9th EUROPE-EAST ASIA THINK-TANK DIALOGUE - Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia
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Background on the annual EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue Conference Series
The EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue is an annual event jointly organised by the Konrad- Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and Institutes of Strategic and International Studies in East and Southeast Asia since the year 1999 initially to promote intellectual exchange and policy oriented collaboration between scholars from ASEAN and EU countries. ASEAN-EU relations were at a low point then. Both regions were partly responsible for this sad reality. EU was too preoccupied with its own enlargement and compounding the problem was that EU die apparently not have an understanding of the strategic importance of Southeast Asia and ASEAN. At the same time, since the Asian financial crisis, ASEAN still has not fully recovered from its own absorption in dealing with the social and political fallout of the crisis. ASEAN as a regional organisation has also weakened somewhat as differences sharpened among the members during the Asian crisis.
Against this background it was decided to organise the think tank conferences both as annual events and alternating in a European and Asian capital with the aim of bringing about needed changes in ASEAN-EU relations.
The first three dialogue sessions were held in Manila (1999), Strasbourg (2000), and Bangkok (2001) covering themes such as Integration and Solidarity and Global Power-Play in the Asia-Pacific.
During the 4th EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue in Brussels (2002), there was a general sense that ASEAN-EU relations was still at a low point. However, following the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in January 2003, ministers from both regions expressed the desire to move the relations forward. Mr Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Relations took the opportunity to outline the EU’s plan for boosting economic relations with ASEAN through expansion of trade and investments between the two blocs. Much has happened also in the regions and globally since the meeting. With these developments the dialogue between ASEAN and EU think tank representatives was continued to examine the challenges and opportunities ahead for the revitalisation of ASEAN-EU Partnership.
The fifth dialogue in the series, held in Singapore (2003), was co-hosted by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and the KAS Regional Office in Singapore. The theme for this Dialogue was on “Revitalising ASEAN-EU Partnership to meet Global Security and Economic Challenges”.
The 2004 Dialogue was, for the first time reconfigured as the ASEAN+3 EU Think Tank Dialogue, and was co-hosted by the Institute for Strategic and International Studies (IEEI) in Lisbon. The theme for the Dialogue was on “Completing the Triangle – East Asia, EU and the United States: Recent Developments, Challenges and Prospects for Inter-Regional Cooperation”. For the first time think tank representatives from China, Japan and South Korea took part in the conferences. Besides Lisbon the group of Asian representatives also went to Brussels for a roundtable discussion at the European Parliament as well for a roundtable session in Munich on invitation by the BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt.
The last two Think Tank Dialogues, held in Singapore (2005) and Berlin (2006) maintained this format. The 2005 Conference had “Community Building in Europe and East Asia: Challenges, Opportunities and Future Prospects” as its theme. It was originally to be held in Denpasar, but due to the preceeding Bali-bombings and upon recommendation of the co-organiser CSIS was transferred to Singapore. The Berlin Dialogue dealt with the topic of strengthening regional and inter-regional cooperation in responding to rising extremism and resurging nationalism.
This year’s EU-East Asian Think Tank Dialogue Conference is due to be held in Tokyo for the first time, jointly organized with the Japan Centre of International Exchange (JCIE) and ISDS Philippines. H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the former Foreign Minister of Thailand and ASEAN Secretary General designate will deliver the keynote speech.
Major Topics: (1.) Recent Political Trends and Transitions in East Asia and Europe, (2.) European and East Asian Regionalism at a Crossroads, (3.) Regional Economic Outlook in Europe and East Asia, (4) Energy Security Cooperation in East Asia and Europe.