Your Excellency E. Primakov, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Russian Federation,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firstt of all on behalf of the ASEAN colleagues, I would like to express our warm welcome to Your Excellency and other members of the Russian Delegation to the annual session of the Post Ministerial Conference between ASEAN and the Russian Federation.

I also warmly welcome the representatives of Laos and Myanmar for their participation for the first time in this Dialogue. The presence of the representatives of ASEAN’s newest members will definitely further enrich the contents of our discussion today.

The admission of Laos and Myanmar into ASEAN marks an important new step in the Associations evolution. The emergence of an ASEAN, bound together in political solidarity and dynamic in economic development will have an enormous impact on the preservation of peace and prosperity in Southeast Asia as well as in Asia-Pacific. Mw expansion of ASEAN will surely help strengthen the cooperation between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, including the Russian Federation.

1997 is a year of special significance to ASEAN as it is the, 30th Anniversary of its establishment, ASEAIN has now become a regional organization with dynamic development and positive contributions to peace, stability and cooperation for development in Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific and the World as a whole. Although born just three years ago at the initiative of ASEAN, ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) has been playing an active role as an unique security forum in Asia-pacific. The Southeast Asia Nuclear weapon Free zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the first of its kind in Asia, constitutes a great contribution to peace, and stability in Southeast Asia. The Treaty has come into effect since the end of March 1997. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) is a key legal document of ASEAN and ASEAN is now finalizing necessary legal formalities to enable countries outside the region to associate with the TAC.

In pursuing the goal of peace and cooperation, ASEAN’s cooperative relationship with its dialogue partner is of great importance. By elevating the Russian Federation to a full dialogue partner, ASEAN has highly appreciated the role and position played by the Russian Federation in Asia-Pacific. As a big country with three-fourths of its territory lying in Asia and a UNSC permanent member with increasing interest in Asia-Pacific, the Russian Federation can play a constructive role in preserving peace in Asia-Pacific. ASEAN welcomes and highly appreciates Russia’s participation from the very beginning of the ARF process, and sincerely hopes that Russia, as one of the nuclear powers, will soon sign the Protocol of the SEANWFZ Treaty, as well as accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation when it is open for the participation of countries outside the region.

I am pleased to inform Your Excellency that ASEAN has made Important progress in promoting greater economic integration in ASEAN through specific programs, namely the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), ASEAN Investment Area (AIA), ASEAN Industrial Cooperation Scheme (AICO)… Together with the expansion of the ASEAN market to cover all 10 countries in Southeast Asia of 500 million people and a combined GDP of US$ 600 billion, progress made in carrying out these programs will make ASEAN more attractive to investors and entrepreneurs from outside, thus creating greater opportunities for economic cooperation. ASEAN hopes that Russia will make tremendous efforts and take appropriate measures grasp these emerging opportunities, and tap every existing potential for promoting its trade and investment flow with ASEAN.

The ASEAN Mekong Basin Development Cooperation is one of major drive of ASEAN and has up to now made significant progress. The participation of outside countries and international organizations in this cooperation program is of paramount importance. ASEAN welcomes Russia’s active, participation in tins Program through concrete contributions.

Your Excellency,
Distinguished Delegates,

This is the second meeting since Russia became a full dialogue partner of ASEAN. We are very happy to see now developments in the ASEAN-Russia dialogue. The establishment of various dialogue mechanisms has been underway, among which the Inaugural Meeting of the ASEAN- Russia Joint Cooperation Committee (ARJCC) held on 5-6 June 1997 in Moscow should be mentioned in the first place. This Committee serves as an umbrella mechanism, overseeing economic, functional and development cooperation activities. The first Meeting of ARJCC has adopted the guiding principles and mechanisms as well as various areas of cooperation.

ASEAN welcomes and highly appreciates the Russian Government for its contribution of US$ 500,000 to set up the ASEAN-Russia Cooperation Fund. The established Fund will greatly facilitate, the implementation of concrete projects, significantly contributing to the promotion of ASEAN- Russia dialogue in the time to come. The task ahead for us is to adopt the Terms of Reference of the Joint Management Committee (JMC) and to bring the Fund into operation through the implementation of concrete projects.

Given great potentials and desires of the two sides, both ASEAN and Russia emphasize science and technology as one of the priority areas in the ASEAN-Russia dialogue. We are delighted to see that the First Meeting of the Working Group on Science and Technology (WGM has agreed on principles, mechanism and specific areas of cooperation in this important field. The WGST’s activities should be actively supported to bring about practical mutual benefits .

We are all aware that the trade and investment flow between the two sides, though growing during recent years, remains at a low level, incommensurate with the potentials and expectation of ours. Great efforts are required to promote the cooperation in this field. The Working Group an Trade and Economic (WGTE) and the ASEAN-Russia Business Council (ARBC) should be soon established and put into operation to step up the two way trade and investment.

The ASEAN Committee in Moscow (ACM), comprising all Ambassadors of ASEAN member countries in Moscow was established in October 1996 and has made positive contributions to strengthening the ASEAN-Russia dialogue. ASEAN highly appreciates the Russian Government and other special agencies for the support and cooperation extended to the Committee’s activities.

ASEAN has agreed in principle, to the Russia’s proposal to establish the mechanism of the ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) within the framework of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Relations. The actuals implementation will be reviewed later by ASEAN

Officials of the two sides also need to discuss and come up with appropriate mechanisms and measures for promoting the cooperation in the areas already identified such as tourism, environmental protection, human resource development, and people-to-people interaction.

Progress achieved so far marks a very significant start. Our task ahead is to seek appropriate measures in order to substantiate our dialogue so as to bring about practicial results. Small but practical steps will lay a foundation to attain greater and longer-term goals. Our dialogue today serves as a good opportunity for us to discuss measures which would promote the development of ASEAN-Russia dialogue . While focusing m specific results, we should look at the long-term direction for ASEAN-Russia relations as we are now heading toward the 21st century.

Your Excellency,
Distinguished Delegates,

Given the decision made at the 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM), Vietnam has the honour to continue her role as the ASEAN county coordinator for the ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations for the next three years. This is a great privilege on the one hand and a heavy responsibility for us on the other. I am firmly convinced out with our joint efforts ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations will be unceasingly strengthened and broadened in the interest of both sides.

Thank you.