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Vladimir Putin addressed, via videoconference, the 16th East Asia Summit

The 2021 East Asia Summit was held under the chairmanship of Brunei Darussalam. The participants discussed the economic recovery of the Asia-Pacific Region and overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the end of the session, the participants approved a package of documents.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Majesty, colleagues,

I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to His Majesty Sultan of Brunei Darussalam for organising this event.

The East Asia Summits provide a good opportunity to discuss the situation in the Asia-Pacific Region, map out possible solutions to the most challenging problems and coordinate measures to maintain peace and stability and to strengthen mutually beneficial multilateral cooperation.

Our common region has indeed become one of the most dynamic global centres of political, business and investment activity. At the same time, it is facing serious challenges and threats in terms of security, and economic and social development, which have been augmented by the coronavirus during the past two years.

Therefore, it is quite logical that this summit is focusing on the struggle against the pandemic and efforts to overcome its consequences, as well as the implementation of the joint Statement on Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response, which was adopted at Russia’s initiative. In this context, we are certainly ready to exchange experience with interested countries on the practical aspects of combatting infectious diseases.

We could also expand the training programme for epidemiologists from ASEAN states at the Vladivostok Research Centre of Biosecurity in the Asia-Pacific region. In November and December, we will hold a new series of relevant advanced training courses on that platform, which representatives of the regional countries are welcome to attend.

I would like to note that Russia is seeking to make a real contribution to efforts aimed at ensuring free and non-discriminatory access to vaccines against COVID-19 for citizens of all states. We are in favour of developing a procedure involving reciprocal recognition of vaccination certificates, without which it is practically impossible to support the unrestricted movement of citizens of our countries across the region.

The use of Russian vaccines, primarily Sputnik V, has been approved by 70 countries, and they are supplied to more than 50. We are grateful to many partners in the Asia-Pacific Region for our joint work to localise the production of vaccines. We will continue to provide Russian test kits and reagents needed for diagnosing COVID-19, including free of charge.

Protecting mental health and rendering psychological support is of particular importance against the background of the pandemic and related tough restrictions, including the need to stay at home or go into self-isolation. For this reason, we certainly support the initiative of the Brunei chairmanship to approve a separate thematic statement following today’s meeting.

In general, we suggest that a regional mechanism for anti-pandemic collaboration be established under the aegis of the East Asia Summits, and we will shortly submit specific considerations on this score via the expert channels.

Colleagues,

We believe it is quite important for the states in this region to engage in the further strengthening of trade and economic ties, the more so that business activity is gradually recovering. Russia, for one, has managed to reach the pre-crisis level, with GDP growth amounting to 3.7 percent on August 2020.

During the first eight months of 2021, Russia’s trade with countries participating in the East Asia Summits grew by more than 34 percent to $162 billion. The states present here account for $18.5 billion in direct accumulated investment into the Russian economy, which is more than a twofold increase over five years.

We should support the incipient economic recovery by taking additional measures to stimulate the backbone industries of our economies and by seeking further coordination of efforts in this area.

We believe that tourism deserves special attention. It is one of the sectors that have been hardest hit by COVID-19. Meanwhile, for some countries that are taking part in this summit, tourism is the main provider of jobs: before the pandemic, it generated about 10 or more percent of their incomes.

In view of this, Russia has suggested adopting a joint statement in support of the tourist industry, following today’s discussion. There is also a specific initiative – to organise a meeting of the heads of relevant departments as early as next January, on the sidelines of the ASEAN Tourist Forum in Cambodia, and then to make such contacts regular.

No less urgent are the tasks of stepping up growth in other branches of the economy, including industry, power engineering and finances. With these goals in view, we would consider it useful to prepare and submit for approval by the leaders next year a roadmap of cooperation between the participants in East Asia Summits on the entire range of economic issues.

We also support a proposal on adopting a statement on sustainable recovery, based on the outcome of our summit. The priorities mentioned in it, such as efforts to counter climate change, encourage innovation in decarbonisation and develop technology and sectors with low emission levels, require smooth, concerted cooperation from all of us.

And, of course, we are interested in the closest cooperation on digitisation with the participants in the East Asia Summits. Digital technology is very helpful in resolving the comprehensive goal of strengthening coherence in the region, developing its infrastructure and trade, and creating transport-and-logistics corridors.

We hope for positive results from the project on innovation for the smart and sustainable cities of Russia and ASEAN. We are launching it as part of our partnership dialogue with the association. Our capital, Moscow, which is among the world’s top seven smart cities, will play a most active role in this project.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that along with the need to overcome all of the above pressing challenges in healthcare as well as on the social track and in the economy in general, it is important not to relax our joint efforts to maintain regional stability and security. This is all the more relevant given the fact that the number of challenges and threats in the Asia-Pacific region is not decreasing, but growing with old conflicts being exacerbated and new ones emerging.

In particular, we have repeatedly noted that with the termination of the INF Treaty, the region is facing the possibility of assault weapons being deployed in its vast territory, and accordingly, the prospect for a new round of the arms race.

Realising the danger of such a turn of events, Russia, as you are aware, has announced a unilateral moratorium on the deployment of intermediate and short-range missiles in the APR and other regions and called for a serious discussion on this subject with all stakeholders. Russia’s proposal remains in force and has even become more relevant.

To reiterate, Russia has consistently advocated forming a system of equal and indivisible security in the APR and strengthening the atmosphere of constructive cooperation based on international law, including respect for the sovereignty, equality and consideration of each other’s interests.

We believe this is the only way to cut short existing and emerging threats and to address pressing issues facing our region and the international community, as well as to effectively interact in the interests of sustainable development and improving people’s well-being.

Russia will continue to contribute to this joint work.

Thank you.

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