|Ambassador Igor Driesmans, head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to ASEAN. — VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Chiến
JAKARTA — Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to ASEAN, Ambassador Igor Driesmans, has hailed Việt Nam as not only a major bilateral partner but also an important partner of the EU in cooperation with ASEAN.
Talking to a Vietnam News Agency (VNA) correspondent on Tuesday ahead of Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính’s European visit, Driesmans praised Việt Nam's solid relationship with the EU.
PM Chính will visit Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium for the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit marking the 45th anniversary of ASEAN-EU ties.
Ahead of the trip, scheduled for December 9-15, the Ambassador said EU-Việt Nam cooperation framework is now robust.
On the meaning of the first ASEAN-EU Summit scheduled for December 14, he said it is historic that 27 European heads of state and government plus the EU's two institutional presidents will meet with all of the ASEAN leaders, which has never happened before.
He said the summit is significant as it reinforces the bilateral relationship between the EU and ASEAN even further and also sends a message to the rest of the world that they are committed to working together. And in the difficult geopolitical times, they together chose for more cooperation, more partnership, instead of entering into further competition.
Driesmans revealed that some major investments from the EU into ASEAN will be announced which will help the sustainable development of the region, in clean energy, digital transition and sustainable infrastructure.
Asked about the position of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific strategy that has recently announced by the EU, he said it is a surprise to count how many times ASEAN was mentioned in the Indo-Pacific strategy, and is central to the EU’s approach to the Indo Pacific, because a strong ASEAN is vital.
“Strong ASEAN is good for the EU, because it helps to stabilise the different geopolitical tensions," he said.
"And of course, a strong ASEAN is also good for its own citizens, and for its prosperity as a trade partner with us. So that's why we've invested so much into this partnership, because we think it's also good for us in Europe.”
Regarding the EU-ASEAN cooperation in recent years, the ambassador said the strategic partnership in 2020 has grown into a very comprehensive partnership. The EU is actually the most comprehensive partner that ASEAN has with 20 different dialogues.
He said: “Just this week, there is a conference on high speed computing, we work together on road transport, climate change, human rights, and many things. We're also the biggest contributor financially to different work streams of ASEAN as a regional organisation.
“We are a pivotal economic partner. We're the third largest trade partner of ASEAN and vice versa. If you look at the inflows of investments, the so called foreign direct investment inflows just last year in 2021, we ranked second. So our relationship, our partnership is very tight despite that we're on the other side of the world. They are very connected in many different ways.”
He said the EU and ASEAN need to do even more together to stimulate respective green transactions.
“We need to become carbon neutral as Europe but eventually also as ASEAN as the world," Driesmans said.
"That's what we have committed to do in the different climate change conferences. So that will require a lot of cooperation, that will require that we work together to strengthen clean energy and renewable energy. That means more investment from Europe. That means also a stronger political cooperation on these sometimes difficult topics.”
The diplomat called on working together further on security aspects, saying that together, they could be strong proponents of a rules-based international order to guarantee peace and stability and work together to promote these basic values. — VNS