Question: On October 4-5, Brussels will host the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, in which Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov plans to take place. What is the history of the creation of this association? What issues are included in the agenda of the forum?
Answer: ASEM was founded in March 1996. Currently it consists of 45 members – the 27 member states of the European Union, the European Commission, the ten ASEAN nations, and six other Asian countries – China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia – and the ASEAN secretariat.
ASEM was formed as a mechanism for interregional multi-sector cooperation, within which the participating countries engage in collaborative activities in the field of politics and security and in the financial, economic and socio-cultural sphere. The agenda of the forum covers areas such as overcoming the effects of the global financial and economic crisis; combating international terrorism and trans-frontier organized crime; WMD nonproliferation; energy security; sustainable development; climate change; combating the spread of infectious diseases; human rights, etc.
As expected, the summit will officially formalize the accession of Russia, as well as Australia and New Zealand to this group.
In Brussels, Sergey Lavrov will also have a number of bilateral meetings with foreign participants of the summit.
Question: What does Russia's accession to this association mean?
Answer: Russia's joining the activities of this unique dialogue mechanism is a confirmation of the interest of the ASEM members in deepening the partnership with Russia, a Eurasian state, a “bridge” between Europe and Asia, whose participation in this forum is an objective fact. We are actively cooperating with the countries of both continents and developing dialogue partnerships with the EU and ASEAN.
We regard the upcoming accession of Russia to the ASEM as an important step in pursuing the line set by the President of the Russian Federation on strengthening the position of our country in the Asia-Pacific Region and building up Russian participation in multilateral regional associations.
Russia intends to make a real practical contribution to the work of ASEM for the development of multilateral regional cooperation. It primarily concerns the creation here of a transparent and equitable security and cooperation architecture, which would be based on collective principles, norms and principles of international law and due consideration for the legitimate interests of all states in the region. We believe that the move toward this goal should proceed through the development of multilateral network diplomacy and the creation of a partner network of organizations and forums.
This year, Russia has been given the opportunity to attend as a guest at ASEM events. Our representatives participated in two ASEM senior officials meetings, and in 12 conferences and workshops (on counter-terrorism and counter-piracy; sustainable development; overcoming the effects of the global financial and economic crisis; food security; tackling climate change; development of information and communication technologies; cultural interaction, and dialogue among civilizations).
State Duma Vice-Speaker Valery Yazev and Federation Council member Nikolai Frolov represented Russia at a conference on parliamentary partnership in Brussels on September 26-28. A business forum in Brussels on October 4 will be attended by VTB Bank vice-president Nikolai Samylichev (Sberbank and Absolut Bank are also invited).
Russia's joining in advance ASEM’s multidisciplinary activities and contacts with the forum participants have given us the opportunity to effectively and usefully prepare for entry into ASEM.
We support the agenda proposed by Belgian organizers, under the overarching theme of how to ensure greater prosperity and more dignity for all citizens. Sergey Lavrov will speak on the “Global Challenges” theme.
We look forward to a fruitful discussion on all important issues: overcoming the effects of the global financial and economic crisis; sustainable development; global and regional issues; human contacts; and streamlining ASEM activities.
Question: Are there plans to adopt any documents at the end of the event?
Answer: At the end of the event it is planned to adopt the ASEM 8 Chair's Statement and the Declaration of the ASEM 8 Summit on moving towards more effective global economic governance following the global economic crisis. The Russian side is involved in the elaboration of these documents.