Fifth part of H.E. Ambassador Kirill Barsky’s interview to Matichon Weekly Magazine

What are Thailand and ASEAN in Russia’s foreign policy?

Thailand is the oldest partner of our country in the South-East Asia. As you are all well aware last year we celebrated the 120th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Russia and Thailand. It is a remarkable thing that our two countries have been friends for such a long time.

In recent years, the bilateral political dialogue has gained new momentum. Meetings between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in May 2016 in Sochi on the sidelines of the Russia-ASEAN Summit and in September 2017 in Xiamen during the BRICS Summit became strong evidence of that. Since 2015 an exchange of visits of the heads of governments of the two countries has become regular business.

Trade and economic cooperation is expanding. Today Thailand is one of the major trade partners of Russia in South-East Asia. We are taking joint steps to upscale the trade volume to USD 10 billion by 2020. We give priority to development of cooperation in such high-tech spheres as civil aviation, energy, peaceful use of outer space, transport and telecommunications. The total Thai investment to the Russian economy has exceeded USD 1.8 billion while Russian investment in Thailand is more than USD 500 million. 

Cultural ties and educational exchanges between our countries are on the rise. Thailand has secured its position of one of the leading travel destinations for Russian citizens. Last year alone, 1.3 million Russian tourists visited the Kingdom in 2017 (23.5% more than in 2016). 

Russian-Thai relations have been tested by time and achieved a high level of trust and mutual understanding. We are facing large-scale tasks related to ensuring consistent promotion of our bilateral ties in the interest of well-being and prosperity of the peoples of our countries, strengthening peace and stability in the South-East Asia and the Asia Pacific in general. 

In 2016 Russia and ASEAN marked the 20th anniversary of their dialogue partnership with ASEAN-Russia Commemorative Summit on May 19-20 in Sochi. At the meeting all leaders decided to build a strategic partnership over the long term. 

Russia is the only dialogue partner of ASEAN which promotes equitable cooperation with the ten countries which contrasts with donor-recipient relations model habitual for relations between ASEAN and other dialogue partners. We are working closely on combating terrorism, transnational crimes and drug trafficking, information security, disaster management, promoting digital economy etc. 

We attribute high priority to developing a reliable and open security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region. Our joint work at the East Asian summits, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the defense ministers’ meeting and other fora under the ASEAN umbrella pursues this objective.

Russia and ASEAN share a desire to play an active part in trade liberalization and regional economic integration. The Eurasian Economic Union signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam in 2015, and now we are studying the possibility of concluding similar agreements with other ASEAN countries. 

I have no doubt that ASEAN’s significance for Russia will be growing year by year.

 

https://www.matichonweekly.com/column/article_106124

 

 

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