EU supports ASEAN’s central role in forming regional structure in East Asia hinh anh 1ASEAN-EU Senior Officials Meetings opened in Thailand (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
The European Union has reiterated its support of ASEAN’s central role in the forming regional structure in East Asia.

At the ASEAN-EU Senior Officials Meetings (SOM) which took place in Bangkok, Thailand on July 5-6, the EU also affirmed its resolve to promote multilateralism and regional linkages, including intensive cooperation with ASEAN. The EU considers ASEAN an important and successful partner in the regional linkage process.

EU officials expressed the wish to early elevate the ASEAN-EU ties to a strategic partnership and to participate more deeply in ASEAN-led regional mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM ). They described the mechanisms as important frameworks for EU, ASEAN and partners to join hands to address regional challenges.

The EU also committed to accelerating the signing and negotiations of free trade agreements with ASEAN members, first of all those with Singapore and Vietnam, and then with Thailand and Indonesia in the coming time, thus creating the foundation for increasing bilateral trade and investment, and looking towards an FTA between the two blocs.

The ASEAN called for the early completion of ASEAN-EU plan of actions for 2018-2022 to create a framework to strengthen the comprehensive cooperation between the two sides.

ASEAN appreciated EU projects in trade facilitation, education and Mekong basin sustainable development, and proposed that EU devise more support schemes in the fields of small-, medium-sized and micro enterprises, regional connectivity, development gap reduction and hi-tech application.

The two sides discussed measures to strengthen their affiliation in many areas, particularly maritime and cyber security, anti-terrorism, border management and the control of human trafficking and illegal migration, in the context of worsening global challenges.

Several hot spots in the region and the world were also mentioned in the discussion. The EU affirmed the importance of maintaining security and safety of maritime and aviation in the East Sea, through which 40 percent of EU’s cargo volume has to go. It underlined that disputes should be solved by peaceful measures on the basis of respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the EU is ready to share its experience in the aspect.

To mark 40 years of the ASEAN-EU dialogue relationship, the two sides agreed to organize more cultural and educational exchanges to enhance mutual understanding.

The two sides acknowledged the progress in negotiations on the ASEAN-EU aviation transport agreement. At the upcoming ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting, they expected to adopt the ASEAN-EU plan of actions for 2018-2022 and issue a joint statement on the occasion of the ASEAN-EU ties.

Addressing the SOM, head of the Vietnamese delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung stressed Vietnam attaches importance to ASEAN-EU relations, and supports ASEAN-EU cooperation to promote multilateralism, regional linkages, trade liberalisation and respect for international law.

At the regional level, the two sides should work together and share experience in building people-oriented and people-centre communities and creating favourable conditions for the cooperation and development of each country and the region, Dung said.

He went on to say that toward this goal, ASEAN partners, including the EU, should back ASEAN’s central role and help ASEAN build a rule-based community, enhance the efficiency of regional mechanisms, and promote dialogue, cooperation and preventive diplomacy for conflict management in the region.

The deputy minister shared Vietnam’s view on the East Sea and appreciated the EU’s view on the issue, requesting that the EU continue to back efforts to solve disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and advocate the effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the early formation of a legally-binding Code of Conduct on the East Sea (COC).

The ASEAN-EU SOM took place on July 5 and 6 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The ASEAN, which groups 10 Southeast Asian nations, is now the third largest trade partner and a major investment market of the EU.-VNA