MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is a key player in the processes taking place in Europe and Asia, said Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who will be attending the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Vientiane, Laos, in a few days.
In an article published by a number of Asian media outlets, Medvedev said Russia’s accession to ASEM in 2010 made it possible to “literally connect two influential centers for global politics and economics.”
“This forum is justly called unique. Established in 1996, it brings together countries from Europe, South Asia and the Pacific region. In essence, ASEM is a platform for finding answers in a rapidly changing world,” he said.
“On the one hand, our world is characterized by globalization and increasing global interdependence, and on the other by regionalization, and the increasing significance of the most rapidly developing regions,” the article says.
“Due to its geographical and cultural diversity, as well as its economic potential, Russia must inevitably play a key role in these processes,” Medvedev said.
Medvedev said sustainable global development requires a system of interconnected yet independent regional integration mechanisms. Noting that in Western Europe, the main such mechanism is the European Union, he said trade with the EU accounts for about 50 percent of Russia’s trade.
He said Russia is involved in cooperative efforts in many regional organizations, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Finally, together with its Belarusian and Kazakh partners, Russia itself is involved in a large integration project. In 2015 we will found the Eurasian Economic Union, which will be based on the existing Customs Union and Common Economic Space,” he said.
Medvedev said that in the coming decades, Russia faces the task of ensuring rapid modernization of its economy based on the harmonious development of its regions.
“We will give priority to Siberia and the Far East, first, because previously we did not have enough resources to ensure the full development of those parts of the country,” the premier said.
“Second, given that the global economy’s focus is shifting east, Russia simply must be more active in the Asia-Pacific region. That region is becoming the center of global economic growth, generating about 55 percent of global GDP and nearly half of global trade,” he said.
“Our country, which occupies about a third of the Eurasian continent, has huge and as of yet underdeveloped transport and transit opportunities,” Medvedev said.
He praised Russia’s transport network, in particular the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur railway lines, ports in all oceanic basins, as well as a network of air transport lines and airports providing shorter routes for transporting goods and corresponding to the key configuration of major freight traffic flows.
“Economic modernization and liberalization can result in a significant increase in freight traffic – by at least 15 percent – between Europe and Asia as well as between Europe, Asia and America,” he said. “The Trans-Siberian railway is capable of carrying up to 100 million tons per year, and this will be the shortest route.”
“Specialized freight trains travel from Nakhodka to Russia’s western borders in nine days, and can reach Western Europe in two weeks. That compares to the 35 days it takes to ship goods by sea from various Asian-Pacific ports to Hamburg or Antwerp,” the prime minister said in the article.
He also praised the development of the Northern Sea Route, saying it is “two times shorter than the current route from Europe to eastern Asia through the Indian Ocean.” Despite all the difficulties, he said, it costs thirty percent less to ship goods through the Arctic Ocean than through the Indian Ocean.
Medvedev also said air transport will play a new role. Using Russian airspace and Siberia’s current and future airports will benefit all parties, as it will be “cheaper to use medium-range aircraft and have them refuel in Russia.”
“This applies first and foremost to flights from Europe to East Asia,” he said.
“I am convinced that ASEM is a promising platform for discussing the most pressing problems of modern life, from economic sustainability to new technologies and climate change,” Medvedev said.
“The ASEM forum, which groups together intensively developing, ambitious and very diverse countries, is able to articulate the priorities not only of the Eurasian continent but of the entire world,” he said.