H.E. Mr. Igor Ivanov,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federations,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. On behalf of our ASEAN colleagues and in my own name, I would like, first of all, to extend my warm welcome to Your Excellency and other members of the Delegation of the Russian Federation to this annual PMC between ASEAN and the Russian Federation. My special welcome goes to Your Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, who attend this Meeting for the first time and with whom I have the honour to co-chair our Meeting. It is my hope that this Meeting would help ASEAN-Russian dialogue relationship to make new headway.

2. I wish to brief Your Excellency on the most important developments in ASEAN over the past year, the successful holding of the 6th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi last December and the formal admission of Cambodia into our Association, fulfilling the vision of an ASEAN comprising 10 Southeast Asian countries. The Hanoi Summit has sent a clear message of ASEAN’s strong political will and resolve to enhance her unity and cooperation so as to bring about early economic recovery, achieve sustained and equitable development and strive for peace and stability in the region. It can be said that the Hanoi Summit and the fulfillment of an ASEAN-10 constitute a key turning point in the evolution of ASEAN, creating necessary premises to bring ASEAN into the next century in solidarity, unity and closer cooperation, and with a befitting role.

3. The specific directions and measures identified in the various official Summit documents, especially the Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA), have clearly demonstrated ASEAN”s resolve to accelerate regional integration and to broaden her external cooperation, especially with Dialogue Partners. The Focus of ASEAN’s activities in the years to come should be on implemenfing the Hanoi Plan of Action. Successful implementation Of the Hanoi Plan of Action would speed up regional integration, enhance ASEAN’s unity and cooperation so as to overcome difficulties and continue to develop, and enhance her role in issues relating to regional peace and security. The implementation of the HPA would also create conditions and opportunities to further strengthen ASEAN’s cooperation with her Dialogue Partners. In this spirit, ASEAN welcomes the cooperation of the Russian Federation in all this.

4. At the just concluded PMC 10+10, we have given your a general survey of the substance and plan for the implementation of programmes and projects under the HPA. Last May, the Development Cooperation Forum was held at the ASEAN Secretariat with the participation of representatives from dialogue partners and international organisations. We hope that the Russian Federation would study carefully the HPA so as to identify programmes and projects of interest; and thence discuss with ASEAN concrete measures and forms. This would be an important direction for us to turn ASEAN-Russian dialogue relationship into an effective and meaningful one.

5. On the ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations,, we note that significant progress has been made since the establishment of full dialogue relations, especially the setting up of main dialogue mechanisms. The Russian have put forward cooperation proposals such as the setting up of an ASEAN Regional Center for Aerospace Monitoring and Information for remote sensing of the Earth’s surface and early warning of emergency situations, a joint venture in air cargo transport with the Volga-Dnieper Airlines…. However, due to difficulties met by the two sides, our dialogue relations are slow in developing and not commensurate with our potential and desire. In reality, no projects have been implemented and the ASEAN-Russian Cooperation has not gone into operation. This indicates an inertia, albeit a good beginning, in our dialogue relationship, which also affects the holding of the second ASEAN-Russian JCC.

6. Though both ASEAN and Russia are having difficulties, ASEAN has always attached importance to improving its dialogue relations with Russi for the sake of long-term objectives. We are of the view that for those relations to make real progress, the two sides should take practical points of views, especially in examining small and feasible projects and funding capability. We had better start with small and feasible projects aimed at, first of all, enhancing mutual understanding, to create an environment and conditions conducive to cooperation in many fields, and thence lay down the basis for our cooperation to gain in scale and scope. We are also of the view that concrete measures should be taken to improve the flow of information and mutual understanding, especially in connection with mechanism, operational procedures and workstyle of each side. This is an issue that requires our attention so that our dialogue relations can be fruitful and efficient. In this connection, we appreciate Russia’s proposal for an economic-trade, scientific and technological and humanitarian seminar. The ASEAN-Russian JCC should discuss this proposal so as to implement it.

7. ASEAN and Russia share the common interest in enhancing peace, stability and cooperation for development in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific. As a country with important voice and role in regional and international issues, Russia can make still more active contributions to regional peace, security and cooperation, especially in the ARF process. Both ASEAN and Russia enjoy good conditions to further enhance their dialogue relation and cooperation in political and security field, as there are no obstacles standing in their way. With the first Meeting in Moscow in June 1998 and the second Meeting scheduled for October 1999 in Hanoi, the ASEAN-Russian SOM has gone into operation and produced encouraging results. This dialogue and Russia’s participation in and active contribution to the ARF process have contributed to enhancing mutual understanding and trust.

8. ASEAN appreciates Russia’s strong support for the former’s efforts in ensuring peace and security in the region, including the support given to important diplomatic instruments such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and the 1992 ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea. ASEAN is now trying to complete as early as possible the necessary legal requirements so as to enable her dialogue partners to associate themselves with the TAC and SEANWFZ. We do hope that Russia would be the first country to accede to the two Treaties once the legal requirements are completed.

9. As a final note, on behalf of the Vietnamese Delegation, I wish to express our profound gratitude to H.E. Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation and other Russian colleagues for their good cooperation for the sake of better and mutually beneficial relations between the two sides. As the country co-ordinator of ASEAN-Russia dialogue relations, Vietnam will, together with other ASEAN colleagues, continue to look for appropriate measures and steps to further develop our cooperate relationship in the interest of peace, stability and development in the region and the world.

Thank your for attention.