PM praises ASEAN-Russia ties at summit

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc delivered a speech at the Commemorative Summit marking the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia dialogue partnership in Sochi, Russia yesterday, affirming Vieät Nam’s stance on reinforcing the ASEAN-Russia ties in a practical and effective manner.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (second right) with others world leaders at the Commemorative Summit marking the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia dialogue partnership in Sochi, Russia. (Photo: VNA/VNS)

Reviewing major milestones in bilateral ties over the past 20 years, the PM said they upgraded their relations to the comprehensive and progressive partnership in 2005, regularly conducted exchanges at all levels and worked together in important global matters.

Looking back on the past 10 years, two-way trade rose five-fold from nearly US$4 billion in 2003 to more than $20 billion in 2015.

The number of Russian tourists to the ASEAN increased 20-fold from 140,000 in 2005 to nearly 2.5 million last year, while ASEAN arrivals to Russia also surged.

Prime Minister Phúc noted that the two sides are discussing ways to foster co-operation amid challenges to their security and development, adding that conflicts, terrorism and war are still ongoing in parts of the world while the global community is facing threats from food security, climate change, disease outbreaks and natural disasters.

This requires increasingly effective co-ordination both bilaterally and multilaterally, he said.

The Prime Minister proposed that the ASEAN and Russia focus on reinforcing security co-operation, especially in marine security and terrorism and transnational crime prevention. They should increase dialogues at all levels, including high-ranking dialogue, co-ordinate closely at ASEAN-led regional forums and security mechanisms, build co-operation mechanisms, and implement appropriate measures, he said.

Prime Minister Phúc went on to say that the two sides need to optimise their potential to foster a partnership in economics, trade and investment, energy, and tourism, along with the negotiation of a free trade agreement between Russia and the ASEAN.

They should also enhance cultural-social co-operation, particularly in education-training, science, technology, culture and people-to-people exchanges. The ASEAN and Russia should also bolster collaboration in responding to climate change, preventing natural disasters, and carrying out the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the agreement on climate change of the UN Climate Change Conference.

Phúc suggested Russia consider working with the ASEAN nations to hold a regular economic-trade expo in Russia.

With regard to the East Sea issue, the Vietnamese leader said sovereignty claims with no basis in international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS), have arisen. Notably, there have been concerns about unilateral construction to transform entities in the Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago into artificial islands, the installation of military or amphibious equipment on those entities and some others in the Hòang Sa (Paracel) archipelago.

The Prime Minister noted that Việt Nam and other ASEAN countries consider peace and security in the East Sea important to peace and security in the region. It is necessary to guarantee security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, not to use or threaten to use force and not to militarise the area.

Relevant parties must resolve disputes by peaceful measures, respect diplomatic and legal processes in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, fully comply with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN and China in 2002, and push for a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters, he added.

“Việt Nam shares the view that the countries directly involved have the responsibility to solve disputes through dialogues, negotiations and other peaceful measures. The international community has interests in and the responsibility of supporting and contributing to maintaining peace, security and creating favourable conditions for the peaceful settlement of differences and disputes in the East Sea,” Phúc said.

He emphasised that the current situation poses an urgent need that the relevant nations must exercise self-restraint, halt unilateral actions, and not conduct militarisation. He called for promoting dialogues and negotiations to resolve the disputes and build the COC, while respecting international diplomatic and legal processes and strengthening measures for building up trust and preventive diplomacy.

“We highly appreciate Russia’s role and contribution to peace, security and co-operation in Southeast Asia over the past years and wish Russia – as a power, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a strategic partner of ASEAN – will continue its support for maintaining peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation, and handling disputes in the East Sea on the basis of international law as well as regional agreements in line with the legitimate interests of countries in the region, as well as the international community,” Prime Minister Phúc said.

He expressed strong belief that ASEAN-Russia ties have bright prospects due to a more solid foundation and stronger driving forces.

The Vietnamese Government leader pledged that Việt Nam is ready to actively contribute to efforts to lift ASEAN-Russia relations to a higher level.

Sochi Declaration

During the summit, the ASEAN and Russian leaders discussed regional and global issues, reviewed their bilateral dialogue partnership over the past 20 years and set out measures to lift the relationship to a greater height.

Both sides spoke highly of positive achievements and the implementation of the ASEAN-Russia Joint Statement on Comprehensive and Progressive Partnership and the Comprehensive Action Plan for 2005-2015.

On security, Russia actively joined all forums and key regional processes initiated and guided by the ASEAN, playing an increasingly important role in regional peace, stability and development.

Economically, two-way trade increased five-fold over the past 10 years to more than US$20 billion. Russian arrivals to ASEAN countries rose 20-fold to nearly 2.5 million while the number of ASEAN tourists to Russia surged significantly.

Leaders agreed that there remains room for growth and both sides should deepen co-operative ties.

The meeting adopted the Sochi Declaration and took note of five important documents, including the ASEAN-Russia Comprehensive Plan of Actions for 2016-2020, a report on recommended policies of ASEAN-Russia Celebrities Group, the ASEAN-Russia Action Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation, a report on the implementation of the Working Programme on ASEAN-Russia trade and investment for 2016-2020, and the ASEAN-Russia Programme of Actions on Agriculture and Food Security Co-operation.

Discussing issues of regional and international interest, the leaders highlighted the importance of maintaining peace, security in Asia-Pacific and the role of the ASEAN and Russia in handling security and development challenges.

ASEAN leaders appreciated Russia’s role and hoped Russia will continue to particpate in ASEAN’s co-operation mechanisms and support ASEAN’s central role in the region.

Leaders of both sides agreed upon the importance of ensuring security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea for the region and world’s peace and development.

The leaders also underlined ASEAN’s principle stance that disputes should be solved by peaceful measures in line with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, without the use of or threat of force. They urged self-restraint and full and effective compliance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) signed by ASEAN and China in 2002, and the early achievement of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the waters.

In the framework of the summit, leaders of the ASEAN and Russia met representatives from business community of both sides, the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the ASEAN Secretariat.

Source: VNS

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