User login

Presentation by CSCAP Russia Chairman Dr. Vyacheslav Nikonov at «Russia as Europacific Power: New Trends of Russian Regional Policy and Russia's Role in Asia" international conference (Moscow, 9 December 2010)

–The title of this conference – Russia as a Euro-Pacific power – is somewhat provocative, because that is not an established truth and it is not probably yet a reality, since Russia is a country still looking for its identity and for its geopolitical orientations, and there are many schools of thought. Some say that Russia is a European power. And actually President Medvedev presents Russia as one of the three pillars of the European civilization, the other two being the European Union and the United States.

But it is also clear that Russia is bigger than Europe. Another school of thought, which has long-standing tradition in Russia, is to regard it as Eurasian power, since really the majority of the population lives in Europe, but most of the territory is in Asia.

This Eurasian paradigm is really pushing Russia closer to the Muslim world, and sometimes Eurasians think that the Muslim world is the natural ally of Russia, ally in an anti-Western coalition.

There is a small school of thought, which thinks that Russia is just Asian, which is, of course, strongly rejected by Asians themselves, they do not perceive Russia as being Asian, and, of course, rejected by the absolute majority of Russians, even in the Far East.

What we are in the CSCAP think that probably the best positioning of Russia, geopolitical positioning of Russia in the 21st century would be as a Asia-Pacific power, somewhat the same as the United States of America. Russia in my mind should not choose between being an European country or a Pacific country, it should be both

During the economic crisis investment from western powers to the Russian Federation decreased by almost 20 per cent, but investment in Russia from Asia-Pacific, mostly from Asian part of Asia-Pacific, tripled during the last two years.

And Russia itself has also become a growing economic force in Asia-Pacific, though, of course, still not the major economic force, but with implementation of Sakhalin LNG projects, for example, Russia has already entered this market in Asia-Pacific region, which is also the fastest growing in terms of energy consumption.

Asia-Pacific is also important from the security viewpoint. There are many security challenges there, some very tense conflicts, including that on the Korean peninsula.

Asia-Pacific now is a place where the arms race continues, unlike Europe, which is now in a pacifist mood.

China is growing as one of the superpowers, and now the forecasters moved the time when China will surpass the United States as number one economy from the 2040s to the 2020s. And this is also a factor. Economic growth in Asia-Pacific is more intensive than, say, in Europe.

And actually one of the major reasons for deep decline of Russian economy during the recent crisis was very strong Russia's dependence on exports to the European Union, with is now 60% of trade, having a somewhat declining, relatively declining power as the major trade partner.

We need to solve several issues. One – developing the Russian Far East, the areas of Russia, which are facing the Pacific.

All the population of the Russian Federation east of lake Baikal is 7 million people and the neighbouring provinces of China – 280 million people.

Economically this region is not also that important, though resources there are definitely enormous.

There are certain programs of that development which are not very well implemented, but anyway this is part of the strategy. It includes some infrastructural development, it includes construction of pipelines, which is going on.

Number two is to include Russia in the economic development of Asia-Pacific, including attracting investment from Asia-Pacific to the Russian Federation,.

By far this cooperation is mostly in energy, but even now the role of Russia in overall energy balance of Asia-Pacific is negligible.

With the implementation of Sakhalin projects, projects with China,  pipeline going to the Pacific, because that will change.

But also what is important is go beyond this traditional Russian orientation on energy, which means cooperation in the sphere of high-tech. And Russia now is actively entering the market of, for example, nuclear power energy in Asia-Pacific. There is growing cooperation in space research. There are possible cooperation also of biotechnologies, in telecom and in other areas with the corporations of that region.

And the third aspect is, of course, broader Russian participation in all sorts of integrative, cooperative structures in that area. I think, we can speak about the end of certain era of discussions about the future architecture in Asia-Pacific where there is enormous alphabetic soup of different organisations.

Of course, APEC is an important institution and Russia will host the APEC Summit in Vladivostok in 2012. But I think what we see now is movement of cooperative ideas towards the format of enlarged East Asia Summits or format which can be also described as ASEAN Plus Eight, That was the format of the first Defence Ministers' Meeting in Hanoi.  And this combination actually can become the architecture for Asia-Pacific security, though it does not make everyone happy.

ARF is not extremely happy with this format as well as some countries, which are not part of the scheme, for example, our Mongolian friends

Another reason we convened this conference was the new development with Russia entering ASEM. Russia is not perceived as being to European by the Europeans and is not perceived as Asian by Asians. So for us there is always a challenge. But anyway, looking at Russia from that angle I think can be not just intellectually provocative, but also politically and economically useful.

And I would like now to give the floor to Mr. Alexey Borodavkin, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia for Asia-Pacific Affairs. Please, Mr. Borodavkin, the floor is yours.