Bugaria's Foreign Minister: Long-Awaited Upgrade of EU-ASEAN Relations to Strategic Partnership is Good News

Politics » DIPLOMACY | December 1, 2020, Tuesday // 17:09
Bulgaria: Bugaria's Foreign Minister: Long-Awaited Upgrade of EU-ASEAN Relations to Strategic Partnership is Good News

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva welcomed the elevation of relations between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a strategic partnership during the 23rd meeting of the two organizations' foreign ministers.

The ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting was held on 1 December 2020 via video conference. It was co-chaired by Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell. The Meeting was attended by the Foreign Ministers or their representatives from all ASEAN Member States and 27 EU Member States, as well as the ASEAN Secretariat and European Commission.

"The long-awaited upgrade of EU-ASEAN relations to a strategic partnership is really good news," Bulgaria's Foreign Minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva said during the videoconference discussion.

"We believe that this reflects the real state of our relationship, but at the same time it will open a wider horizon for our dialogue," she added.

Highlights of the meeting included the growing importance of multilateralism, regional co-operation, digitalisation, trade relations, as well as global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine security. "It is inspiring that even in these times of pandemic, the EU and ASEAN continue to maintain close contact, plan joint commitments and expand their areas of co-operation," said Ekaterina Zaharieva.

As an example of the continuous efforts, she noted the videoconference held in March on the cooperation between the EU and ASEAN in the fight against coronavirus, the financial support of EUR 800 million provided by the Union for the region within the "Europe Team", as well as the joint efforts to advance the free trade negotiations between the regions and the finalization of EU-ASEAN comprehensive air transport agreement (CATA).

"The adoption of a Joint Ministerial Statement on Connectivity after today's meeting outlines new prospects for future expansion of our co-operation," Bulgaria’s foreign minister said in a statement.

The 23rd EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting was hosted by Singapore, in its role as ASEAN Coordinator for EU Relations 2018-2021. Co-chaired by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

ASEAN is a geopolitical and economic organization of the countries of Southeast Asia, established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok. It has 10 member countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, and the organisation is currently the fifth largest economy in the world. Formal relations between the EU and ASEAN were established in 1977./BNT

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