JAKARTA, 10 November 2015 – Italy is seeking to further deepen its relationship with ASEAN and will work with other Members of the European Union to further promote ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations. President of the Italian Republic, Honourable Sergio Mattarella, conveyed this message today when he made an official visit to the ASEAN Secretariat and met with Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh.

Secretary-General Minh welcomed the President and noted that it was the first visit to the ASEAN Secretariat by a Head of State of an EU Member State. He recalled Italy’s successful hosting of the 10th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit in October 2014 in Milan, which contributed to advancing dialogue and cooperation among countries in Asia and Europe.

SG Minh acknowledged the important role Italy is playing to promote ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations. He recalled the agreement reached between ASEAN and the EU to intensify efforts towards further deepening the relations, including the possibility of establishing an ASEAN-EU Strategic Partnership. He further cited the decision made by ASEAN and EU in March 2015 to resume region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations after the launch of the ASEAN Community at the end of this year.

President Mattarella acknowledged the excellent relationship Italy has with ASEAN and its Member States, and expressed the confidence that his visit to the countries in the region would contribute to advancing the existing mutually beneficial ties, in which vast potentials have yet to be tapped. He sees similarity in the integration process in the EU and ASEAN, which have been instrumental in forging peace, stability and economic development. He assured of Italy’s contributing role and support towards to the goals and objectives of ASEAN Community. He firmly believed in future of ASEAN-EU strategic partnership and expressed Italy’s strong commitment to workg with ASEAN in areas such as political and security, trade and investment and connectivity. He strongly supported the resumption of a region-to-region FTA.

Secretary-General Minh informed that ASEAN is moving steadily towards realising an integrated, well connected, and people-oriented Community. He added that ASEAN will adopt ASEAN Community 2025 vision to guide the Community’s integration process over the next 10 years. In this connection, he said that the continued support extended to ASEAN by its external partners, including the EU and EU Member States such as Italy, is of high importance to ASEAN’s success and achievements.

Former Prime Minister of Italy, H.E. Enrico Letta, who accompanied President Mattarella, took the opportunity to announce the establishment of the Forum Italia-ASEAN, which would serve as a platform to provide greater awareness for Italian private sector and businesses on the trade and investment opportunities in ASEAN.