The European Union (EU) on Tuesday, November 14, said that it is working towards a strategic partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that would further strengthen security cooperation to thwart terrorism and violent extremism.
“The EU fully supports ASEAN’s efforts and its mission. We are working towards a strategic partnership to encompass not only trade, investment and sectoral cooperation but also more security cooperation,” European Council President Donald Tusk said at the 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit.
Tusk said that the new ASEAN-EU plan of action would contribute to this goal.
“We remain committed to a strong and cohesive ASEAN developing in its own character, in the best interest of regional prosperity, stability and security,” Tusk said.
According to Tusk, ASEAN and EU can work together, particularly through information-sharing to counter terrorist attacks and violent extremism.
“Terrorist ideologies have spread across continents. We can mitigate the threat if we work together, sharing information on suspects and trends of concern,” Tusk said.
“ASEAN and the EU are already developing anti-terror cooperation through information sharing via Interpol and Europol and the exchange of best practices on dealing with violent extremism,” he said.
“We, in Europe, are grateful to be able to draw on the considerable experience ASEAN countries have on this issue,” he added.
Tusk also noted that EU and the ASEAN are working together on tackling other threats such as smuggling and human trafficking.
“Beyond counter-terrorism, we have cooperated since 2012 on tackling a variety of other threats. Last June, we had ASEAN representatives visiting the headquarters of the EU’s anti-smuggling naval mission Operation Sophia which targets people smugglers and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean,” he said.
“Be it in the fight against piracy, against illegal and unregulated fishing or any other type of transnational criminality at sea, the EU has a strong record and know-how that we are sharing with ASEAN partners,” he added.
Aside from counter-terrorism, Tusk said the EU and ASEAN can further strengthen cooperation in the areas of trade, climate change, and maritime security.
Tusk meanwhile said both the ASEAN and the EU are economic powers.
“Free and fair trade is and always will be in our DNA… Today, EU investors are the leading providers of foreign direct investment to ASEAN countries,” he said, noting that EU investments in the region have grown by 46 percent last year.
For his part, President Rodrigo Duterte, chairman of this year’s ASEAN Summit, said the EU occupies a special place in ASEAN’s external relations.
“The ASEAN-EU dialogue of 10 plus 28 members is ASEAN’s largest and only region-to-region full dialogue partnerships,” Duterte said.
“Our increasing people-oriented, people-centered agenda drives ASEAN-EU cooperation on the bulk of long-standing historical and commercial ties,” he added.