.
If talking about the economy, we must admit that the amount of economic cooperation between Russia and ASEAN member states remains quite modest. Last year (though it was a crisis year) our mutual trade amounted to about seven billion dollars. Let's hope that this year's volume will be higher, but there still are things to do in this respect and we want to use the rich potential of our partnership in order to convert it into practical actions and concrete agreements.
Russia is ready to get actively involved in integration processes in order to modernise its economy and, of course, hopes that the conditions necessary for the exchange of goods, technologies and investments will be created.
In this context I am expecting that we will be able to prepare a so-called road map for trade and economic investment cooperation. In late August 2010, the first meeting of economic ministers from Russia and ASEAN states was held, and they decided to draw up such a road map.
As I understand it, this document has to be absolutely specific and clearly lay out the main areas of cooperation between our countries. Promising ones are the high-tech sector, including engineering, material sciences and medicine, as well as the implementation of a number of Russian proposals on technological cooperation in remote sensing and satellite navigation. We have worked on the latter quite actively in recent years and that certainly helps in preventing natural disasters. Creating spacecraft is also very, very interesting for our countries.
Cooperation in electric power, civilian nuclear energy, renewable energies and, naturally, the gas sector hold special value for us. Such cooperation can be both bilateral and multilateral. Our countries' specialists have already prepared a relevant programme for the period from 2010 to 2015.
Among the various measures that may stimulate Russia-ASEAN dialogue in the economic sphere, I would also like to mention the dialogue between our businesspeople. This includes holding business forums: forums not simply for business representatives, but also the representatives of various regions. The meeting between representatives of our business communities during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (held two days ago in Hanoi) represents a concrete step in this regard.
The information policy concerning joint efforts to develop our partnership is also important and the role of the ASEAN Centre, which opened this year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, is very promising. The first issue of a magazine devoted to cooperation in this field is already out. It was just published and we hope to see a more intensive exchange of information on ASEAN issues.
Russia supports ASEAN efforts to establish a three-pronged community in the field of politics and security, economic development and the socio-cultural sphere.
We are also prepared to help close the gap in development levels between ASEAN countries. This informs the terms of our cooperation with Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand in the development programmes of the Mekong River Basin. We are also ready to assist ASEAN countries ensure their food security and train their national personnel, which has a long-standing historical basis.
The development of inter-civilisational and interfaith dialogue is also important. I think that the international community can learn from ASEAN, which is characterised by ethno-cultural and religious diversity, as well as long-standing traditions of mutual respect among various religions.
The Agreement on Cultural Cooperation that our foreign ministers will sign today opens up great prospects for cooperation.
Next year the ASEAN-Russia partnership will celebrate its 15th year, and in light of this I propose we prepare a programme of Russian cultural days in ASEAN countries and those of ASEAN countries in the Russian Federation. In short, that's what I wanted to say and I look forward to a productive exchange of views.