From ASEAN Center Moscow With Love

Russia officially became a full dialogue partner of ASEAN at the 29th AMM in Jakarta, July 1996. Since then, an ASEAN-Russia relation is growing rapidly which is marked by a variety of cooperation in various sectors. The development of ASEAN-Russia relations is also visible from the holding of the first ASEAN- Russia Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2005. While the 2nd ASEAN-Russia Summit will be held in October in Ha Noi, Vietnam.

The development of ASEAN-Russia relations is interesting to learn considering that during the Cold War, ASEAN member countries split in the East-West axis. Indochina countries that are socialist countries namely Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are very close to Russia (before USSR). Meanwhile other ASEAN member countries have close ties with Western countries led by the United States.

Unlike in the cold war era, the ASEAN-Russia relations today are no longer limited to the relations between states, but have grown at the framework of ASEAN. Various co-operations within the ASEAN framework have been agreed between ASEAN and Russia.

One is the formation of the ASEAN Center at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO-University). This Center is led by Dr. Victor Sumsky, an expert on Southeast Asian / Oriental Studies at the MGIMO University and a senior researcher at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Moscow (IMEMO) and a leading Indonesianis in Russia.

Funding to carry out all activities come from the Russia-ASEAN Partnership Fund. The funds are used among others to pay for experts and conduct research activities. In addition it will use to create Internet portals that contain information about various things in the ASEAN-Russia relations. For the time being, this portal will be presented in Russian and English, but  in the future is planned to be shown also in the languages of all  ASEAN member states.

MGIMO University was chosen to demonstrate the importance of ASEAN in the eyes of Russia and the sincerity to improve relations ASEAN and Russia. This university is a leading university in Russia that focused on the study of international relations. Founded in 1944, the University is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Today many MGIMO University alumni occupy important positions in government and Russian academies of science including international research institutions; one of them is Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov inaugurated the ASEAN Center on June 15, 2010. In the inauguration ceremony, Minister Lavrov mentioned the importance of the establishment of the ASEAN Center in Moscow as an effort to fill gaps in the Russia-ASEAN bilateral relations. The Minister also said that the Center establishment cannot be separated from the need for an institution that can promote public awareness in Russia and Southeast Asian nations on the importance of Russia-ASEAN partnership. The Center formation is also important to build partnerships between academic and businessman, improve the humanitarian Russia-ASEAN relations, as well as accelerating  economic cooperation, trade and tourism.

Attending the ceremony was all the chairman and members of the delegation of the 7th ASEAN-Russia Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), which has just held a meeting on 14-15 June 2010, including Director General for ASEAN Cooperation, Indonesian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Djauhari Oratmangun, Ambassador to ASEAN member countries in Moscow , and the lecturers and some students MGIMO.

After inauguration, the guests are invited to see the ASEAN Center office on the 4th floor of new building MGIMO University. Center occupies a room size 8×4 meters. In this room are displayed a collection of books about ASEAN and Russia which were written by writers from ASEAN member countries and Russia. From Indonesia appeared a book by a Kompas journalist, Simon Saragih, “The rise of Russia, Putin and the Role of Ex-KGB”, and “Vodka, Love and Flowers” by Indonesian embassy staff in Moscow, Aji Surya. Also on display is crafting objects of the ASEAN member countries, such as batik and wayang of Indonesia.

Commenting on the establishment of the ASEAN Center, Director General for ASEAN Cooperation, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Djauhari Oratmangun, expected the Center can be a steppingstone for research cooperation and strengthen the ASEAN-Russia relations. While Indonesian Ambassador for Russia, Hamid Awaludin, who also attended the inauguration ceremony, commented that the formation of ASEAN Center is in the right time and in line with 60 years Indonesia-Russia bilateral relations. Hope that the Center can also be used to promote Indonesia in Russia.

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