Berlin (VNA) – The Berlin ASEAN Committee held the ASEAN Day in the German capital city on October 25, aiming to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between ASEAN countries and Germany.

The annual event saw the presence of Director General for Asia and the Pacific at the German Federal Foreign Office Ina Lepel, member of the German federal parliament and head of the Germany-ASEAN Parliamentary Friendship Group Renate Kuenast, and diplomats from ASEAN countries.

In his speech, Vietnamese Ambassador Doan Xuan Hung, head of the Berlin ASEAN Committee, highlighted the bloc’s achievements over the last five decades, which have turned ASEAN into a united, strong and comprehensively cohesive community that has greatly helped to maintain regional peace, stability, cooperation and development. It has been playing an increasing role in the region and the world, the diplomat affirmed.

ASEAN’s relations with the European Union (EU) and Germany have developed unceasingly, he noted, elaborating that the EU is the biggest investor and the second largest trade partner of ASEAN. Meanwhile, Germany ranks 10th among trade partners of ASEAN and has also substantially assisted the bloc to realise the sustainable development goals.

On this occasion, Hung asked Germany to actively join hands with the EU to soon sign and ratify the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and effectively implement the EU-Singapore FTA, thereby creating a new momentum for trade and investment links between the two regions.

For her part, Ina Lepel congratulated ASEAN countries on their enormous attainments. She added that in September, the EU Commission adopted the EU’s strategy for Europe-Asia connectivity, and it is trying to seek common points to connect this strategy with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

She stressed that while unilateralism is emerging, the world order based on rules, free trade and environmental protection – the foundation of global peace and security – is facing numerous challenges. In that context, the EU and ASEAN with many similarities should swiftly lift their ties to a strategic partnership.

Lepel also voiced her hope that more FTAs between the EU and ASEAN nations will be signed and enforced effectively in the future.

Meanwhile, Renate Kuenast said amid new challenges, the two groupings need new approaches on FTAs. They should associate these deals with the United Nations sustainable development goals, particularly climate change prevention.

She expressed her belief that the Germany-ASEAN Parliamentary Friendship Group will continue to be an effective bridge enhancing bilateral cooperation, especially in education, trade, environmental protection and human rights ensuring.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA