Question: What is Your opinion of the development of the APEC process and the integration of the Russian Federation in the APEC community?
Answer: I think that almost the two decade-long history of APEC’s development more than convincingly attests to the relevancy of the Forum. It has indeed become an authoritative dialogue ground and integrating structure where commonly accepted rules are elaborated for trade and economic cooperation on the huge space of the Asia-Pacific region. And, even more importantly, APEC’s work serves the interests of regional security and stability, and consolidation of principles of multilateral cooperation in international affairs.
The Bogor Goals Mid-Term Stocktake undertaken last year provided plenty of food for thought. On the one hand, APEC gives opportunities that promote trade and investment facilitation in the region and, by and large, enhance the formation here of a favorable business climate. On the other hand, equally obvious is the need to modify the program tasks of APEC, to rejuvenate the Forum adapting it to the realities of today’s world.
It is evident that, given the dynamic evolution of economic situation in the world and the region, the Bogor Goals of open and free trade and investment while preserving their fundamental importance can no longer be seen as something static. Otherwise we risk to face a situation where the rigidly fixed timeframes will be at variance with both the logic of development and the real capacities of APEC member economies. But any step in the context of APEC reform must be well-balanced and gradual in nature and taken only after a thorough analysis of each and every member’s recommendations.
We also believe that APEC reform process has to preserve the principles of consensus and voluntarism as the main pillars of APEC’s work. It is basically thanks to these principles that we have at our disposal a flexible regional mechanism which enables us to discuss and jointly seek responses to the most serious challenges.
Russia most actively participates in APEC’s projects and activities backing up this line with practical deeds. Let me mention, for instance, the satisfactory results of APEC TPT-WG meeting in Vladivostok in 2005 and the APEC EWG meeting earlier this month in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.
We realize well that the implementation of the plans of socio-economic development of Russia is inconceivable without our full-scale participation in the regional integration. Constructive involvement in these processes is our strategic choice and a major task both in on-going activities and for the future.
Question: The main theme of the Vietnamese Presidency in APEC in 2006 is “Towards a Dynamic Community for Sustainable Development and Prosperity”, among its priorities is achieving secure and favorable business environment. How would you comment and how you evaluate the participation of Russian economy in the APEC Year – Vietnam 2006?
Answer: The theme declared by Vietnam indeed allows us to consider a very broad range of issues relating to bringing up trade and investment activities, economic and technological cooperation in the region.
It is important that the Vietnamese partners propose focusing on achieving a secure and favorable business environment. This problem, I am confident, calls for an integrated approach. And it cannot be solved if today’s most dangerous challenges are not neutralized. Above all, I am referring to terrorism and such related kinds of crime as drug trafficking and arms smuggling. Wherever these evils occur, economic and social progress is hampered, business activity is stopped and whole regions are plunged into chronic depression. It is our common task to provide adequate and timely response to such threats to lives of our citizens and to economic prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.
We appreciate the APEC’s activities to curb financial support of terrorism and secure trade and transportation lines and information systems. In our opinion, to make these efforts more effective it is necessary to enhance mechanisms of interaction within APEC and other international institutions, particularly the G-8 and SCO. Increasingly relevant, too, is a sustained public-private partnership in countering terrorism.
We attach great significance to the APEC Initiative on Inter-Cultural and Faith Dialogue. I wish to point out that Russia most actively participated in the elaboration of this initiative. We realize how important it is for the Asia-Pacific region with its unique cultural and ethnic diversity to develop a durable immunity against the ideology of intercivilizational splits, intolerance and nationalism. APEC’s intrinsic spirit of confidence, tolerance and partnership provides a favorable ground for the addressing of this task.
Question: What are other aspects of the APEC’s activities that you feel are important?
Answer: A number of issues in the APEC’s agenda are consonant with the priorities of Russia’s presidency in the G8 and – in a broader dimension – with Russia’s approaches to the key problems of world politics and economy.
First of all, it is about ensuring international energy security. We deem it important in this respect to establish mutually beneficial conditions for partnership based on mutual responsibility of producers and consumers of energy resources and a just distribution of risks among them, and exchange of assets in the energy sector. The G8 Plan of Action adopted at the summit in St. Petersburg envisages efforts to increase transparency, predictability and stability of the global energy markets, and improve the investment climate. Besides, it is important to promote energy efficiency and energy saving, diversify energy sources and routes of their transportation. Serious practical steps are needed as well to ensure energy infrastructure safety, reduction of energy poverty and solution of ecological problems.
All these issues are particularly topical in light of the growing need for creating a new and reliable energy configuration in the Asia-Pacific region. Russia is ready to directly participate in the implementation of this indeed global initiative. Moreover, Russia is offering and realizing a number of infrastructural projects. I am referring to the construction of oil and gas pipelines to supply carbohydrates to Asia Pacific from the eastern part of our country. The work in this direction on a bilateral level is already underway and will actively continue. We believe the APEC mechanisms can effectively facilitate the implementation of the task of ensuring uninterrupted energy supply to the region.
APEC is able as well to considerably increase its contribution to the enhancement of international capacity to monitor and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases. It is in our common interests to seek the establishment of an effective system of information sharing and working out coordinated decisions in cases when such problems arise. We also fully support the efforts to develop partnership within APEC in the area of early warning about emergency situations in the region and joint relief efforts.
In our view, there are good prospects, too, for cooperation in the areas of combating corruption, IPR protection, development of small and medium business, information and biotechnologies. Russia has experience of research and practical interaction in these and other fields, which we are sharing with our partners on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit.
I believe APEC should not lose sight of such direction of activity as cooperation in the field of education aimed at improving competitiveness of national educational programs and mutual recognition of qualifications. The more so since the above aspects are inseparable from the issues of human resources and innovations, which are already on the APEC’s agenda.
Question: What is your assessment of cooperation between Russia and
Answer: I would like to stress that development of relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is invariably among the priorities of Russia’s foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. This political line has stood the test of time and is not subject to short-term expediency considerations. And we are interested in further expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation in all spheres. I would like to specifically note that the good foundation for our effective partnership at global and regional levels is laid by the proximity of the two countries’ positions on major issues of international agenda.
The Russian-Vietnamese relations are based on the principles of the Declaration for Strategic Partnership, which marks its fifth anniversary this year. Over this time we have managed to significantly enrich our interaction while sustaining the high level of mutual respect and trust.
We consider that one of the most important tasks in our bilateral relations is to increase trade and economic, scientific and technological as well as investment cooperation. In 2005, trade turnover between Russia and Vietnam exceeded the record high of USD 1 billion. It has tripled, compared with the year 2000. At the same time, the reserves we have allow us to anticipate a more dynamic growth of bilateral trade in the nearest future.
I would also like to note effective development of cooperation in fuel and energy complex. Joint venture “Vietsovpetro” is acting well in oil production. Considering the success of this enterprise, we believe that it would be useful and mutually beneficial to maintain it even after the expiry of the present Agreement, of course, taking into account realities and opportunities. Undoubtedly, another interesting area of cooperation is joint exploration of hydrocarbon resources in other parts of Vietnam’s shelf.
Russian companies also take an active part in modernization and construction of energy sites in Vietnam, including “Uongbi” Thermal Station, “Sesan-3” and “Pleikrong” Hydroelectric Power Plants. They are ready to join the implementation of such large-scale Vietnamese power industry projects as the “Sonla” Hydroelectric Power Plant and the first nuclear power station.
There are also good prospects for bilateral cooperation in automobile assembly, first of all of the Russian truck brands with good reputation in your country, such as “Kamaz”, as well as in mineral deposits development, metallurgy, agriculture, transportation and communications, banking and finance. We are satisfied with strengthening of business contacts between the regions of our two countries and the increase in tourist exchanges. Traditionally important in our bilateral ties remains the sphere of military and technical cooperation aimed at contributing to the consolidation of Vietnam’s defense potential.
In general, the dynamics of the Russian-Vietnamese relations’ development allow us to optimistically look into the future. We are confident of that because of the high level of trust and mutual understanding between the leadership of the two countries, the growing economic potentials of the Russian Federation and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, their constructive commitment to mutually beneficial interaction. Therefore, I have no doubt that the coming visit of the Russian delegation to Vietnam this November will bring about evident practical results.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere feelings of respect for the Vietnamese people and to wish your country peace and prosperity.