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Statement of
HON. JOSE DE VENECIA
Former Speaker, Philippine House of Representatives;
Founding Chairman and Co-Chairman of Standing Committee, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP)
at the 22nd ICAPP Standing Committee Meeting
Vladivostok, Russia
May 30-June 1, 2014

Peace and the middle powers
in a multilateral world; Overriding conflicts in Asia

Excellencies, friends and colleagues—
On behalf of the more than 340 ruling, opposition, and independent political parties from Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and the Arab world, to Australia, New Zealand, and the small island nations of the Pacific, we in ICAPP, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, thank the United Russia Party, founded by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, for hosting this meeting of our ICAPP Standing Committee in this capital city of Russia's maritime provinces—Vladivostok.

We also thank H.E. Andrey Klimov, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs, the Council of Federation (Senate) and Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the United Russia Party, for making possible our meeting here in the Russian Far East; H.E. Konstantin Kosachev, our friend and former colleague in the ICAPP Standing Committee, who is now head of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation; and H.E. Vladimir Miklushevsky, Governor of Primorsky Territory.

RUSSIAN REFOCUS, RFE AS LARGE AS THE U.S.
Like the double-headed eagle on its historic coat of arms, the new Russia looks both West and East. And Moscow's eastward turn, "not pivot" but what I might call a "Russian refocus" on Asia proper, we in ICAPP welcome heartily.

Economically, the Russian Far East (RFE) and neighboring Siberia have immense natural wealth in hydrocarbons, minerals, power sources, farmlands, forest products, and fisheries in the North Pacific to offer serious joint-venture investors in the Asia-Pacific.

The Russian Far East by itself is as large as the continental United States.

Politically, Russia is, of course, a first-rank power—whose diplomatic weight should help stabilize the Asia-Pacific balance of power.

As Russia's window on the East, Vladivostok hosted the 24thAPEC Summit in 2012 and Russia and the United States held here the epochal SALT talks of 1974 that succeeded in limiting strategic weapons and helped reduce the threat to mankind.

KEEPING CONFLICTS WITHIN BOUNDS; CONGRATULATIONS TO PUTIN, OBAMA AND END TO CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA
At the outset, we in ICAPP must congratulate President Putin and the United Russia Party for the surprise Russian initiative which led to the removal of Syria's chemical weapons and rendered unnecessary a U.S. air attack, which would have been joined by the French, on these deadly weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama must also be congratulated for immediately accepting the Russian proposal and avoided a wider war.

CHINESE NAVY CONTRIBUTION
Almost as significant is China's low-profile participation in this same effort. Amid the heated exchanges between Washington and Beijing over the China Sea, we in ICAPP commend the Chinese Navy for helping the Americans dispose of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile—samples of which had killed some 1,400 civilians in a Damascus suburb in August 2013.

IRAN'S DENUCLEARIZATION TALKS MOVING FORWARD; NEW SIGNAL IN TEHRAN'S FOREIGN RELATIONS
Russia, the U.S., China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany have also been helping advance the Iran denuclearization talks in Geneva which apparently are moving forward. The new Iran President Hassan Rouhani, with his reputation for wisdom and moderation, has signalled a new beginning in Tehran's foreign relations.

I also think it a good sign that the great powers seem determined to keep their own conflicts within bounds.

This cooperation on the ground among the great power bodes well for the settlement of their strategic differences.

MUTUAL ACCOMMODATION AND RESPECT FOR CORE INTERESTS
Between Moscow and Washington on the Ukraine—and between Washington and Beijing on East Asia—mutual accommodation must be found, that gives both parties strategic reassurance and respect for their 'core interests.'

Our gathering here reflects the end of the bilateral power balance between the Western alliance and the Soviet bloc—and the growing multilateral character of our post-Cold War world.

Ironically, the hard peace between the Cold War principals—the United States and the Soviet Union—had enabled the smaller countries to enjoy well over a generation of political stability and economic growth.

RISE OF NEW POWERS IN VERY CONTINENT
As a result, we in ICAPP are seeing in our time the rise of a host of new powers.

In South America—there are Brazil, Mexico, Argentina;

In West Asia—Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia;

In South Asia—India and Pakistan;

In Central Asia, Kazakhstan;

In Southeast Asia—Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia;

In Northeast Asia, the Republic of Korea;

Even my country, the Philippines—with a hundred million people and a pole position in the business-process-outsourcing (BPO) industry with India—is no longer a cipher in the world.

And then there are Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

SHAPING THE STRUCTURE OF THE FUTURE WORLD
These 'middle powers' are joining the great powers—the United States, China, Russia, the European Union, Japan, and soon India—in shaping the structure of the future world.

And some of them have the population, land mass, strategic location and resource base to become great powers themselves.

Like all epochal transformations, this on-going transition of the global system from unilateralism—under American leadership—to a multilateral balance—with no clear leader—is a delicate and dangerous period.

AN ACTIVE ROLE FOR MIDDLE POWERS
But the multi-polar international system confers one advantage on the 'middle powers.' It gives them the diplomatic weight and flexibility denied them by both the unilateral—and bilateral—systems.

Multilateralism gives the middle powers an active role in creating—and maintaining—regional stability.

For second-tier states—such as those from which the bulk of ICAPP's membership comes—the highest imperative in this multilateral world is to preserve the strategic balance, and not to be drawn irrevocably into any single great power's sphere of influence.

PERILS OF MULTILATERAL SYSTEM
Excellencies, colleagues:

Will peace be easier—or harder—to organize in our new multilateral world?

Foreign-policy analysts agree that multilateral systems are more prone than bipolar systems to conflict.

Because in a multilateral system there is no clear leadership, regions tend to drift into crises.

And these crises can easily flare up—at a time of widespread economic and cultural change, such as what we have in our time.

In the end, peace in our multilateral world will depend on the willingness of the middle powers to do their part in preventing any great power from seeking hegemony over any region.

SEEKING COMMON GROUND
Of course decision-making in a multilateral world will be more difficult—much more difficult—to make than those made in a bilateral system.

The search for common ground— on which varying cultures, governing styles and political economies may stand together—can be protracted, tedious—even rancorous.

REVIVAL OF INTER-FAITH DIALOGUE
Thus, we in ICAPP urge the revival of the Global Interfaith Dialogue among Christians, Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and others to reduce politico-religious tensions and conflicts in various parts of the world, which we in ICAPP had the privilege to propose and which was endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly in 2004.

MOST PRACTICAL SOLUTION IN CHINA SEA CRISES
The raging conflict in the South China Sea, West Philippine Sea to the Filipinos, and East Sea to the Vietnamese, with conflicting sovereignty claims, may be settled, we believe, by temporarily shelving the issue of sovereignty, as earlier proposed by Deng Xiaoping, the paramount leader of China's peaceful rise; revive the Seismic Survey Agreement signed by China, the Philippines, and Vietnam in 2004; undertake joint oil/gas exploration and joint development with an equitable sharing of production and profits; designate "fishing corridors"; demilitarize the disputed islets through the phased withdrawal of armed garrisons; and covert the zone of conflict into a Zone of Peace, Friendship, Cooperation and Development.

This is perhaps the most realistic, most common-sensical solution to the problem of the Spratlys and Paracels, and which could be subsequently joined by Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, and could also be the solution to the problem between China and Japan in the Senkaku Straits or Diaoyu in the East China Sea.

Easier said than done but now is the time to consider the practical, principled, common-sensical win-win compromises necessary for the geo-political settlements in the China Sea.

SUCCESSFUL PEACE MAKING IN THE PHILIPPINES
We hail the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government under the reformist President Benigno Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), one of the breakthroughs in peacemaking in Asia, and extend our support to the early peace talks in Pakistan and in Afghanistan with various factions of the Taliban, the Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist groups in Myanmar, the Buddhist and Muslim groups in Southern Thailand, and other conflict areas in Asia, principally the most difficult Israeli-Palestinian talks under the 2-Country solution.

POPE'S INVITATION TO VATICAN; HOPE ALSO FOR SHIITES AND SUNNI TALKS
On a visit to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI has launched an initiative accepted by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to pray together at the Vatican and promote inter-faith dialogue as a helpful contribution to the most difficult conflict in our region.

COUP D ÉTAT: WE NEED COMPROMISE IN THAILAND
We express our deepest concern on the unfortunate turn of events in Thailand with the declaration of Martial Law and a Coup d'etat by the Royal Thai Army. Much earlier, our Co-Chairman and Secretary General Chung Eui-yong, Special Rapporteur Sen. Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and I wrote to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urgently appealing for the dispatch of a U.N. Envoy to initiate an urgent dialogue and help provide a possible solution to the Thai crisis under the aegis of the beloved and revered King, His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej. Unfortunately, like other efforts, we have been overtaken by events.

NEED FOR NEW SOLUTION IN THAILAND
Nonetheless, we hope our two members in the ICAPP Standing Committee, the Pheu Thai Party and the Democrat Party, representing the so-called "Red shirts" and "Yellow shirts" and the Martial Law Government under Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, might consider a unity government, with members from both sides and civil society, with a defense minister nominated by the military, and a transition period of 18 to 24 months or earlier under a neutral Prime Minister, until elections are called.

VERSUS EXTREMISM, TERRORISM, SEPARATISM
We in ICAPP have actively opposed religious extremism, terrorism, and separatism that have bedevilled a number of countries in our region and in Africa.

As we promoted before in our letters to Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Iran's leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it would be of great relief to our region and the world, if the two leaders of Islam, representing the Sunnis and Shiites of the Muslim world could meet in Mecca and bring about the beginnings of reconciliation and the end of violence in the lands of Islam.

In 2002, we in ICAPP initiated a meeting in Paris of Saudi Arabia's Rabitah, the Muslim World League and the Christian Democrats International (CDI), and followed by a meeting the following year in Moscow under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church to try to contribute to peace and reconciliation among Azerbaijan and Armenia on their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Today we urge a continuation of the peace-making efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and consideration of the successful experience in Christian-Muslim coalition building in the Philippines forged among Christian and Muslim groups in Mindanao.

PRAISE FOR ELECTIONS IN INDIA, AFGHANISTAN, UKRAINE
We congratulate the peoples of Afghanistan and India on their recent successful presidential elections, the Euro-wide European Parliament elections, and the elections in Ukraine. We hope the new Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko can organize an inclusive dialogue among the various political forces and begin to normalize relations with Russia. We view with anticipation the elections in Indonesia and the ICAPP General Assembly in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 18-21 September 2014, to be hosted by Sri Lanka Freedom Party under President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the United National Party.

We support the initiative of the incoming Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, in inviting the heads of nations which are neighbours of India, and we congratulate Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for accepting, which we hope could lead to better relations between India and Pakistan.

SUPPORT FOR CHINA'S, CENTRAL ASIA'S SILK ROUTE REVIVAL
We in ICAPP and the Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC) also heartily support President Xi Jinping's continuing initiative with Central Asia to revive the ancient Silk Route, which connects the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean through the deserts and mountains of Central Asia and Eurasia, today augmented by criss-crossing modern infrastructure, rail, highways, oil and gas pipe lines, new seaports in the Indian Ocean to support a maritime silk route, and the 11,000 kilometers rail line from Chongqing to Duisburg in Germany.

The revival of the Silk Road is a vision that reflects the shift in the centre of gravity, a global rebalancing whose time has come. It should help bind peoples and countries to a common future and rekindle the grandeur and glory of the old and new Asian civilization and serve as harbinger of growth in the 21st Century.

ASEAN COMMUNITY IN 2015
We in Southeast Asia realize this all too well, in the experience of ASEAN—the regional community our 10 separate states have been building over almost half a century and which will now be formalized by the ASEAN Community in 2015.

BUILDING REGIONAL COMMUNITY
Foreign policy 'realists' may disdain the fraternalism among nations preached by the United Nations; but small nations must subscribe even to what Condoleezza Rice dismisses as "the illusion of an international community."

We who believe community can transcend national borders are encouraged that the European Union seems to have banished the specter of war from the European Continent; and that regional groupings—in Latin America, in Africa, and in various regions of Asia—are plodding along toward their own kind of togetherness.

And even ICAPP—our own modest venture in fraternity among Asia's political parties—is already developing and expanding bonds of affection among our political leaders, officials in government, business groups, and civil society, while ICAPP builds up our newly-launched regional subsidiary women's and youth organizations.

FINDING COMMON GROUND
Global statesmen must waste no time making clear the modalities of the new power balance. There are grievous problems awaiting collective action that face all our countries in common.

Climate change is the outstanding example: Global warming is now—and every region already suffers it: in record heat, droughts, tornadoes, and deadly and powerful unseasonable storms, and ocean surges.

The recent devastation in Central Philippines, rendering 4-million homeless, was Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, considered the strongest typhoon in recorded human history.

Yet political and economic problems prevent global leaders from giving climate change the attention it deserves. And the longer we delay remedial action, the more serious the penalties global warming will impose on our planet.

ICAPP, IESCO IN UNITED FRONT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Realizing the urgency of fighting climate change and the magnitude of the threat it poses to our communities, countries, regions, and the world, we in ICAPP and our sister organization COPPPAL, representing the Latin American and Caribbean political parties, together with our civil society affiliate, the Centrist Asia Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI) and the International Ecological Safety Collaborative Organization (IESCO), represented here by its President-Director General Dr. Jiang Mingjun, have incorporated and established the Global Parties Climate and Ecological Alliance (GPCEA).

With the establishment of GPCEA, and its registration recently completed in New York City, our political parties under ICAPP and COPPPAL can now play an important role in fighting climate change and environmental degradation. We are expected to be joined by the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP) in a tripartite alliance.

GPCEA is now paving the way for our political parties and civil society organizations to form a worldwide united front against this gravest threat, indeed more serious than the nuclear threat, facing mankind and our planet. We are hoping to schedule the First Inaugural GPCEA Assembly in November or December and with the sad note that the two most polluted cities in the world, Beijing and New Delhi, are in our region.

We in ICAPP are delighted that the U.N. Green Climate Fund, expected to be funded at $100-billion a year, will now be operational, co-chaired by our ICAPP member the Liberal Party representative, Governor Joey Salceda, a political economist, current governor and former congressman.

Other critical global problems—among them mass poverty, hunger, and ill-health; political anarchy in failed states; mass kidnappings; massacres and systematic violations of human rights—these atrocities, too, still happen all too often.

A G-20 SUMMIT FOR A MULTILATERAL WORLD
This new world order will obviously need an institutional framework; and, felicitously, we have one at hand: the "Group of Twenty" (G-20) Summit first convened in Washington D.C. by President George W. Bush in September 2008, to deal with a global financial crisis.

You will recall that that first "G-20 Summit" superseded the G-20 group of finance ministers and central bank governors—plus the IMF and the World Bank—created at the height of the financial crisis in 1998-99.

With a dozen new participants in the multi-lateral power balance as members—the most prominent being the Russian Federation, China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia—the G-20 well reflects the balance of interests shaping the new world order.

The next G-20 Summit—it is now held yearly—is to take place in Brisbane this September, to be hosted by Australia.

It is our hope that it will give an opportunity for leaders of the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, India, ASEAN, Europe, Latin America, and Africa to get together and review the new world order before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, now that the G-8 has not met for sometime and in the wake of the entrance of the middle powers into the new world order.

BUILDING MUTUAL CONFIDENCE AND MUTUAL TRUST
Let me say that, in our time, there is much for our political leaders to do—and that we in ICAPP should welcome the multilateral world we're entering as the chance for our middle-rank powers to lead in humankind's search for common ground on which to build mutual confidence and generate mutual trust.

SOLVING THE HUGE INCOME GAPS
We the Asian political parties must also give the highest priority to solving the widening income gaps, ensure inclusive growth, for studies show income inequality is high among our peoples, with occasional short durations of high economic growth which is not sustainable. Still the focus must be on the economy.

ASIAN-RUSSIAN CONSORTIUM
Before I close, let me report that our long planned Asian-Latin American Business Council under ICAPP and COPPPAL has been further delayed by our heavy agenda this year. But as part of our vision of economic integration in our Asian region, taking advantage of our meeting here in Vladivostok, let us consider the establishment of an Asian-Russian Consortium here in this great city to build a Special Economic Zone including a Manufacturing, Agro-Industrial, Eco-Tourism, and Hydro-Carbons Park to contribute to development in the Russian Far East and integration into the heartland of East Asia.

In this hopeful spirit, I am pleased—and honoured—to welcome you all to Vladivostok and to declare this meeting of our Standing Committee open.

Thank you and good day.







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