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EU fails to convince Southeast Asia to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In World
January 30, 2024
Despite the EU’s efforts, neither statement includes any mention of Taiwan.

The 2024 statement also urges parties to “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of all activities” in the South China Sea and “encourages all countries to avoid any unilateral actions that endanger peace, security, and stability in the region”.

A senior EU official said: “On many of these issues, of course, we will not have exactly the same views between EU and Asean, so it’s a matter of negotiation.”

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Nonetheless, Brussels will be raising the war in Ukraine and urging Asean members to prevent Russia getting around Western sanctions.

“There is an illegal war of aggression on our own continent, we absolutely have to do the job of talking to our partners in the region,” the official added.

The draft document contains sections on Gaza, North Korea, Afghanistan and Myanmar, which had not been finalised at the time of writing.

A proposed text from Asean called for a “durable ceasefire and for all concerned parties to ensure the most effective and efficient access for humanitarian aid … throughout Gaza”. It called for parties to abide by international humanitarian law and for an “immediate and unconditional release of civilian hostages”.

However, it was unclear whether Brussels would be prepared to accept such language on an issue where the bloc itself is split.

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The EU-Asean meeting forms part of two days of events geared towards solidifying Europe’s ties with the Indo=Pacific.

The foreign ministers will have a working dinner on Friday evening. Before this, the bloc will host its third Indo Pacific Forum, where more than 70 foreign ministers from places ranging from East Africa to the South Pacific will attend.

On Saturday, the EU’s 27 foreign ministers will hold a meeting of their own, and are expected to focus on military support for Ukraine.

Last year’s Indo Pacific Forum in Stockholm was held after such an EU meeting had taken place, with around half the bloc’s foreign ministers promptly leaving without meeting their counterparts from Asia and Africa.

China has not been invited for the third successive year. A senior EU official said the country “has not pursued engagement with partners in line with our concept of the Indo Pacific”.

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“You haven’t heard China talk about the Indo-Pacific as a concept they would like to engage with,” they said. “There are lots of formats in which we engage with China fully and completely.”

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