Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini ahead of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) of Foreign Ministers
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We will have a very important ministerial meeting between the Asian ministers and the European ministers today and tomorrow, tackling all the different issues we have on the table, and most of all the partnership between Europe and Asia that, in the global times we are living in, is going to be extremely important.
Obviously, we will also have discussions on key topics that are on top of the agenda for both continents : the situation in the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will be high on the agenda, looking for ways to peacefully resolve the crisis, and leading to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. We are working on this with our partners and friends in the region.
Let me also share that we have just had an informal briefing with the State Counsellor [of Myanmar] Aung San Suu Kyi on the situation in Rakhine State that I have found extremely encouraging. I am coming myself directly from Bangladesh where I was visiting some of the refugee camps yesterday and having meetings with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh [Mrs Sheikh Hasina]. I am very much encouraged by the possibility, that – I believe – is real and concrete of Myanmar and Bangladesh reaching an agreement on a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of refugees, which would constitute a first important step on the implementation of the Annan report [the Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Kofi Annan] recommendations.
We encourage both, Bangladesh and Myanmar to work bilaterally on this issue with the support of the European Union and the rest of the international community. We believe that stopping the violence, stopping the flow of refugees, and guaranteeing full humanitarian access to Rakhine State and a safe, sustainable repatriation of the refugees is going to be key, and I am encouraged by our first, initial, informal discussion this morning.
The European Union is firmly behind the democratic transition of Myanmar ; we understand how delicate the process is and that it is still ongoing, and one of our main priorities is to support the consolidation of this democratic transition. At the same time, we think that work has to be done to implement the Kofi Annan report recommendations and I am encouraged by the willingness of Aung San Suu Kyi to go in this direction and the European Union will support in all possible manners, both Myanmar and Bangladesh and the region to find a sustainable solution to this crisis.
I expect to have positive exchanges these days with our partners in Asia. On the European Union side, we are there as a reliable partner for our multilateral agenda and for our bilateral agenda between Europe and Asia.
Thank you very much.