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HR/VP Josep Borrell concludes his first visit to Indonesia and ASEAN

02/06/2021 - 08:00
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The EU High Representative´s first visit in Jakarta serves to deepen relations with Indonesia and further develop the EU´s strategic partnership with ASEAN

This Friday, the EU High Representative Josep Borrell concluded his four-day visit to Indonesia and the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The visit has demonstrated the EU’s wish to deepen relations with Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies and economies, which will hold the G20 Presidency in 2022 and the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2023, as well as to further develop its strategic partnership with ASEAN.

“The EU’s recent actions speak for themselves: in December 2020, we elevated our relationship with ASEAN to a Strategic Partnership, and on 19 April 2021 we announced the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. We have opened a new chapter in our relations with ASEAN, and the EU is putting a stronger focus on the Indo-Pacific region. Our shared agenda includes key areas such as connectivity, sustainability, health, defence and security, and multilateralism”, HR/VP Borrell stated ahead of his departure.

During his visit in Jakarta, High Representative/Vice President Borrell held meetings with President Joko Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto as well as Meutya Hafid (Chair of the Parliament’s Foreign Relations Commission) and Fadli Zon (Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Commission). 

In his meeting with the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, High Representative Borrell stressed the EU’s willingness to accelerate work with Indonesia to complete negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which would be the EU’s third free trade agreement with one of the members of ASEAN.

"We, the European Union and Indonesia, have been partners for the last 30 years. We are like-minded countries. But I think that the potential of our relationship is untapped. We can do much more. And I hope and I am sure that this visit will mark a starting point of a new impetus to the European Union-Indonesia relationship", Borrell said at his joint press conference with Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi.

Borrell and Marsudi had in depth discussions concerning fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinations, and the need to work together addressing issues relating to palm oil, sustainable development and the green transition. They also discussed a wide range of global issues, including the situation in Myanmar -Borrell welcomed Minister Marsudi’s leadership in seeking to address the situation within ASEAN-, in Palestine and Israel, in Afghanistan and in the Indo-Pacific.

On his meeting with the Indonesian Minister of Defence, Prabowo Subianto, the EU High Representative underlined the EU’s willingness to extend its cooperation with the ASEAN-centred security architecture in the region, above all in the area of maritime security, following his first invitation to join the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus forum in 2020.

Another highlight of the trip was the visit to the ASEAN headquarters, where HR/VP Borrell met the ASEAN Secretary-General, Lim Jock Hoi, and the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives to discuss the deepening of EU-ASEAN relations to advance the EU-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. The EU High Representative strongly encouraged ASEAN in its efforts to address the situation in Myanmar, launched the €20 million EU-funded "Southeast Asia Health Pandemic Response and Preparedness" project, and officially opened the EU Project Office at the ASEAN Secretariat.

During his four-day visit, Borrell still had time to inaugurate the new premises of the EU Delegation to Indonesia, oversee the official upgrade of the EU Mission to ASEAN to a fully-fledged EU Delegation, and welcome the successful conclusion of negotiations on an EU-ASEAN Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement.

In a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, HR/VP Borrell warned against the risk that politics and nationalism trump the economic development and cooperation, which have been the glue that have held the countries of the Indo-Pacific together. "The key point to make here is that economic growth of this region rests on openness, on stable and shared rules, and shared security. The EU’s interest is precisely this: that the regional order stays open and rules-based. We can contribute a lot, which – as I witnessed during my visit – is recognised by our regional partners who view the EU a trusted and reliable actor.”