Manila Bulletin

Embracing Russia’s pivot to Asia


(Remarks of former speaker Jose de Venecia, founding chairman of the Internatio­nal Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), co-chairman, Internatio­nal Associatio­n of Parliament­arians for Peace (IAPP); and special envoy of President Duterte to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (APEC) and for Intercultu­ral Dialogue at the Internatio­nal Inter-Party Forum, Moscow, Russia, October 22-23, 2020.)

Our generation is living through historic transforma­tions in global politics. Nowadays it is difficult even to recall how radical socialism — then enshrined in Moscow — had once inspired so much idealism, devotion, and self-sacrifice throughout the world.

And those of us who lived through World War II must remember the heroic Russian armies that, at unimaginab­le human cost, stopped the Nazi blitzkrieg short of Leningrad, and ultimately brought Stalin with Roosevelt and Churchill to Yalta in the Crimea as one of the victorious “Big Three.”

Even today, much more today, it is our fondest and strongest hope that Russia, the US, China, and the major powers in the European Union who were allies during World War II — United Kingdom and France

— and their former enemies, but today, their staunch allies — Japan, Germany, and Italy — to form a genuine global alliance in concert with and under United Nations (UN) aegis, to continuous­ly work, without deadline, on a long-term global agenda for peace and for humankind.

Impossible dream, maybe, but the optimists and the students of history believe as we do, that the work must go on and indeed the dream should never die.

Russia as an Asian power Russia has opened to the world community at an epochal time. The center of global gravity is moving away from the Atlantic — where it has been during these last 200 years — to the Pacific.

And it is doing so, not so much because the West is weakening, whether economical­ly or militarily, as because other power centers are growing in relative strength — in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

Experts say that by 2025, the Asia Pacific will be home to the largest economies, the most powerful militaries, and the most attractive cultures. And Russia — geo-politicall­y both a European and an Asian power — will be principal among them.

So it is in the interest of all our countries that Russia should reenter the internatio­nal community in the best possible light.

I n modern times, the new

Russia first appeared as an AsiaPacifi­c power in November, 2012, when Vladivosto­k — capital of the Russian Far East — staged the APEC forum of 21 Pacific Rim states.

Indeed today, Russia is a country of continenta­l dimensions — just as expansive as the Russian people are in their zest for life.

By itself, the Russian Far East (RFE) is nearly as large as the continenta­l United States and 60% of Russian geography is Asian.

Integratio­n of the resource-rich RFE into the Asia-Pacific economy will enable Russia to take a full part in the affairs of the world’s fastestgro­wing region.

President Vladimir Putin — having pulled the Russian state together — is working to restore his country to great-power status. Russia’s reclamatio­n of its Asia Pacific role will boost multilater­alism — particular­ly in managing conflict and in spurring regional growth.

Perhaps, President Putin may go on state visits to Asian countries as part of Russia’s re-entry into the Asia-Pacific concert of powers.

(To be continued)


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