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On the Online Roundtable Discussion of the Network of ASEAN-Russia Think Tanks 19-20 November 2020

On November 19-20, the Second Meeting of the Network of ASEAN-Russia Think-Tanks (NARTT) was organized in online format by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta (CSIS) and supported by the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership Financial Fund. More than 50 experts, scholars and representatives of the ASEAN and Russian governmental bodies took part in the event.

The agenda of the Meeting included four sessions: on the post-pandemic regional architecture, disaster management cooperation, economic recovery and counter-terrorism. While exchanging views, experts discussed current trends and considered possibilities for deepening ASEAN-Russia cooperation.

H.E. Mr. Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro, new Director-General for ASEAN Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, addressed the event and welcomed the NARTT Meeting as highly relevant at this critical juncture for the region and the world. He underlined that NARTT can help ASEAN and Russia to stay ahead of the curve of emerging problems.

In his opening remarks H.E.Mr Alexander Ivanov, Russian Ambassador to ASEAN, underlined that in the period of strategic uncertainty in the Asia Pacific it is our common task to preserve and strengthen ASEAN-led regional architecture and not let the new closed schemes like “QUAD” and “QUAD plus” to reinstate the old “divide and rule” order in the region.

ASEAN experts highly appreciated participation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin in the 15th East Asia Summit on 14 November 2020 and his proposals on expanding cooperation between Russia and ASEAN, especially regarding the COVID-19 vaccines.

The scholars analyzed current trends in the regional development and underlined that Russia is not only an important player who contributes to the ASEAN-centered architecture but also a source of strategic stability in the region. Further deepening ASEAN-Russia strategic partnership will assist ASEAN in strengthening its central role and maintaining neutrality in the situation of growing competition and increasing pressure from the great powers.

It was stated that deepening ASEAN cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union and within the Greater Eurasian Partnership, which also includes Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), will create new opportunities for the economic recovery, stable growth and sustainable supply chains and development. A perspective to explore mutually beneficial engagement with the RCEP, which remains open by its nature, was also noted.

The participants agreed that ASEAN and Russia have good prospects to enhance cooperation in fighting FTFs, radicalization in prisons, terrorism financing and corruption as factors conducive to terrorism. While discussing possible experience exchange between ASEAN and the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the SCO it was also advised that the most interesting area for such cooperation could be harmonization of national legislations related to counterterrorism efforts.

As the outcome of the NARTT Meeting, CSIS and the ASEAN Centre at MGIMO (Russia) will prepare a set of expert recommendations to be presented to the ASEAN and Russian SOM Leaders for consideration.

Taking into account the 25th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia Dialogue Partnership in 2021, the participants agreed to hold the next NARTT Meeting in Russia next year.