Participants of the InteRussia internship programs from ASEAN member countries visited MGIMO University

On September 15, participants of the first fall internship program InteRussia – journalists from countries of Southeastern Asia – visited MGIMO University under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. The event dedicated to relations between Russian and ASEAN member countries was attended by prominent scholars, high-level diplomats, representatives of embassies of the countries of the region in Russia, and students studying member countries of the Association.

At the beginning of the meeting, Vice Rector for Research of MGIMO University Andrey Baykov addressed the guests.

“We are pleased to launch this program. The 55th anniversary of ASEAN, which we are celebrating this year, is happening during the era of serious international challenges and instability. It would be right to think about and discuss what Russia and Asia can specifically do together to support regional stability. We are happy to welcome you at our university!”

Ambassador of the Philippines to Russia Igor Bailen focused on the evolution of ASEAN during the past decades and its outcomes.

“55 years ago, when the organizations was created, it consisted of only five countries. Today ASEAN members include ten countries with the population of over 600 000 people – it is around 10% of the world's population. However, we were achieving success only when we kept overcoming challenges. At present, despite complications and even thanks to them, Russia and ASEAN continue cooperation in the areas that are really important."

Elizabeth Buensuceso, experienced and well-known Philippine diplomat in the ASEAN community, presented her new book “ASEAN Centrality: An Autoethnographic Account by a Philippine Diplomat".

“There are three dimensions, which include the concept of ”ASEAN centrality". First of all, it is the ability of the block's chairman to take leadership and set important tasks. Secondly, principles of diplomacy are important where ASEAN is playing a key role in order to advance its agenda while relying on its own frameworks, procedures, tone and language. Thirdly, the desire to raise the level of awareness about ASEAN in the rest of the world also plays a part".

According to Bilahari Kausikan, Chairman of the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore and former Ambassador of Singapore to Russia, the idea of “ASEAN centrality” has a different meaning for different countries and nations, but the practical benefit is exactly what brings countries of the region together within the given concept.

“We should be realistic – the strategic center of Asia has always been in the north-east of Asia, and not in the south. However, ASEAN plays a central role for its memebr countries because the Association is useful for resolution of common problems and helps to provide security. This being said, we should not forget that being useful does not mean irreplaceable. Today the world is facing much more serious destabilization trends than before, and this might require new solutions”.

Following the official part of the program, Director of the ASEAN Center of MGIMO University Yekaterina Koldunova together with her colleagues introduced the interns to activities of the organization and joint projects implemented with the countries of the region. After that, she answered question of the foreign guests. The interns also visited the ASEAN Center, the MGIMO Museum and the Museum of Rare Book at MGIMO during the tour included as part of the program.

The day after, Dean of the Faculty of International Journalism of MGIMO University Yaroslav Skvortzov met with the interns. The speaker discussed modern trends and tendencies in the media environment, which young professionals should know about.

Read more in Russian here.