|RUSSIA’S PARLIAMENT APPLIES ITS
EXPERIENCE IN EUROPE
TO ASIAN INTEGRATION
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Dmitry Kosyrev)
Although it is clear that integration in the Asia-Pacific region will not
be the same as in Europe, it is very interesting to watch the process
unfold. The next relevant event will be the 15th session of the Asia
Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), which will begin in Moscow on January
The APPF is a conference where deputies from 27 regional parliaments voice
their countries’ opinions. It was set up in 1993 at the initiative of
Japan’s parliament, and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone was
its first chairman. Russia joined the organization in 1993 and will host
its 15th session in accordance with a decision made at the previous
meeting in Indonesia. Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the upper house of
Russia’s parliament, will serve as chairman.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the forum in the
Bolshoi Theater, where the opening ceremony will be held.
The general public does not know much about such forums or other
parliamentary activities. Their work takes place behind closed doors and
is only a part, although an important one, of the state and social system.
Igor Rogachev, a member of the upper house of Russia’s parliament who
served as Russia’s ambassador to China for 10 years, is directly
involved in preparations for the session.
He said any issues may be discussed at the Moscow session, but specific
results should be expected on security and the fight against terrorism,
separatism and epidemics of infectious diseases, as well as on the slave
trade. Russia has also proposed discussing energy security, an issue that
was put on the agenda of the G8 summit in Russia last summer on the
The speakers’ ideas will be incorporated in reports to their heads of
state and subsequently in new laws that will be passed by members of
parliament. This is the APPF’s practical contribution to global
Russia, however, thinks the forum can do more, and wants to take the lead
in making it part of the regional political and economic system, which has
been growing more uniform.
It cannot so far be compared to the European Union because the
Asia-Pacific region is made up of widely different countries: the United
States and China, Japan and Russia, Canada and Thailand. But this
diversity is the main value of regional cooperation.
Rogachev said that Russia, 75% of whose territory is located in Asia while
the bulk of its population live in the European part of the country, has
accumulated considerable experience working in European integration
structures. Moscow wants to use its unique experience to avoid mistakes
and bring positive European integration experience to the Asia-Pacific
Europe has been accumulating experience in interparliamentary cooperation
for decades. It has various interparliamentary structures, embracing all
countries on the continent, groups of countries, and states that work
together on a bilateral basis. Rogachev said the upper house of Russia’s
parliament has more than 100 agreements with European parliaments. But the
Asia Pacific region has only begun setting up organizations like the APPF.
One proposal is to make the APPF a standing interparliamentary forum
incorporated in the largest regional organization, the Asia Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Like the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe (PACE), the APPF may eventually acquire a secretariat
Another proposal provides for setting up an Asian analogue of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Russia has had a bad experience with the above two European structures,
which the American and European majority have used to pressure and impose
their standards on other countries. But the Kremlin also knows ways of
avoiding problems institutionalized in the PACE and the OSCE.
Likewise, Russia can learn, and has been learning, from Asia’s
experience. In particular, Russia, China and Central Asian states modeled
the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the Association of South East
Asian Nations (ASEAN), notably its traditions and spirit of respect for
common interests and cooperation.
Rogachev said the Chinese supported these and other efforts by Russia. He
said the Kremlin regularly consulted and had attained an unprecedented
level of understanding with them, and a similar practice is developing in
When he attended the APPF session in Jakarta last year for the first time,
he saw the Russian and Chinese delegations interact every day, especially
when the forum started discussing the Middle East conflict. As a result,
the APPF adopted a declaration advocated by Moscow and Beijing, which said
that the effort to tackle regional problems should be guided by the UN
The Pacific integration structures are set up not to fight other countries
or force specific views on them, but to promote equitable cooperation
among all regional states. Not only Russia and China, but also nearly all
other parties to the integration process, are acting in this spirit, an
attitude that will ensure success.