PH leader to make a first in Russia

September 27, 2019

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will speak at the plenary session of the Valdai Forum during his official visit to Russia, a first for a Philippine president.

In a pre-departure briefing at Malacañang on Friday, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Amelita Aquino said the President was invited by the Valdai Discussion Club to participate in the forum.

“The Valdai Discussion Club is one of the most prominent think tanks and international discussion clubs in Russia and they have invited several guests from different countries,” Aquino said.

Aquino said that the leaders who were invited to speak at the forum were asked to talk on any subject related to the theme: “The World Order Seen From the East.”

Presidential Protocol Chief Robert Borje said that given the theme of the forum, the President is expected to “give his perspective or vision of the world order as it is emerging right now and how this relates to Philippine foreign policy.”

“We can surmise that he could include in his statement an explanation of his independent foreign policy,” Borje said.

“Since he will be talking to a specific group, particularly intellectuals, academicians, journalists from Russia, then he’s expected to also provide an overview of how important Philippines-Russia relations are at this point,” he added.

Borje, meanwhile, said that Valdai Discussion Club expressed excitement over the participation of Duterte in the forum.

“They’re very excited about the participation of the President, they stressed that it was the first time that a Philippine president has been invited to address the forum,” he said.

According to Aquino, Duterte will engage in a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the state of bilateral ties between the two countries and how both sides could further enhance and expand cooperation in various areas.

“They will also exchange views on regional and global developments and other issues,” she added.

Duterte’s upcoming visit to Russia would be his fourth meeting with Putin, who he earlier called his “favorite hero.”

The two leaders first met in November 2016 on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Peru; Duterte’s visit to Russia in May 2017; and during the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam in November 2017.

Aside from the Valdai forum, Duterte will also attend a Philippines-Russia Business Forum to promote the trade and investment opportunities between our two countries.

“It will also serve as a venue for networking between Russian and Filipino businessmen,” Aquino said.

The President, she added, will also have a speaking engagement at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, “one of the most prestigious and leading institutions in Russia in the area of diplomacy and international affairs.”