Mr. Chairman,

On behalf of the European union, I would like to thank you very much for your kind words of welcome. I am glad to be here in Kuala Lumpur to participate in the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference.

I would like to pay a tribute to the achievements of the Association of South East Asian Nations on the occasion of the celebration of its 30th birthday, Since its inception in Bangkok in 1967, it has overcome many storms and winds of change. It has established regional cooperation and consultation which have been highly beneficial to the entire region of the Asia-Pacific. In fact, ASEAN has become a model of regional cooperation.

ASEAN has launched other initiatives in the Security sector or trade and investment sector : the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Free Trade Area, the ASEAN Industrial Cooperation and the ASEAN Investment Agreement. An illustration of its achievements and success.

The EU acknowledges and is fully aware of the historic dimension of ASEAN’s enlargement formally approved just a few days ago. It is a major step in ASEAN approaching the final goal of the great vision of the founding fathers of ASEAN, 30 years ago. Their goal was and I quote : ” to integrate all South East Asian States in a community of ten, in a joint effort to promote economic cooperation and the welfare of the people in the region “. One can say that this vision is now very close to becoming reality.

The EU expects that the accession in particular of Burma/Myanmar to ASEAN will contribute to an improvement of the internal situation in this country. The EU, preoccupied by the situation in Cambodia, has issued a declaration on July 7th to call upon all parties to refrain from violence and calling for a return to the normal functionning of the institutions. The EU calls on the authorities of Cambodia to respect the public commitment to hold elections in May of 1998. The EU has recognized ASEAN’s primary role in this crisis and it wishes to continue a close consultation with ASEAN on the situation in Cambodia, in particular through the EU-ASEAN institutionalized dialogue.

The EU is determined to carry forward the wide scope of interactions between ASEAN and the E7j, as was decided in February of this year at the 12th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Singapore. Sharing a common interest in working together closely in the economic, political and security fields, the EU and ASEM are celebrating their 20th anniversary of cooperation and dialogue. The EU values the dialogue with ASEAN very much and is looking forward to a continued cooperation with ASEAN and its member states into the 21st century.