Anna Carin Krokstäde

Strategies for the ARF

BCAS, December 2002

The Asia-Pacific Security Agenda

Topics from the 5th Walbröl Group Meeting; December 2002

Anna Carin Krokstäde, European Commission

Strategies for the ARF *

* The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the European Commission.

The title of this intervention gives me the opportunity to approach a wide range of topics: Strategies for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) from an overall ARF perspective? Or from a European perspective? Strategies within ARF - or ARF as part of an overall strategy for the EU in Asia? After a brief expose of the background of ARF and the European Union's role herein, I will take the opportunity to briefly address the European decision-making with regards to foreign policy and security matters. I will also look at the European overall strategies for Asia and finally, outline some directions that the EU would like to see take shape within the ARF in the years to come.

ASEAN Regional Forum - Background

It was only a matter of time before ASEAN's regular interaction on economic cooperation with states and multilateral agencies outside Southeast Asia would evolve to include other concerns - primarily regional security. The end of the Cold War had altered the configuration of international relations in East Asia. There were new opportunities for the relaxation of tensions in the region through multilateral consultations, confidence building, and perhaps also through conflict prevention. This is the background for the creation, in 1994, of the ASEAN Regional Forum. Initially, Forum participants included the ASEAN members, the other Southeast Asian states that were not yet ASEAN members, ASEAN's then seven dialogue partners, Papua New Guinea, an ASEAN observer, and China and Russia, who were at that time still "consultative partners" of ASEAN. As a major venue for carrying out ASEAN's objectives of regional harmony and stability, ARF adopted two main objectives: first, to foster constructive dialogue and consultation on political and security issues of common interest and concern and, second, to contribute to efforts towards confidence building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region. Since its inaugural meeting in Bangkok in July 1994, ARF has taken an evolutionary approach extended over three broad stages: the promotion of confidence building among participants; the development of preventive diplomacy; and the elaboration of approaches to conflict resolution. The ARF may not have reached its full potential yet, but still it is the primary forum of Asian security issues.

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