Центр АСЕАН при МГИМО МИД России


Эссе, посвященные 50-летию АСЕАН: Н.Пракапович

Эссе, посвященные 50-летию АСЕАН: Н.Пракапович


Предлагаем вашему вниманию статью Нины Пракапович (Институт стран Азии и Африки МГУ имени М.В.Ломоносова, e-mail: farkiada@mail.ru) «АСЕАН на рубеже пятидесятилетия: достижения, вызовы и новые возможности для сотрудничества с Россией», представленную на конкурс эссе, посвященному 50-летию АСЕАН. По условиям конкурса, она написана на английском языке. Эта работа признана одним из трех лучших эссе, подготовленных российскими участниками.

ASEAN at 50: Achievements, Challenges and New Opportunities for Cooperation with Russia

No sooner had the Russian Federation and ASEAN celebrated the 20th anniversary of the dialogue partnership in 2016, as one year later, another round date quietly approached - an half century since the signing of the ASEAN Declaration in Bangkok in 1967.

ASEAN is rightly considered to be one of the most successful regional organizations around which multi-format multilateral associations are concentrated, including the participation of leading world powers such as China, Russia and the United States.

The increased interest in this regional organization is due to its considerable potential. This is the largest market of 600 million consumers, as well as a manufacturing base that can easily compete with the world"s largest economies. Foreign investments are actively flowing into the region, a favorable strategic position at the crossroads of China, Japan and India also seems very attractive.

And of course, it seems logical to ask what Russia can claim, participating in the Russia-ASEAN dialogue partnership, what benefits it can derive from this cooperation and, more importantly, what it has to offer.

Obviously, it is difficult for Russia to compete with the six largest economies of the region (meaning China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand).

Russia is often blamed for the vagueness of the Russian initiative towards the ASEAN countries and the absence of any content of the Russian agenda in Southeast Asia, which contributes to its perception, primarily as a geopolitical project, and this impression is exacerbated by the information impact of Russia"s competitors. Of course, certain points related to the increasing the  interest in Southeast Asia and the knowledge of the opportunities of the region, as well as the development of trade and economic ties, require elaboration. But the question arises: is there really such a pressing need for our country to climb out of the way to consolidate and assert itself in the region in the shortest possible time, let alone to oust other more advanced economies. Maybe it is enough for Russia to be itself and to stick to its traditional forms of cooperation without interfering in internal affairs and invading spheres that are beyond its capabilities, but providing the feasible assistance where it really can do it?

Everyone knows that ASEAN is an open organization that values soft forms of negotiating communication and is distinguished by patience and respect for all the dialogue partners. ASEAN values trust in relations, but it still has to be won. A prudent, non-aggressive policy is in the spirit of the basic postulates of ASEAN. And, to the credit of the Russian foreign policy leadership, there is an understanding of this approach.

Although some experts believe that Russia has nothing to offer ASEAN, it already offers quite a lot and takes part wherever it can. Yes, so far, full-fledged mutual cooperation is limited only to the spheres of energy and military security, why Russia is periodically blamed for. But, as it seems, blamed for nothing. The ASEAN countries are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian partner. Trying to imitate China, the priority of relations with which the ASEAN countries declare, is useless. But it is certain that ASEAN is interested in the presence of Russia in the region to maintain the balance of power, and of course it also believes in the bright economic future of its Eurasian partner.

Russia is only at the beginning of its way to the creation of this bright future. In particular, now, the most ambitious form of involving ASEAN in the orbit of the Russian Eurasian initiative is the creation of a free trade zone of the EAEU - ASEAN. The free trading area (FTA) with Vietnam has already been signed and the FTA with Singapore is expected to be signed soon, which is seen as the first steps towards strengthening confidence in Russia. But we must understand that the implementation of this task as a whole can take decades. Russia"s more ambitious goal of becoming the main center of integration activity and economic attraction in Greater Eurasia is achievable only in the long term.

One can argue as much as possible on the topic of what Russia can offer to the ASEAN countries right now, and not find an answer to this question. However, as practice shows, life itself will tell. In this case, we have a very illustrative example of the countries of Southeast Asia, faced with a common terrorist threat. Russia does not need to jump higher than the head. It is enough to keep its hand on the pulse and be ready to use the chance to prove itself as a reliable and reasonable partner who, in the face of a common threat, is ready to come to the rescue and share his rich experience in confronting such threats. This approach is relevant not only in the field of security. Russia has nowhere to rush; ASEAN is not the last carriage of the departing train. The doors of this organization are always kindly opened to any mutually beneficial initiatives and equal partnership.