- Created on 13 August 2015
The annual conference of ASEAN foreign ministers is much more than just a meeting of the foreign policy chiefs of ten Southeast Asian countries. The event traditionally kicks off official dialogue between colleagues who speak on behalf of the Association’s Dialogue Partners (Australia, India, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, the United States, Japan and the European Union) and is followed by a meeting of 18 foreign ministers in the East Asia Summit format and a session of the ASEAN Regional Security Forum (27 participants). Bilateral contacts are also developed on the fringes of these multilateral events.
This diplomatic marathon took place on 4–6 August 2015 in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. According to the joint communiqué, the ten ministers are generally pleased with the progress achieved in building the ASEAN Community (its creation is expected to be announced at the end of 2015). In addition, they are satisfied with the positive dynamics of relations with the ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners and the signs that the organisation is gradually assuming the role of a global political and economic player. As for security issues, the main concerns are the widespread rise of terrorism and extremism, conflicts in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula, and the ongoing Iranian nuclear crisis. What is more worrying, however, is the impact of the disputes over the South China Sea Islands on the
As we have seen on numerous occasions in the past, those in favour of Russia’s «isolation» tried to use the landmark event attended by Russia to pursue their own ends. In late July 2015, when the United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution that would establish an international tribunal to try those responsible for the Malaysian Boeing disaster, everyone knew in advance that Moscow would veto the motion. It was assumed that the Southeast Asian countries would then extend «a warm welcome» to the Russian envoys. It was necessary, of course, to secure Malaysia’s backing of this demarche, which the sponsors of the resolution duly achieved. However, Malaysia (which, like the other ASEAN members, is well aware of the West’s desire to rush to a conclusion) did not make the choice easily. Commenting on his bilateral meeting with the Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anif Aman, Sergey Lavrov said: «I saw that he fully understood the Russian position, which is aimed at answering what is the key question for our Malaysian friends, and that is establishing the truth." (Link in Russian.)
The results of the
To be fair, it should be noted that the central role of the ASEAN in regional cooperation is not directly challenged even by the United States, which is working hard to establish itself as the leader in the
Fortunately, this is not a realistic scenario for the Association today, or in the foreseeable future: the ASEAN is split about equally between those who would prefer closer ties with China, those who look more to Washington, and those who are trying to find middle ground. The «third line» is more in keeping with the
Russian International Affairs Council