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  November - December 2009


Tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand,
the world’s longest reigning monarch. Blessed are all Thais to have a King of sincerity, compassion and plain common sense. For all those who respect His Majesty for his integrity, it was an immense relief and joy to learn that the great monarch is convalescing from his recent illness. In this humble tribute, commemorating His Majesty’s 82nd Birthday, AseanAffairs presents a snapshot of His Majesty’s life and works.

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Region-to-Region Approach
Dr. Werner Hoyer
Minister of State
Federal Foreign Office, Germany

Q:  There have been mixed, and often critical, reviews and responses to US President Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize for what the Norwegian Nobel Committee called Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". Do you think Obama deserves it?

A:  The news of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize has taken many by surprise, including the President himself. To me, the surprise has nonetheless been very pleasant. In the nine months of his tenure, President Obama significantly altered the tone of American foreign policy. His multilateral approach as well as his firm commitment to the vision of a world without nuclear weapons marks the return to long-lost ideals of global leadership. President Obama may not yet have achieved everything on his ambitious agenda, but his aspirations are more than laudable – I believe that we should reach for his extended hand and support him on his way towards a more peaceful world.

Q:  The United States has just announced its intention to seek a free trade agreement with Asean (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations). This comes as the EU's efforts to set up an FTA with Asean get nowhere. What should Germany, as the biggest economy in the EU, do to help find a way out of this deadlock?

A:  During Germany's European Council presidency in 2007, Asean and the EU celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of formal relations. Both Asean and the EU are examples for successful regional integration and our relationship is based on mutual trust and reliability. The year 2007 also marked the adoption of the "Nuremberg Declaration", in which Asean and the EU declared to henceforth further their dialogue and collaboration. We now need to find means and ways of making these declarations a reality

The best way of proceeding in the complicated matter of the Asean-EU Free Trade Agreement is to concentrate on a region-to-region approach, paying tribute to the different levels of development and capacity of individual Asean countries. Apart from the FTA, it is absolutely crucial that we continue to follow the Doha Development Agenda. An agreement in this area would be highly beneficial both for the member countries of Asean and of the European Union and we hope that we will soon be able to resume the negotiations.

Q:  What do you think should be the new German government's policy regarding economic and trade cooperation with Asia, in general, and Southeast Asia, in particular?

A: The countries of Southeast Asia constitute one of the world’s economically most dynamic regions. Any increase in trade and economic cooperation would be mutually beneficial. It is up to our governments to provide a framework allowing to deepen the existing ties. Apart from the multilateral approach, where the European Union is the driving force, the FDP also supports the idea of closer bilateral ties between Germany and individual Southeast-Asian countries.

Q:  What kind of support should German companies (in Southeast Asia) expect from the new German cabinet?

A: External trade is one of the cornerstones of our economy, and the newly elected German government will make sure to further strengthen our position. There is a whole array of measures intended to support German companies wanting to invest abroad. These measures, however, are subject to certain restrictions. We firmly believe that any competition, whether nationally or internationally, should be fair and square.

Q:  Should Southeast Asia look out for a change in Germany's foreign policy towards the region in the wake of a new coalition?    .... Read the Complete Article Subscribe to ASEANAFFAIRS Magazine

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