In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents in Jakarta on the outcome of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-53) and related meetings, the Russian diplomat said Vietnam has successfully managed to perform its duties in the difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a real challenge for our Vietnamese friends and we always do our best to facilitate their chairmanship”, he stressed.

Russian Ambassador to ASEAN Alexander Ivanov (centre) (Photo: Twitter)

Regarding the ASEAN-Russia cooperation, he said it is developing well, and both sides are promoting the strategic partnership in all directions.

Some of the joint activities have been transformed into the format of videoconferences, including the ASEAN-Russia Special Ministerial Meeting on COVID-19 where ASEAN and Russia agreed to exchange information and experience as well as work together on vaccine and many other issues.

Besides, Russia started to cooperate with ASEAN on fighting infectious diseases long time before the COVID-19 outbreak. A number of ASEAN experts have been trained at the International Research Centre for the Study of Biosafety and Human Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific Region in Vladivostok, he added.

Regarding the most important outcomes of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Alexander Ivanov said the EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is the key step in preparation for the East Asia Summit where leaders of countries discuss topical issues for the Asia-Pacific region.

This year, the most pressing problem in the spotlight is the common fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and its socio-economic impact on the region. In this context, Russia has initiated the preparation of the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response, which will not only give impetus to joint efforts in tackling the current crisis, but also contribute to enhancing regional resilience to the future pandemics.

Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Thailand are co-sponsoring this document that was also welcomed by all EAS Foreign Ministers as timely and very important, he said.

Meanwhile, he said the discussion at the ARF was focused on key issues of regional stability and countering the growing number of new threats and challenges, and Russia co-sponsored the ARF Ministers Statement on Cooperation in the field of security and in the use of ICTs.

With regard to promoting security of ICTs, which is a high-profile agenda in the fast-developing world, Russia has also initiated an ARF Workshop on Countering the Use of ICTs for Criminal Purposes as well as the development of the ARF Terminology in the field of Security of and in the use of ICT. Both these initiatives were endorsed by the ARF Ministers on September 12.

Ambassador Ivanov said the main attention at the ASEAN-Russia meeting and the ARF was paid to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding Russia was the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine called “Sputnik-V”.

“I wish to assure you that it wasn’t a matter of only a few months. Between the start of development of the adenoviral vector technology and the creation of the vaccine 40 years have elapsed. The technology has been tested on dozens of thousands of people.”

With this experience, Russia has managed to expeditiously develop this target vaccine. Mass production of this vaccine will start soon, and everyone wishing to do so can be vaccinated, he emphasised.

“Today more than 50 nations including countries from the Asia Pacific region have expressed their interest in acquiring the vaccine. We are also thinking about launching the mass production of the vaccine in the number of regional states.”

Touching on the issues of post-pandemic economic recovery, he said Russia has become a co-sponsor of the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation to Promote Steady Growth of Regional Economy initiated by China.

Moscow has also supported the Indonesian proposal to convene the EAS Health Experts Meeting on COVID-19, and is preparing an ASEAN-Russia Seminar “Joint Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak” to be held on September 30, 2020, he revealed, adding the idea of the seminar has been very much welcomed by the ASEAN and Russian Economic Ministers.

Regarding the regional security matters, Russia is one of the main proponents of the EAS Discussions on the Regional Security Architecture. This dialogue is of a special importance today, when the competition of great powers in the region is growing, which jeopardizes the role of ASEAN and ASEAN Centrality. Having this in mind, it is very topical to continue the regular practice of holding such consultations among EAS Ambassadors in Jakarta with optional participation of similarly-ranked officials from capitals./.

CPV (Source: VNA)