Article by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Cambodia Anatoly Borovik in the Khmer Times
Russia, Cambodia and ASEAN – resilient partnership in the time of turbulence
The novel coronavirus pandemic has eclipsed the normal course of the year 2020, inflicting a wide range of social and economic challenges caused by the disease that every country has to respond. Nevertheless, these hardships did not shaken the endeavor of the Russian Federation to further advance its relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia, ASEAN community and jointly contribute to the improvement of the situation in the region and the world.
This year marked the importance of persistent cooperation between Russia and Cambodia at the bilateral level and within the international platforms, including the UN, the Russia-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership, ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asian Summit and Asia-Europe Meetings, etc. In 2020 both states celebrated the 25th anniversary of signing of the Joint Declaration on the Bases of Friendly Relations on 25 May 1995. That document has enriched the previous achievements of the Soviet-Cambodian interactions, laid down the new foundations for the dialogue in a wide range of areas and reaffirmed mutual trust existing between the two nations.
Nowadays, when 25 years passed after the signing of that document, it is evident that both states have done their best to continue successful cooperation in politics, trade and economy, education and culture, diversify areas of collaboration in the interests of their peoples, as well as preserving international peace, security and stability, fostering the atmosphere of mutual assistance among all states in the South East Asia and the Asia Pacific Region as a whole.
The provisions of the Joint Statement also envisaged the ways for interactions between the two countries in ASEAN framework. Back in 1995, when neither Cambodia was a part of ASEAN community, nor Russia was yet a full dialogue partner with the Association, they recognized the role of this integration institution in contributing to fostering peace, security, stability and prosperity of its members and partners.
With time passed forward, Russia has been strengthening its ties with ASEAN, regarding it and structures existing within its framework as a platform for discussing the urgent matters affecting all Asia Pacific, which enables to jointly search for solutions to the critical international issues.
In this perspective, May 2016 became a milestone for Russian-Cambodian and Russian-ASEAN relations. On that year Prime Minister of the Kingdom Hun Sen arrived to Russia for the first time since 1991 to have a meeting with his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev – just a year after the historic visit by the Russian Prime Minister to Phnom Penh. The next destination of the trip of the head of the Royal Government was Sochi, where he participated in the 20th Russia-ASEAN Summit, as well as had a fruitful conversation on its margins with President Vladimir Putin. An intensive dialogue on the highest level together with the Sochi Summit, which resulted in a declaration envisaging a rout to the Russia-ASEAN strategic partnership eventually reached in 2018, significantly contributed to strengthening the bilateral interactions with the Kingdom, as well as the Association.
Russia continues to enrich its dialogue relations with the Association in political, economic, cultural, security dimensions, as well as in health and fight against COVID-19 in line with principles of equality, mutual benefit and shared responsibility. In 2020 the combined efforts resulted in adoption of several relevant documents, including the Statement of the Special ASEAN-Russia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Coronavirus Disease 2019, East Asian Forum Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Collective Cooperation in Epidemic Prevention and Response. While taking the Chairmanship over the 13th ASEM summit, the Kingdom of Cambodia also significantly manifested its positive, anti-COVID approach in the Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Russia, EU, Germany and Cambodia as a Host of the 13th ASEM Summit. The document reaffirmed common readiness to fight the pandemic and exchange the experience in containing its spread and combating the disease.
Only by collective actions could the world overcome the pandemic. Rejection of cooperation, as well as attempts to use the disaster in one’s own selfish interests would lead to more sufferings of the people. Mutual assistance, scientific collaboration aiming at fighting the infection, developing medicines and vaccines are important for ensuring the restoration of the normal post-COVID life.
In this connection, speaking at the opening 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly President of Russia Mr. Vladimir Putin mentioned the efforts of the Russian Federation to contribute to the regional and global struggle against COVID-19. Having a rich and long experience in containing the infectious diseases, Russia has developed a range of testing systems and medicines, including several vaccines. The first registered was Sputnik V. With regard to its development, Russia is open to all its partners who are willing to cooperate to contribute to the health and safety of the human beings.
Amid the pandemic, it is necessary to remember about those countries that are in a severe economic situation and suffer from the resource shortages. Unilateral restrictions, lack of essentials, insufficient medical infrastructure and disregard to these needs would only prolong the pandemic and continue the outbreaks of the disease.
In this regard, Russia repeatedly stated initiative to impose a moratorium on restrictions on essentials, as well as on financial transactions for the procurement would ease the situation. Such “green corridors” free from trade wars and sanctions are in need to successively fight the pandemic, as well as contribute to the revitalizing the global growth and reducing unemployment.
Collective actions, combined experience of the leading inter-state organizations and integration associations, elaboration of an effective response to COVID-19 and ensuring of the economic revitalization would be in line with Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced concept of the Greater Eurasian Partnership. With the consolidated capacities of the Eurasian Economic Union, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN and its platforms, Belt and Road Initiative, as well as in perspective participation of the European Union, such a unifying formation would strengthen interregional security, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, consolidate connections around the continent.
Standing on the threshold of 2021, it is important to assess the outcomes of bilateral cooperation. In spite of the challenges faced this year, Russia’s dialogue both with Cambodia and ASEAN reaffirmed the willingness to continue the building of friendly relations and contribute mutual well-being. Russia is ready to further preserve its open and inclusive approach and intensify interactions with its partners.