Meeting affirms ASEAN-Russia solidarity

Azlan Othman

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted a video conference with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss joint coronavirus response measures recently.

Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof attended the virtual meeting.

The participants discussed the coinciding approaches on the coordinating role of the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in countering the coronavirus pandemic and other diseases.

They reaffirmed commitment to the multilateral principles of pooling efforts in resolving the problems. The foreign ministers also emphasised the unacceptability of isolationism and unilateral sanctions that affect the supplies of medications, equipment and food. They supported the relevant appeal by the UN Secretary-General and agreed that any positive results in overcoming the pandemic must be accessible to all countries on an equal basis.

The foreign ministers noted the important, core role of the ASEAN-centric associations in the Asia-Pacific Region and unanimously supported Russia’s initiative on the adoption of measures to enhance the regional potential of fighting the epidemic.

The participants agreed to step up joint efforts on fighting the pandemic and its socio-economic consequences and decided to include the related Russian and ASEAN departments in these efforts and develop permanent channels of communication and the exchange of experience.

Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other ASEAN foreign ministers during the video conference

The ministers also praised Rospotrebnadzor’s initiative of the three-year programme of training courses for the 10-nation association. The first course took place in Vladivostok in December 2019.

The participants acknowledged the importance of involving Russian military medical workers in the mechanisms of the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting with Dialogue Partners, and the ASEAN Center of Military Medicine (ACMM) set up in Bangkok in 2017 with Russia’s assistance.

The participants also expressed interest in actively using the ASEAN-Russian Federation Dialogue Partnership Financial Fund for carrying out joint projects including on enhancing the potential of fighting COVID-19.

The expansion of the Eurasian integration processes plays a major role in effective post-coronavirus recovery, including strengthening ties with the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The ministers also reviewed specific measures on the Russia-ASEAN strategic partnership and new cooperation formats.

They emphasised the importance of speeding up the implementation of the existing agreements on launching dialogue on ICT security. The outlined steps will be recorded in the Russia-ASEAN Comprehensive Plan of Action for 2021-2025.

The ministers welcomed the adoption of the COVID-19 response resolution by the recent virtual 73rd session of the World Health Assembly on May 18-19 and recognised the important coordinating role of the WHO, as well as acknowledging the significance of implementing health measures under the International Health Regulations (2005) as a key global instrument for early warning and prevention, control and public health response to the international spread of infectious diseases and in addressing public health challenges.

The ASEAN and Russia urged the international community to put aside differences in their political agenda and to act collectively, in a spirit of responsibility, solidarity and cooperation, to support each other in this difficult time, the statement said.