(Eagle News) — Russia, the Philippines, and the whole of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will stand to benefit from a closer relationship among these countries as ASEAN pushes its development agenda.
In a roundtable discussion of the New Era University ASEAN Studies Center, a Russian academician and political affairs expert, Dr. Ekaterina Koldunova said that even the closer relationship between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Russian President Vladimir Putin would mean more educational, business and cultural exchanges between the two countries.
“Generally, I think that this is a very positive moment for both Russia and the Philippines, and I think that something meaningful can come out of that. Because it seems that both for Russia and the Philippines, the political will means quite a lot,” said Dr Koldunova, the deputy dean of the School of Political Affairs at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
Dr. Koldunova said it is important to improve bilateral relations between the Philippines and Russia, as well as the multilateral relations of Russia with the rest of the ASEAN member states.
“We need to have more connections at more levels,” she said of Russian’s multilateral relations with ASEAN.
During the NEU ASEAN Center’s roundtable discussion entitled “Russia’s bilateral and multilateral relations with the Philippines and ASEAN,” Dr.Koldunova explained that ASEAN will be the place of intense economic development in the future.
“We have to learn more about each other,” she said.
Dr. Koldunova, who is also the senior expert at the ASEAN Center of MGIMO, said it would also be good to start with exchange of opinions between Russia and the Philippine experts for instance.
During the discussions, the Russian political and academic expert on ASEAN also stressed the importance of student exchanges between Russia and the Philippines.
She said it would be good for the current generation of Filipinos and Russians to know more about each other – their culture and history.
Dr. Koldunova pointed as an example the ASEAN-Russia Youth Summit which aimed to broaden the perspective of Russian and ASEAN youth about each other.
She said that in the course of the youth summit, various delegates became closer to each other and are made more aware of the importance of hearing various points of views from participant countries.
“Small things can work well in the final outcome,” she said.
But the historical meeting between Presidents Duterte and Putin mean a lot for Russia and the Philippines, particularly since the Philippines would be hosting next year’s ASEAN summit. ASEAN will also be celebrating its 50th year next year.
“Hopefully, this historical encounter between Putin and Duterte at the sidelines of the APEC summit this year in Peru means business initiative will follow. We know we cannot predict the future. But looking (with) more interest at each other, looking more intensively to each other also means quite a lot,” Dr. Koldunova said.
The Russian president has also invited Duterte to Russia, which the latter warmly welcomed.
“I think that the close personal relations is a very important prerequisite for better relations between Russia and the Philippines.
And hopefully President Duterte will proceed with this kind of talks needed in their meeting in Russia sometime in the future, or … probably in the meeting in ASEAN,” she said.
She emphasized that ASEAN is important to Russia, and that 2017 is a very important year not only for ASEAN, but for Russia as well.
Meanwhile, Dr. Koldunova said that there might be better communications between Russia and US under the leadership of President-elect Donald Trump whom the Russian academician described as “very straightforward.”
Former senator and defense Secretary Orlando Mercado noted during the roundtable discussion there is still this difficulty by some sectors of overcoming “cold war biases” regarding Russia.
But Dr. Koldunova suggests that to overcome this, there should be more “first-hand experience of each other” through educational exchanges and business missions.
She said that it would also help if there is more media coverage of what is happening in Russia and the Philippines.
Dr. Nilo Rosas, NEU President, presented a plaque of appreciation to Dr. Koldunova after the round table discussion, which he aptly corrected as more of a “rectangular table discussion.”
He noted that the Commission on Higher Education could help facilitate and systematize educational exchanges between Russia and the Philippines.
CHED commissioner Dr. Prospero De Vera III, who also served as the University of the Philippines Vice-President for Public Affairs, also attended the occasion. He also serves as one of the advisers of the NEU Asean Studies Center.
Dr. Julio Amador III, deputy director general of the Foreign Service Institute and also an adviser of the NEU Asean Studies Center, served as the moderator in the round-table discussion held at the NEU’s Professional Schools Building on Friday, November 25.
NEU is the only university in the country with an established ASEAN Studies Center.