The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Teodor Meleșcanu, led the Romanian delegation in the 22nd ministerial meeting between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EU – ASEAN), held in Brussels on January 21, 2019. The main topic on the agenda of the ministerial meeting concerned the relations between the EU and ASEAN and the progress towards concluding a bi-regional strategic partnership.
In his statement, the head of the Romanian delegation addressed the prospect of concluding the strategic partnership between the European Union and ASEAN, which will reflect the relevance of the two organisations in the regional and global architecture. Pointing out to the motto of the Romanian Presidency of the EU Council, “Cohesion, a common European value”, the Romanian foreign minister underlined its relevance for the relations between the EU and ASEAN.
“EU and ASEAN share the same fundamental values and are faced with similar challenges. We need to embrace a similar approach to global themes such as climate change, cyber security and combating extremism. All this should be based on supporting common goals, such as promoting multilateralism, regional integration, open and fair trade, rules-based international order and peaceful settlement of disputes,” Minister Meleșcanu stated.
In this context, he referred to the security challenges in the European neighbourhood and to the common concern for cyber security, calling for a mutually supportive EU-ASEAN approach. Moreover, he mentioned the bi-regional cooperation opportunities in the field of connectivity, including its human dimension, and the key role of education in this regard.
The conclusions of the ministerial meeting referred to strengthening the relations between EU and ASEAN in 2019. The EU Council reiterated the support given to the regional integration of ASEAN and underlined the importance of promoting stronger trade and investment ties with ASEAN, recalling its commitment to strengthen cooperation in the field of security.
In the margins of the meeting, the head of the Romanian diplomacy had a bilateral meeting with the Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah. On this occasion, Minister Meleșcanu reiterated Romania’s interest in developing political dialogue and bilateral economic cooperation. He emphasised the importance granted by Romania to aspects related to commuting the sentence of the two Romanian citizens who have received the final sentence to death and to ensuring a fair treatment for the third detainee, whose case is ongoing. Moreover, Minister Meleșcanu expressed appreciation for the excellent cooperation between the two states in the framework of international organisations.
ASEAN was established in Bangkok, on August 8, 1967, by the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, followed by Brunei in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999. Its current work is managed by the ASEAN Secretariat, headquartered in Jakarta, led by Secretary General Lim Jok Hoi, with the rank of Minister. The main objectives of the organisation are boosting economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region, as well as promoting regional peace and stability.