Re: "Looking beyond AEC integration" (Opinion, July 25)
The fundamental questions asked by Cielito F Habito in the above article have to be answered also in the light of the Statement of the 20th EU-Asean Ministerial Meeting under the theme of “Towards Strategic Partnership for Peace, Stability and Prosperity”, held on 23 July in Brussels.
This comprehensive diplomatic document (34 large paragraphs) informs us that the ministers from the 28 EU member states and the 10 Asean countries underlined the importance of EU-Asean Dialogue Relations, which have matured through 37 years of partnership. They agreed inter alia to step up cooperation to enhance connectivity between the two regions, to enhance maritime security, safety cooperation and to work towards the upgrading of their partnership to a strategic one.
The ministers also noted the progress made on advancing negotiations, signature and entry into force of a number of partnership and cooperation agreements within the EU and some Asean countries, which contributed to the growing EU – Asean ties.
A significant political element in the Statement is the reiterated support of the EU for Asean centrality in the evolving regional architecture in East Asia, as well as the appreciation of Asean’s role as the driving force for, and its important contribution to, promoting dialogue and cooperation for peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.