- Created on 18 December 2012
A seminar on “ASEAN and Russia: Towards a Progressive and Comprehensive Partnership” was hosted by MGIMO on December 17. The event was jointly organized by the ASEAN Centre and the Indonesian Embassy. On the list of participants were three Ambassadors of ASEAN countries in Moscow, namely H.E. Alejandro B. Mosquera of the Philippines who is assuming the chairmanship in the ASEAN Moscow Committee; H.E. Djauhari Oratmangun of Indonesia on whose initiative the seminar was held; and H.E. Dato’ Zainol Abidin Omar of Malaysia, the country which since July 2012 has been the coordinator of ASEAN-Russia dialogue. Among the guests were diplomats from other ASEAN Embassies in Moscow, representatives of Russian Federal Ministries, businessmen and academics, as well as students from Southeast Asia who are studying in Russia.
Participants focused on major developments in ASEAN-Russia relations, pointed to the possibilities for more active cooperation between the partners and to the challenges currently facing them.
The speakers and the guests were greeted by Ambassador Alejandro Mosquera and Professor Andrei Silantiev, MGIMO Vice-Rector for International Cooperation and Public Relations. Among the presenters were H.E. Ngurah Swajaya, Ambassador / Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to ASEAN; Dr. Victor Sumsky, the ASEAN Centre Director; Mr. Victor Tarusin, Executive Director of the Russia-ASEAN Business Council; Dr. Timur Makhmutov, Deputy Program Director of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); and Dr. Ekaterina Koldunova, a MGIMO Professor and an ASEAN Centre expert.
H.E. Alexander Ivanov, until recently Russia’s Ambassador to Indonesia and now an Ambassador at Large dealing with Asia-Pacific affairs, gave extensive comments on the presentations.
Just like the presentations, the discussion that followed confirmed that Russian experts and their ASEAN colleagues understand each other quite well, think along similar lines and speak a common language. For instance, the notion of connectivity that has become a key element in East Asian regional integration discourse since the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity was adopted in 2010 can be quite appropriate in summarizing and justifying the priorities of Russia’s APEC Presidency, such as reliable transportation and logistics chains formation. Similar development priorities create new prospects for cooperation – for example, Russia’s participation in construction and modernization of railways in Southeast Asian countries, or sales of civilian aircrafts. With developments like these, trade and investment cooperation between Russia and ASEAN may acquire a new dimension.
In the political sphere, mutual interests are obvious too. Both Russia and ASEAN are seeking stability in the Asia-Pacific area, not the escalation of existing contradictions. Neither of the partners would like to witness more pronounced US-China differences which can have a negative impact on the regional security.
While the speakers acknowledged that the field for fruitful, mutually advantageous cooperation is obviously there, they emphasized the need to explore more opportunities and implement more projects. This is what the ASEAN Centre in MGIMO is trying to promote in its own way, said Dr. Ekaterina Koldunova as she gave a review of the Centre’s activities in the year 2012.
Among the Centre’s recent projects is a detailed piece of research on the strategy of Russia-ASEAN trade and investment cooperation. The work was carried out by a group of experts under Dr. Victor Sumsky. The fact that this report was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development is another indication of the Russian Government’s interest in a more vibrant relationship with the Association and its members.