Address by H.E.Mr.Gleb A.Ivashentsov
Ambassador of the Russian Federation
(Seoul, November, 2nd, 2007)
I would like to thank the Korean-Siberian center, PaiChai University for the invitation to address the 10th International Symposium on the development of Siberia and the Russian Far East.
It is an important subject. Important for us in Russia and for our foreign partners as well.
The reason is simple. Not only has Russia now made a full turn-around after years of industrial decline, it has become one of the world’s ten biggest economies. The country’s GNP has been increasing rapidly for five years straight. During the eight months in 2007 the growth was 7,7%. There is more to that: Russia has also become one of the world’s three largest gold and currency reserves holders with savings totaling over $425 billion.
The economic consolidation of Russia allows us today to take up the long-pending task of the integrated development of the Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East the area of which is 7 mln square km or 41 percent of the territory of Russia. I mean the more efficient integration of that vast area into Russia’s economy as well as into international markets, its development intended to create favorable business environment and decent conditions for life and work of the people. The needful guidelines have been given by President V.Putin and corresponding programs approved by the Government of Russia.
For instance, the Federal Special Programme for the development of the Far East and trans-Baikal areas in the period up to 2013 adopted by the Government of Russia on August 2nd, 2007 provides financial allocations equal to more than US$ 22 billion for development of infrastructure which includes reconstruction of 22 airports, 13 sea ports, bridges, highways and power plants. About US$ 4,0 billion of that sum will be allotted to the city of Vladivostok which will house the APEC summit of 2012.
It is a great task but its realization will bring an even greater output. We believe that potentially the uplift of the Russian Asia’s vast territories and utilization of its natural and other resources could bring results which may be comparable or even greater than those of the development of the American West. The process will inevitably exert major influence on all civilizational processes in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. It will serve as a locomotive not that for the Russian, but for the world economy.
In no other region are our internal and external interests so interconnected as in the Northeast Asia. For it is necessary to guarantee external security for the economic development of Siberia and the Far East. By Russia’s view such guarantees could be best provided not by forming certain new “holy alliances” based on ideological solidarity or pushing forward ultimatums which herd anyone into an impasse but by developing positive relations with her neighbours in the region based on the “security through partnership and mutual development” principle.
In that we have already achieved a lot. The year of Russia in China held in 2006 raised to a new stage the enhancement of our strategic partnership with China. The current 2007 which has become the Year of China in Russia will witness at least four summit meetings of the two countries’ leaders.
Russia’s dialogue with Japan is developing continuously. To the DPRK Russia is linked with the Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperation.
The partnership with the Republic of Korea which is an integral component of the general strategy of Russia at the Asia Pacific direction bears an independent value to my country. A poor developing country just forty years back the South Korea turned into an industrial and trade power of a world scale which is striving to establish itself as a strong foreign policy actor of its own right.
Similarity of the two countries’ approaches to major international issues presents a substantial basis for our interaction. Both our countries consistently support collective development of measures to confront modern threats and challenges for peaceful and democratic solution of global issues based on international law in the framework of he UN. They both oppose unilateral diktat, double standards and unjustified use of force.
Russia and the Republic of Korea have common interest in eliminating the war threat in the Northeast Asia. The main source of that threat is the more than half-century old military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula presently aggravated by the nuclear issue. My country has been actively participating in the Six-Party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula hoping that its settlement would become a kind of a starting point in turning the Northeast Asia into a region of peace, security and cooperation.
Russia is prepared to make her contribution to the inter-Korean normalization as well. We constantly stand in favour of building bridges between Seoul and Pyongyang. Russia has always been in favour of the moves by two Korean states aimed at peaceful unification through their own efforts. Therefore Moscow welcomed the Second Inter-Korean summit.
We believe that the growing process of the inter-Korean rapprochement will provide a new political impetus to the work on settlement of the nuclear issue of Korea as well as to the normalization of the DPRK’s relations with the key regional powers.
We hope that it will also facilitate the practical implementation of the large-scale tripartite partnership projects of Russia and North and South Korea, such as the international railway corridor “Europe-Korea” and the programs of creating in the Northeast Asia an integrated electric power grid as well as a net of pipelines connected with the regions of the Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East.
The Russian-Korean relationship is steadily approaching today the level of comprehensive and trustful partnership. There is practically no such sphere of human activities in which our two countries do not cooperate. They widely interact in the UN and other international forums. In addition to cooperation on land and sea, cooperation in space is now developing. In 2008 the first Korean cosmonaut trained in Russia will be launched into space by a Russian spaceship.
The Russian-Korean trade volume has been increasing steadily. In 2006 it approached the mark of USD 10 billion. This is surely much less than Korean trade with some other countries, but it is the growth rate not the numbers themselves that counts. The trade volume between our countries has grown 3,5 fold since 2000. We believe that realization of joint investment projects particularly in energy, as well as in petrochemical and automobile industries will lead to a much bigger growth in bilateral trade. It is in the interests of both Russia and the Republic of Korea that more such projects are started especially in the regions of Siberia and the Russian Far East.
The Russian-Korean Joint Action plan was adopted during President Putin’s working visit to the Republic of Korea in November 2005 which covered all the directions of bilateral political, economic, scientific, technological and cultural cooperation. The availability of such a plan facilitates the thorough monitoring of bilateral accords and joint projects.
A special attention in the Action plan is given to the dialogue on energy which is aimed at determining the guidelines of joint work in the energy sector and strengthening the regional cooperation in energy in the Northeast Asia.
The “Sakhalin Energy” company developing the natural gas deposits on Sakhalin and the “Kogas” concluded an agreement on supply to the ROK annually of 1,5 million tons of liquefied natural gas from Sakhalin for the period of 20 years starting from January 2008.
In addition to that Russia is planning to supply to the Republic of Korea from 2012-2013 about 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year by a pipeline. It is planned to sign in future a long-term contract for supplies of Russian gas to the ROK for the period of 30 years.
A Russian-Korean consortium with the participation of the leading Russian petroleum company, “Rosneft”, has been founded for gas and oil exploration on the Kamchatka continental shelf.
The recent visit of President V.A.Shtyrov of the Saha (Yakutia) Republic to the Republic of Korea outlined new opportunities for cooperation in extracting gas, oil, coal and uranium ore.
It is however unreasonable to view Russia only as a supplier of raw materials to the Korean market. Russia does export to Korea a good list of high-tech goods as well. For example about forty percent of civilian helicopters now in use in the Republic of Korea were made in Russia. Russian companies provide an important share of the ROK’s needs in fuel for nuclear power houses. There is a weighty number of commercial agreements under negotiation on joint science-research and experimental projects, including those for space exploration or aimed at production of high-tech products in the Republic of Korea under Russian licenses.
I hope my address has given you a brief information of the work we are undertaking for the development of Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East.
President V.Putin of Russia while speaking on the Russian-Korean relations once stressed that they are strong not just by the similarities of our views on international developments but by the number of initiatives which are jointly worked out by Russians and Koreans. I see in this seminar these very people working for such initiatives. I wish you all success.