How does ASEAN affect our lives

Speaker: Frank-Walter Steinmeyer
Date: 03/14/2007

Subtitle: Greetings from Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier on the occasion of the opening of the 16th EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting, March 14, 2007

Dear Colleagues, Your Excellencies, Dear Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to the meeting of Foreign Ministers between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. We are meeting in this circle for the 16th time, and the number of encounters alone shows how intense and close our relationships have become.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you, but above all our guests from overseas, to Nuremberg! A city whose extensive trade network reached as far as Southeast Asia and India as early as the 15th century.

And this cosmopolitan tradition continues to this day: In July, Nuremberg will host the "Asia-Pacific Forum", and you, Mr. Ong Keng Yong, will be here again as ASEAN Secretary General to showcase this showcase for the economy and culture of Asia open.

I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to the city of Nuremberg and you, Lord Mayor Dr. Maly. Thank you for welcoming the 40 ministerial delegations from the EU and Southeast Asia to your city. We would also like to thank you for your active support in preparing our meeting.

2007 is a special year for both the EU and ASEAN. In the EU, in a few days' time, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. In ASEAN, August 8, 2007 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Bangkok Declaration.

And we're celebrating an anniversary together: 30 years of official relations between the EU and ASEAN. In February 1977 the ASEAN Council of Ministers decided on a corresponding initiative. In September 1978 our predecessors met for the first time in Brussels.

These anniversaries are an occasion for all of us to look back: to a successful integration within our two regional organizations. And on ever closer cooperation between the EU and ASEAN.

But let's also look ahead to the tasks ahead of us: The challenges of climate change are obvious, for you in Southeast Asia as well as for us in Europe. At the last summit, the EU set itself very ambitious climate targets. However, they will only develop their full effect if other international partners join in as well.

Energy policy is closely linked to modern climate policy. Here, too, we will have to break new ground together.

Joint action is also required when it comes to trade issues. For the ASEAN countries, the EU is their second largest export market and their third largest trading partner. Out of our own self-interest, let us work together to bring the world trade round to a successful conclusion.

Finally, we should continue to work together even more closely in the area of ​​security policy. Regional trouble spots such as those in the Near and Middle East or Afghanistan pose security risks for all of us, and international terrorism threatens the people in our countries equally. With the cooperation on the observation mission in Aceh, the EU and ASEAN have successfully broken new ground. Let's pick up on that.

The list of these future tasks is long, and one thing is certain: we will only be able to tackle them together. The age of nation states is over, at least insofar as none of our countries can solve the tasks mentioned on their own.

However, together we have significant resources. 500 million people live in today's EU and 560 million in the ASEAN countries, which makes over a billion citizens a sixth of the world's population. No doubt we can make a difference together!

I hope that we can conduct our discussions today and tomorrow in this spirit. Europe and Asia need strong and stable regional organizations such as the EU and ASEAN, which contribute to peace and prosperity through regional integration and ever closer cooperation with one another and with one another.

So once again I warmly welcome you and look forward to a fruitful exchange.