1. We are availing ourselves of this opportunity to cordially congratulate the representatives of ASEAN with the forthcoming 30th Anniversary of the Association.

2. We are welcoming the process of ASEAN’s expansion, particularly the decision to adopt Laos and Myanmar as members of the Association.

3. Russia attaches great significance to its cooperation with ASEAN. We regard the Association as an authoritative international organization. Within the thirty-year period of its existence ASEAN has demonstrated its constructive peace-building potential based on the joint search for solutions of the most complicated regional issues. At the same time it is playing an important role in both the affairs of the Asia-Pacific Region and the world politics and economics. We consider that the Association is quite rightfully occupying an independent place in the evolving multi-polar world.

4. We appreciate the pivotal, cementing role of the Association in the activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum on security problems (ARF) which constitutes in ASPAR a unique itergovernmental instrument for the consideration of the most burning issues of providing stability and peace in the region. We are satisfied with the outcome of the 4th ARF Session.

Russia reiterates her readiness to contribute in a constructive manner to the interaction within the framework of ARF. We are proceeding from the fact that the views of Russia and the ASEAN member states on the problems of providing peace and security in ASPAR are coinciding.

5. The inaugural meetings of the ASEAN-Russia Joint Cooperation Committee (ARJCC) and the ASEAN-Russia Working Group on Science and Technology (ARWGST) were held in Moscow in the first decade of June, 1997. The ARJCC Meeting adopted the principles, areas and mechanisms of our dialogue partnership and considered in detail possible spheres and projects of cooperation. We consider the Meeting as a concrete practical implementation of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue. We are welcoming the business-like, constructive mood and the desire to interact in practical terms which overwhelmed the above Moscow meetings. It is our hope that the same spirit will always prevail in ASEAN-Russia Dialogue.

We agree that our cooperation should develop on a step-by-step basis starting with smaller steps. We are ready to submit for consideration of our ASEAN colleagues some proposals, particularly envisaging the organization of information exchanges between the interested Russian and ASEAN governmental and private structures, and the visits of experts from the ASEAN member countries to Russia within the programs of the Russian language and management in Russia studies.

6. Among the major steps in developing our ties is the project, now being worked on by the Ministry of Economics of Russia, implying the conduct of “The Days of the Russian Federation in the Southeast Asia” in Singapore next spring. We think. such undertakings are really needed to provide better knowledge of each other’s capabilities and to make compatible and coordinated the functioning of our national beurocratic instruments that would be involved in carrying out cooperation projects. This will then enable us to proceed to the implementation of larger-scale programs and plans of cooperation. Some of them were mentioned by me during our previous meeting in Jakarta. Among others, there are the projects that would provide for the use of the Russian technologies and equipment for carrying out aerospace zonding of the Earth’s surface, monitoring of volcanic and seismological activity, warning about typhoons and other emergency situations, as well as for ecological control purposes; Russia’s involvement into the development of the transportation infrastructure in the SEA, particularly in the area of cargo airlifting; our participation in the construction and exploitation of the Asia-Europe transcontinental railway line. The above and other Russian proposals, including those in the field of biotechnology, new materials, telecommunications, alternative sources of energy, were considered with interest by the ASEAN colleagues at the ARJCC and ARWGST meetings in Moscow, as well.

7. I would like to confirm the statement made by the Russian side at the ARJCC Meeting with regard to the establishment of the ASEAN-Russia Cooperation Fund. The sum which can be counted on for the purposes of realization of joint cooperation projects will have amounted by the end of this year to not less than US $500,000. And, naturally, this is not the fixed limit. The interest towards the interaction with ASEAN which, not without the encouragement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, has been raised in the Russian private sector gives ground for hopes that the fund will continue to expand. This interest, quite obviously, should find its realization for the mutual benefit of both sides, and here we rely on the assistance of our ASEAN colleagues and partners.

8. The nature of the existing ASEAN-Russia relations is characterized not only by the mutual desire to develop them but also by Russia’s possession of an appropriate technological and scientific basis, potentials for expanding trade exchanges with and greater abilities to use capital investments from the ASEAN member-countries. It confirms that there is a solid foundation for the further intensification of our cooperation in various fields. We hope for an earliest institutionalization of such dialogue mechanisms as the ASEAN-Russia Working Group on Trade and Economy and the ASEAN-Russia Business Council whose creation was favorably considered at the ARJCC Moscow Meeting.

9. We welcome ASEAN’s positive approach to the proposal of establishing within the framework of ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations of the mechanism of regular Senior Officials Meetings on regional and international issues. We are confident that an exchange of views on political problems, especially if taking into account the proximity of our positions on the majority of such problems, will make the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue even more substantive, useful and intensive and will serve both to the interests of Russia and the ASEAN member states and to the cause of the further consolidation of peace, security, confidence and cooperation in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region.