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  Global Views
Europe, Asia Cooperate for More Secure World
Special Contribution
By Javier Solana
Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member countries during AMM Retreat at Gedung Pancasila on 30 June 2004.

Europe and Asia are a long way apart geographically. But we are growing ever closer as political and trading partners. We have many values in common, and already work together in a number of ways, and in various organizations, in order to promote our shared objectives.

This week I will be in Jakarta representing the European Union at the Foreign Ministers meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). This annual meeting is the only regional forum focused solely on security issues, and represents a unique opportunity for Foreign Ministers of Asian and Pacific countries, together with the European Union, to discuss strategies for tackling common challenges.

High on our agenda will be the threats posed by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, issues of central importance to the countries of the European Union as well as to our Asian partners.

Terrorism seeks to undermine the openness and tolerance of our societies, and poses a growing threat to all our citizens: terrorist movements are increasingly well-resourced, interlinked across the globe and willing to use unlimited violence to cause massive casualties. The EU is determined to confront the terrorist threat relentlessly and comprehensively. EU countries agreed earlier this year the appointment of a counter-terrorism co-coordinator to improve co-ordination and visibility of the EU's actions.

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Ban Ki-moon, arrives at Gedung Pancasila for bilateral meeting on Wednesday, 30 June 2004.

EU member states are co-operating ever more closely in Europol, sharing criminal and operational intelligence, and have agreed that strengthening the fight against terrorist financing must be a priority for the EU in the coming months. The EU will continue to develop initiatives for closer co-operation with international organizations, particularly the UN, and efforts to counter terrorism will be a key element in our political dialogue with third countries.

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is potentially the greatest threat to our security. International treaty regimes and export control arrangements have slowed their spread, but advanced biological and missile technology is now more readily available than ever before. A key objective must be to ensure that such weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists. The best solution to the problem of proliferation is that countries should no longer feel that they need them.

The EU will therefore support political and diplomatic preventative measures as the first line of defense against proliferation. But political solutions to all of the different problems, fears and ambitions of countries in the most dangerous regions for proliferation will not be easy to achieve in the short term. The EU will therefore continue to pursue a policy of preventing, deterring and halting programs of concern, while addressing in parallel their underlying causes.

Defense officials from ARF member countries pose together after concluding the 11th meeting of ARF Defense Officials on 1 July 2004 at the Jakarta Convention Center.

The other key international challenge is bad governance, failing and failed states and regional conflicts. Corruption, weak institutions and lack of accountability provide ideal conditions for terrorists and proliferators to pursue their activities, as well as organized criminals trafficking in drugs, women, illegal migrants and weapons. The EU will continue to support better governance through assistance programs, conditionality and targeted trade measures.

It is clear that the threats I have just described are threats to us all. Globalization requires us to take greater collective responsibility for these sorts of threats, which are not limited by national boundaries, and which can only be tackled effectively at regional or global level. Concerted international action is essential.

The European Union is committed to the development of a stronger international society, well-functioning international institutions and a rule-based international order. The fundamental framework for international relations is the United Nations Charter, and the EU will support the further strengthening of the UN, including its capability to act when required in conflict and crisis management situations. The EU is also committed to the effective functioning and development of other essential components of this multilateral world order, such as the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court.

The EU will continue to work together with Asian and Pacific countries bilaterally, through the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process and through co-operation with Asian regional organizations such as ASEAN, Asia Co-operation Dialogue, South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation, the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, as well as the ARF, in order to contribute to this necessary strengthening of wider international order and co-operation.

Leaders at the third session of the Leaders' Meeting in the morning of 21 October 2000.

The EU will continue to encourage the further development of the ARF. The ARF has made significant progress in building confidence between Asia-Pacific countries. The time is now right for ARF countries to turn their attention to strengthening ARF's capabilities in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution. The EU warmly welcomes the creation of a permanent Secretariat, and is willing to support this new unit to drive forward the effectiveness and capabilities of the ARF.

The EU is delighted to be able to play a role in this process of capability development through our co-chairmanship for a year from July 2004, with Cambodia, of the ARF inter-sessional group on Confidence Building Measures. We are keen to discuss further with our regional partners concepts and proposals such as those made by Indonesia at the last ASEAN Summit for an ASEAN Security Community, including the establishment of "regional peacekeeping arrangements." I look forward to reporting to ARF Ministers in July 2005 the progress we will make.

This will be the first time that the EU will attend the ARF Ministerial meeting as a union of 25 rather than 15 member states. The enlargement of the EU on 1 May 2004 was an historic moment for Europe. Former ideological and military rivals are now united as partners around one table. The enlarged EU will be a more effective political and economic partner for Asia.

I look forward to rewarding exchanges with my Asian and Pacific counterparts this week in Jakarta, and to reaffirming to them in person the commitment of the European Union to the pursuit of our important shared global objectives.

Dr. Javier Solana became EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy after his four-year term as NATO's 9th Secretary General. Dr Solana, also served as Madrid Univ.'s physics professor and a Socialist member of Spain's parliament. He held various cabinet posts including culture minister, government spokesman, education minister before becoming foreign minister in 1992, a portfolio he held until his appointment as NATO Secretary General.






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