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07-04-2016
Indonesia should promote a new power balance in Southeast Asia through the ASEAN-Russia Summit in May 2016
Author : Hendrajit, Executive Director of the Global Future Institute (GFI)

Of course, the willingness of President Jokowi to attend the ASEAN-Russia Summit in Sochi, Russia, in May 2016, is expected to be the momentum of increasing strategic cooperation between the countries in Southeast Asia that are members of the ASEAN and Russia. Moreover, the upcoming summit is dedicated to celebrate a 20-year-dialogue of partnership between ASEAN and Russia.


One of the schemes of economic cooperation between ASEAN and Russia is likely to be proposed by President Vladimir Putin that it is important to be considered by Indonesia and ASEAN in general is the Economic Partnership Eurasian Economic Union (UEE) by absorbing the spirit of cooperation between ASEAN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which has been built through the China-Russia strategic partnership since 2001.
 
The ASEAN-Russia Summit held in Sochi, which is located in a resort area on the Black Sea, is in particular also a valuable momentum for Indonesia, given its role and strategic position in the ASEAN countries since its inception in August 1967. Moreover, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin in Indonesia asserted that both Russia and Indonesia had a similar vision, under the leadership of  President Jokowi as delivered on the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference last April 2015. Especially his call to create a global system that is more just and democratic.
 
ASEAN remains a strategic power in Southeast Asia
 
ASEAN was initiated by the five countries in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand). The five signed the Bangkok Declaration as a sign of the inauguration of ASEAN with the aim to accelerate economic growth, promote peace and stability in the region, and build various cooperations for shared interest. And until now, ASEAN has remained emerging even its membership has increased to 10 countries.
 
ASEAN as an organization of cooperation among Southeast Asian countries, in 1971 even managed to agree on the Zone of Peace, Freedom, and Neutrality (ZOPFAN). Even, In 1976, the five ASEAN countries successfully signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) which serves as a guide for the ASEAN countries to coexist peacefully.
 
The strategic agreement of ASEAN is a true story of success of ASEAN in politics, so that through ZOPFAN and TAC these ASEAN countries were practically able to fortify themselves from any interference of superpowers which at that time was involved in the Cold War, while at the same time the ASEAN countries had a foundation and guide to build a harmonious mechanism of relationship between ASEAN members any any other mechanisms for resolving conflicts among fellow ASEAN members without involving a third party unless at the request of the ASEAN countries involved in the conflict.
 
The characteristics of ASEAN which has proven itself as an independent force of influence among the superpowers involved in the Cold War, has attracted the interest of countries in Southeast Asia, and eventually joined it such as Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Myanmar and Laos (1997), and Cambodia (1999).
 
The independence successfully demonstrated by ASEAN, although still overshadowed by the battle of influence between the US and the European Union versus Russia and China, could not be separated from the fact that the history of ASEAN is because the five countries initiating the establishment of ASEAN had experienced the same fate, ie once colonized by other countries, except Thailand.
 
Therefore, apart from various criticism and pessimism voiced byvarious circles and experts in international politics, in fact ASEAN has now managed to become the driving force in the effort to build a forum at the multilateral level outside ASEAN, as evidenced by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF ), ASEAN + 3, the East Asian Summit (although this forum is littered fully with hidden agendas of the United States and the European Union to divide the cohesiveness of ASEAN), as well as various initiatives of other foreign policies.
 
ASEAN was established with legal identity as an international organization having three main pillars for the foundation of activities that decomposes in three major communities namely, Political Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community.
 
Each pillar has its own blueprint agreed jointly at the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Strategic Framework and IAI Work Plan Phase II (2009-2015) and they formed a roadmap for the ASEAN Community 2009-2015.
 
ASEAN objectives
 
The Bangkok Declaration on August 8, 1967, is detailed as follows:

1.    Accelerating economic growth and socio-cultural progress in Southeast Asia.
2.    Promoting peace and regional stability.
3.    Promoting cooperation and mutual help for common interests in the fields of science and technology.
4.    Promoting cooperation in the fields of agriculture, industry, trade, transportation, and communication.
5.    Promoting joint research on issues in Southeast Asia.
6.    Maintaining closer cooperation with regional and international organizations.

 
The flashback of ASEAN-Russia partnership
 
The partnership dialogue between ASEAN and the Russian Federation started in 1991 when the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation attended the opening of the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Kuala Lumpur as an invitation from the government of Malaysia.
 
The Russian Federation became a full dialogue partner of ASEAN at the 29th AMM in July 1996 in Jakarta. As a follow up, the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) in Bali in May 1997 agreed to facilitate the socio-cultural cooperation between ASEAN and Russian Federation under the ASEAN-Russia Joint Cooperation Committee (ARJCC). In 2006, ASEAN and the Russian Federation held a special event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the dialogue partnership of ASEAN-Russian Federation.
 
The first ARJCC meeting was held in Moscow on 5-6 June 1997. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Grigory B. Karasin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and H.E. Mr. Nguyen Manh Hung, Director-General of ASEAN-Vietnam. The Russian Federation was represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Economic and Trade Cooperation, the Ministry of Research and Technology, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Railway Transport, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Emergency Situations, the Committee on Culture and Tourism, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.
 
While the ASEAN was represented by governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat.
 
The meeting discussed issues broadly to include partnership dialogue between ASEAN and the Russian Federation. The meeting also reviewed the progress of ASEAN-Russian Federation relations and noted any progress achieved. With a commitment between both parties to continue to increase the scope of their cooperation.
 
In addition, it took up issues on the mechanism of dialogue and agreed that the dialogue of the ASEAN-Russian Federation will be implemented through four institutions, namely the ASEAN-Russia Joint Cooperation Committee (ARJCC), ASEAN-Russia Joint Management Committee of the ASEAN-Russia Cooperation Fund, ASEAN -Russia Business Council (ARBC), and the ASEAN Committee in Moscow (ACM). ARJCC will act as the coordinator of the entire mechanism of the ASEAN-Russian Federation on the phase of implementation. In addition, it also will be established ASEAN-Russia Working Group on Science and Technology (ARWGST) which will be under the ARJCC.
 
ASEAN did welcome the establishment of the ASEAN-Russia Cooperation Fund and appreciate the creative initiative of the Russian Federation to involve private sectors in any purposeful cooperation. ASEAN-Russia Cooperation Fund will be used to finance projects of the ASEAN-Russian Federation in the six sectors agreed by ARJCC namely trade, investment, economic cooperation, science and technology, environmental safety, tourism, human resource development, and interaction between communities.
 
In the ASEAN-Russian Federation relations, there were some important documents, among others Agreement between Governments of the Member Countries of ASEAN and the Government of the Russian Federation on Economic and Development Cooperation (valid from August 11, 2006), Terms of Reference on ASEAN Russia Joint cooperation Committee (ARJCC) and the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership Financial Fund (DPFF) produced at the 5th ARJCC meeting in Moscow, the Russian Federation, on 2-3 November 2006. the increase in ASEAN-Russian Federation political cooperation was marked by the signing of the joint Declaration on the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Member States of the Association of South East Asian Nations on Partnership for Peace, Stability and Security in the Asia-Pacific Region, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in June 2003 at the meeting of the ASEAN PMC + 1 Session with Russia.
 
ASEAN and the Russian Federation maintained good political and security relations. A milestone in the ASEAN-Russian Federation relations is when the Russian Federation approved the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) on 29 November 2004. Russia's Accession to the TAC reflected a strong commitment to peace, stability, and contributed significantly to the TAC as an important ethical code that regulates interstate relations.
 
One of the ASEAN-Russian Federation cooperations is the process of implementation of the ASEAN-Russian Federation Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, signed at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference + 1 Session with Russia in 2004. ASEAN and the Russian Federation adopted the ASEAN-Russia Work Plan on countering Terrorism and Transnational Crime. ASEAN - Russia Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime was first held on July 3, 2009, in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.
 
At the 1st ASEAN-Russia Summit in December 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, ASEAN and the Russian Federation signed a Joint Declaration of the Heads of State / Government of the Member Countries of ASEAN and the Russian Federation on Progressive and Comprehensive Partnership.
 
This Joint Declaration promoted and strengthened any ASEAN-Russian Federation partnership dialogue in various fields including political and security cooperation as well as economy and development. ASEAN and the Russian Federation also adopted a Comprehensive Programme of Action 2005-2015 to realize the goals and objectives set out in the Joint Declaration. ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials' Meeting is held every year to, among other things, discuss and share views on political and security issues and common interests.
 
The first meeting of the ASEAN-Russia Working Group to discuss the 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit was held in Yangon, Myanmar, on November 26, 2009.
 
The meeting agreed that the 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit would be held in October 2010 in Ha Noi, Vietnam, coincided with the 17th ASEAN and Related Summits. The meeting also agreed to work on a Joint Declaration / Statement of the 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit, which will pave the way for improved relations to a higher level. On this stand, both ASEAN and the Russian Federation stepped up efforts in creating and formulating the contents of mutually beneficial cooperation.
 
Indonesia should build strategic alliance along with China and Russia as a balancing force in Southeast Asia
 
Indonesia should be observant and careful in analyzing and utilizing the strategic role of countries such as Russia and China intending to to leave a pattern of conservatism as exhibited by the developed countries, especially the members of G-7, which is essentially a strategic alliance between the United States and the European Union.
 
In terms of Russia's prospects in the future, the ASEAN - Russia coopertation is not only substantive, but also strategic. Moreover, Indonesia and Russia have a long history of relationship. Even in the era of SBY in 2004-2005, the two countries actually signed a Strategic Partnership. According to data collected by the research team of the Global Future Institute (GFI), Indonesia has already had about 14 strategic partnerships with several countries, including Russia. But until the end of the SBY government, there had been no follow-up.
 
Thus, the signing of an MoU between Indonesia and Russia in the field of energy for nuclear power plant on June 25, 2015, is no doubt a strategic step to reopen any strategic cooperation between the two countries bilaterally, or even open up the possibility of cooperation in a broader scope, such as in scheme of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
 
To that end, the Indonesia's active roles, including in building any close and solid cooperation between ASEAN and Russia, seem very important. In addition, there is one more factor that must be carefully taken into consideration by the Jokowi-JK administration. That since the Vladivostok Consensus during the Gorbachev's administration, Russia sought to rebuild awareness of the Russian tradition of Asia-Pacific.
 
The Jokowi-JK administration should realize that since Russia transformed its foreign policy when Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov became Russia's prime minister. It was asserted in the Primakov doctrine (Strategic Triangle) that the strategic alliance needed by Russia to be a stabilizing force in the global constellation, particularly to deal with the influence of America and Western Europe, it is necessary to establish the Moscow-Beijing-New Delhi axis (Russia, China and India). So this is what will, in the later development, become the basis for building cross-regional strategic partnership through which we are now familiar with the SCO and inspired by cooperation that was later expanded to BRICS.
 
If ASEAN, particularly on the initiative of Indonesia, has begun to explore the direction of strategic cooperation with Russia within the framework of the strategic alliance of China and Russia (SCO) and BRICS, the Indonesia's support and influence to decide that Russia used to host the Russia-ASEAN jubilee summit in 2016, will be the momentum towards more strategic and substantive cooperation between ASEAN and Russia.



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