As a Eurasian nation, Russia believes that the implementation of its national interests is to a large extent determined by the solidity of its positions in the Asia Pacific region and, in particular, by the role it plays in ensuring security and stability there. The significance of this vector of Russia's diplomacy has been reflected in the new rendering of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation, as adopted on June 28, 2000.
Over the past year overall stability remained the dominant development factor in Asia Pacific despite persistent complexity of the situation there. Countries in the region carried on with the search for ways of ensuring long- term security both bilaterally, and on a multilateral basis. There have been no serious military threats to security on an inter-State level. The inclination towards a multi-polar world order, clearly shown lately by the majority of regional nations, has become a positive stabilizing tendency.
A good example of successful multilateral security interaction is provided by the 'Shanghai Cooperation Organization'. Member-countries of the Forum actively seek ways of further multiform interaction, developing a multilateral dialogue on issues of integrated security and ensuring regional peace and stability, and of establishing a just and democratic new international order .
Another substantial element in shaping a multi-layered system of integration links in Asia Pacific is the expanding interaction among East Asian states within the ASEAN plus Three dialogue mechanism. The strengthening trend towards a subregional multilateral dialogue in East Asia speaks for the adherence of its participants to multipolarity in Asia Pacific and coincides with Russia's perception of the future regional security system as a combination of multilateral ties and mechanisms. Saying this, we believe that creation of new structures should not result in new barriers between East Asian states and other countries and groupings, or the emergence of division lines in the region.
Countries in Asia Pacific have basically overcome the consequences of the financial and economic crisis of the late 90s. In the year 2000 the region at large registered the highest growth rates in the post-crisis period. Russia, whose GDP growth exceeded 7%, has also contributed to this end. However, in late 2000-early 200l, the Asia Pacific economy came under increased pressure of certain negative factors. These are related to the drop in economic activity in the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, and to instability on stock markets, which may become a problem for a number of regional countries whose exports are oriented at these states.
The region is experiencing an ever-growing contradictory influence of accelerating globalization, which makes security acquire a clearly indivisible nature. This is especially evident in the way Asia Pacific is affected by military and political issues related to maintaining strategic stability.
The implementation of us plans, involving dismantlement of the 1972 ABM Treaty, fielding an NMD system and creation of a TMD with limited participation in North East Asia, is capable of breaking down the military strategic balance established in the region and provoking a new spiral of the arms race. Nevertheless, Russia's non- acceptance of these projects does not imply a refusal to conduct a dialogue. We are ready to discuss the entire specter of issues of enhancing strategic stability with the United States and other countries concerned. Our action plan in this area, as outlined by the President of the Russian Federation in his Statement on November 13, 2000, fully retains its topicality. We advocate further radical reductions of strategic offensive weapons down to 1500 and, possibly, even a smaller number of nuclear warheads for both Russia and the US while preserving the ABM Treaty, consolidation of missile non-proliferation regime and creation of the Global Control System over missiles and missile technologies.
An important contribution to the enhancement of regional stability is made by the efforts of ASEAN member-states to establish a Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone in South East Asia (SEANWFZ). Russia is prepared to accede to the Protocol to the SEANWFZ Treaty as soon as all issues raised by nuclear powers are settled. In this context we positively assess the first direct consultations between representatives of ASEAN and the Nuclear Five that took place in Hanoi this May and intend to maintain the dialogue in this format.
Asia Pacific security is also threatened by such new challenges, aggravated by globalization, as international terrorism, separatism, ethnic and religious extremism, transnational crime, etc., the resolution of which requires coordinated region-wide approaches. At the same time, there still is a lot of 'explosive materials' of purely regional origin as well. A number of hotbeds of conflict and territorial disputes remain a serious source of tensions.
Situation on the Korean Peninsula retains special importance in context of Asia Pacific security. In this respect, the past year displayed an example of how goodwill and constructive approach can facilitate reduction of mutual suspicions and advance confidence building. Russia fully supports the intention of the DPRK and the ROK leaders to continue with and develop the dialogue initiated at last year's Pyongyang summit meeting.
Russia proceeds from an understanding that, above all, the -reconciliation process in Korea depends on the will and efforts of the Koreans themselves. We are for the resolution of the Korean issues through peaceful diplomatic means, for making the Korean Peninsula free from weapons of mass destruction, for the Peninsula's nuclear-free status, for missile non-proliferation, and for laying an economic foundation for stability through the implementation of mutually beneficial multilateral projects with the participation of North East Asian countries.
The continuing process of diplomatic recognition of the DPRK, its further emergence as a full-fledged subject on the world arena, and participation in the activities of Asia Pacific international organizations (the ARF in particular) -all these provide a certain guarantee against various surprises on the Peninsula. We would consider useful the continuation of North Korea's talks with the US and Japan, allowing to normalize bilateral relations and improve the general environment on the Peninsula.
Territorial issue in the South China Sea requires a careful and balanced approach. We see the way to its settlement in the political dialogue among the parties directly involved in the dispute, based on the provisions of the UN Charter and universally recognized principles and rules of international law. Russia positively assesses the elaboration of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. We believe the work on bringing together the ASEAN and Chinese drafts into a single document conducted within the special ASEAN-China Senior Officials Task Force to be an important step towards establishing mutual understanding between the participants in the dispute.
Russia's consistent stance on Taiwan remains unchanged. We recognize the existence of only one China, with the Government of the People's Republic of China being the sole lawful government representing the whole of China, including Taiwan. Russia does not share the ideas of Taiwan's independence, of creating 'one China and one Taiwan' or 'two Chinas', as well as of granting Taiwan representation in international organizations with exclusive sovereign state membership. We are confident that attempts at internationalizing the issue of the country's reunification are fraught with serious aggravation of the situation.
Instability in Indonesia -the largest nation in South East Asia - produces a negative impact on the overall situation in Asia Pacific, while the country's disintegration would have totally unpredictable consequences. We believe that regional states and Indonesia's ASEAN partners in particular are not interested in such a development and will facilitate the consolidation of political stability in Indonesia. As for Russia, we support Jakarta's efforts to oppose separatism and are prepared to continue extending diplomatic assistance to it on issues of preserving the country's territorial integrity.
In our estimation, the situation in East Timor, despite existing complications, is generally developing in a favorable direction. Preparations for the proclamation of an independent East Timorean state early in the year 2002 are successfully underway. An important stage along this route is the elections to the Constituent Assembly to be held this August. It is our understanding, that once East Timor achieves independence, the UNTAET's mandate will be considered fulfilled. In case further UN peacekeeping presence is still required, the new format and practical parameters of the UN role in East Timor are to be defined in accordance with actual needs and in agreement, with the future authorities of the country.
In the past year situation in a number of small island states in the South Pacific has complicated. Although, in themselves, these conflicts cannot substantially destabilize the situation in Asia Pacific, they nevertheless carry certain destructive potential. We support the efforts being taken by the regional community aimed at ensuring security and developing democratic institutions in the South Pacific, the initiative on giving priority to issues of resolving internal inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflicts.
The task of further consolidating the efforts of Asia Pacific states to ensure general regional stability remains topical. Of major importance in this context is the upholding of the efficiency of existing multilateral security dialogue structures, the key one being the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) as the leading mechanism for multilateral political interaction and constructive discussions on the entire range of issues related to strengthening peace and stability in the region.
We are satisfied that the ARF participants managed to set up a thorough exchange of opinions on a broad range of regional and international issues directly affecting the Asia Pacific situation. We note a substantial progress in the practical implementation of confidence-building measures agreed upon earlier and in drafting new ones. We are interested in the further intensification of the ARF's activities, primarily in terms of advancing to the second stage of its work -i.e., preventive diplomacy.
A major element of preventive diplomacy is the elaboration of comprehensive regional 'codes of conduct'. The latter may be based either on subregional documents already in existence, such as the 1976 Treaty on Amity and Cooperation in South East Asia, or on new initiatives. On our part, we reaffirm Russia's intention to join the Bali Treaty upon completion of coordinating the reservations regarding the Second Protocol to the Treaty expressed by other ASEAN dialogue partners.
In the meantime, together with ASEAN and in accordance with the recommendations of the ARF Seventh Session, we continue drafting the Declaration on Principles Guiding Mutual Relations in Asia Pacific (the Pacific Concord). Following the final coordination of the text of the document with our ASEAN partners we plan to table it for consideration by all ARF members.
On the whole, we believe that the region possesses good foundations for security cooperation. Asia Pacific countries show their rejection of the stake- on-force policy, and desire to enhance multilateral interaction on the basis of equality and balance of interests. Progress in this direction may develop step-by- step, moving from local subregional agreements to comprehensive regional ones, with the prospect of shaping an integrated security system embracing the entire Asia Pacific region and concordant with global stability requirements.