ASEAN: Le Luong Minh meets Lady Ashton

Jakarta – The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Lady Catherine Ashton paid an official visit to the ASEAN Secretariat and met Secretary-General of ASEAN, Le Luong Minh yesterday. Lady Ashton is also Vice President of the European Commission and this is the first official visit to the ASEAN Secretariat by the highest-level European Union official thus far, reflecting EU’s continued commitment and political will in its relationship with ASEAN and ASEAN Member States.

Le Luong Minh expressed appreciation to EU’s efforts and concrete collaboration with ASEAN through the past and ongoing cooperation programmes aimed at supporting the ASEAN Community building. These include programmes such as the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE) and Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) which are examples of development assistance that can contribute to greater policy coordination and coherence in support of ASEAN’s regional integration and community building, in both trade and non-trade areas. Secretary-General Minh also expressed appreciation to the EU Programmes which support the capacity building in trade negotiations for ASEAN Member States as well as the ASEAN Secretariat’s capacity in monitoring regional economic integration and statistics.

Further, Secretary-General Minh called for EU’s continued support to ASEAN in pursuing its post-2015 agenda, particularly the ASEAN Connectivity, to further broaden and deepen regional economic integration. They exchanged views on how both sides could align their priorities and cooperation in the long run, particularly in the ASEAN Community’s post 2015 period as well as new developments, requirements and needs in the new stage of ASEAN Community.

Lady Ashton cited the long-standing cooperation and relationships the EU had with ASEAN Member States and ASEAN.  She commended the efforts and achievements made in the ASEAN Community building which had brought tangible benefits to the region and beyond. She said that the economic strength of ASEAN is felt beyond the region. Lady Ashton also reiterated EU’s support for ASEAN Community and expressed optimism that ASEAN-EU Partnership post-2015 will continue to flourish.

Secretary-General Minh and Lady Ashton exchanged views on the developments in ASEAN and the EU. They emphasized their respective regional strength and experiences in regional economic integration, lessons and successes that can be shared and learned from each other. These include unique experiences and best practices that the two regional groupings can offer.

On this occasion, Lady Aston also visited the new EU Programme Office based at the ASEAN Secretariat. She said that the office reflects a close and effective coordination and cooperation between the two regional groupings.