Fri, 11 Mar 2005


EU has become important market for ASEAN products

Hassan Wirajuda Jakarta

On behalf of my ASEAN Colleagues, let me begin by extending our warmest welcome to the European Union Delegation to the 15th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting.

This is the first time that our meeting is convened in the format of an open-ended troika. We agreed to have this format during our last meeting in Brussels, because we wanted to ensure a sufficient level of participation in our meetings. Today, the troika from both sides are present and other member countries from both sides are well represented. This reflects greater interests to our partnership. And we highly appreciate it.

Let me also take this opportunity to express our appreciation and thanks to all the European Union member states for quickly responding to the unprecedented catastrophe due to an earthquake and tsunami that devastated whole populations in our part of the world last Dec. 26. As the most severely affected nation in that tragedy, we in Indonesia are particularly grateful for the outpouring of help and solicitude that we received from all over the world, including our friends from the European Union.

During my special mission to four countries of the European Union in early January, I particularly cherished the embracing arms and goodwill extended by both the governments and the peoples of those countries. Most importantly, it didn't stop at sympathy, solidarity and goodwill; as they have quickly begun to translate into concrete assistance and cooperation. And we highly appreciate it.

For more than 30 years, the European Union has been a valuable partner and has played an important role in many of ASEAN's undertakings. It is therefore our wish in ASEAN not only that this dialogue be sustained in a spirit of openness and partnership, but also that it expand and deepen in all fields of cooperation.

Since we met two years ago in Brussels in 2003, many developments have taken place in both the EU and ASEAN.

On the ASEAN side, we have committed ourselves to a process of integration leading to the realization of an open, dynamic and resilient ASEAN Community by 2020 as envisioned in the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II. In pursuing this common vision, we have formulated three Plans of Action respectively for the ASEAN Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Moreover, we have also adopted the Vientiane Action Programme; the roadmap that would unify and cross-link our strategies toward the achievement of ASEAN Vision 2020.

On the other hand, the EU attained a historic watershed with the entry of ten new members and the signing of a New Constitution that consolidates the many treaties and agreements on which the EU is based. It has also bolstered its relations with ASEAN by adopting the New Communication: A New Partnership with Southeast Asia.

Considering these major developments, I am of the firm belief that new priorities for cooperation between EU and ASEAN could be considered on the basis of the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II and its three Plans of Action, the Vientiane Action Programme, and the New Communication.

In the field of political cooperation, the EU's participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum has ensured its strong engagement with the Asia-Pacific region for the maintenance of peace and stability. Thus, we have agreed to implement the Joint Declaration on Cooperation to Combat Terrorism that was issued in Brussels in January 2003. I am sure that such cooperation will contribute greatly to the realization of the work programme for the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, including Terrorism.

As to our economic relations, I am pleased to note that the EU has become one of the important markets for ASEAN products. Our trade with EU now represents 11.5 percent of ASEAN total trade, so that EU is now outranked only by the United States and Japan as an ASEAN trading partner. Meanwhile, the EU contributed 35 percent of total foreign direct investment in ASEAN for the year 2003.

I can therefore confidently affirm that the long standing relations and cooperation between EU and ASEAN have contributed to the political, social, and economic development of ASEAN member countries. They have also helped sustain peace, stability and prosperity not only in Southeast Asia but also in the Asia- Pacific region. These encouraging developments in our cooperation indicate bright possibilities for even greater achievements in the future.

I hope that our meeting today will be fruitful, so that we can further enlarge and deepen our relations and cooperation.

The article was an opening remarks by Minister for Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirajuda at the 15 th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta on Thursday.