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Press Release
The European Union and ASEAN agree to strengthen their bilateral cooperation

Date of release : 10-03-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : Ministerial Meeting EU-ASEAN

Jean Asselborn, Minister for Foreign Affairs and current President of the Council of the European Union, co-chaired a ministerial meeting on 10 March 2005 between the European Union and the member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

The purpose of the ministerial meeting was to strengthen and bring about progress in the cooperation between the two regions in the context of the "New Partnership with Southeast Asia" adopted by the European Union in July 2003.

During the meeting, the European Union and ASEAN expressed their satisfaction with the good progress in political and security cooperation and with the increase in trade and investments between the two regions since the last ministerial meeting held in January 2003 in Brussels.

The two organisations agreed to continue their cooperation in a number of areas of common interest: regional integration, renewable energy, education, the preservation of biological diversity and intellectual property standards and rights.

The ministers also discussed international aid to the countries of Southeast Asia affected by the tsunami of 26 December 2004. The European Union promised long-term support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts. Noting that it is up to the affected countries to play a leading role, Jean Asselborn felt that assistance programmes should be "coordinated and incorporated into the national reconstruction strategies."

Both parties also mentioned the follow up of the European Union’s strategy in Southeast Asia which, according to Jean Asselborn, "accentuates the role of international organisations in the strengthening of global governance and ASEAN’s contribution to a more orderly world." The European ministers were delighted with the development and strengthening of regional integration in Southeast Asia and stated that they were prepared to share their regional integration experience with the ASEAN countries.

The discussions on regional and international current events revolved mainly around the Middle East, the Pacific Rim and the global fight against terrorism.

Mentioning the situation in the Korean peninsula following North Korea’s announcement that it possessed nuclear weapons and was withdrawing from the Six-Party Talks,  Jean Asselborn underscored the positive role that ASEAN’s Regional Forum could play in this context. According to the President of the Council of the European Union, the Forum "represents all the key countries in the region and has the potential to evolve into a preventive diplomatic tool and one for conflict resolution."

As for the situation in Myanmar, the ministers emphasised the necessity of achieving the constructive participation of all of the country’s political and ethnic groups. The final statement of the ministerial meeting asks Myanmar to allow access to the special representatives of the United Nations secretary general and to continue effective cooperation with all of the UN agencies. Reiterating the need for quickly lifting all restrictions, Jean Asselborn indicated that the ministers had also appealed "for the liberation of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi."

In another development, the European Union and ASEAN reaffirmed their commitment to fight terrorism in accordance with international obligations, the United Nations Charter, and the general standards of  international law, and in particular while completely observing human rights and humanitarian law. In this context, the ministers underscored the necessity of addressing the deep causes of terrorism and of avoiding any identification of terrorism with a particular religion, ethnic group or nationality.

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This page was last modified on : 10-03-2005

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