Brussels, Dec 14 (EFE).- Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez met with the leaders of the Philippines and Vietnam on the sidelines of the first ever EU-Asean summit being held in Brussels on Wednesday to mark the 45th anniversary of relations between the two regional blocs.
Sanchez met first with Vietnamese prime minister Pham Minh Chinh to discuss ways to strengthen their nations’ bilateral relationship.
Vietnam has become increasingly important for Sanchez and provides opportunities for Spanish companies in a variety of sectors, including renewable energy, security and defense, infrastructure and tourism.
Sanchez also met with Filipino president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, after which he said the two countries’ governments would continue to strengthen their relations in economic, trade, tourism and development cooperation.
At the opening ceremony of the summit, the first to be held between the leaders of the two regional organizations, Indonesian president Joko Widodo urged the EU to treat Southeast Asian countries with “equality” without imposing its views on them to improve relations.
“If we want to build a better partnership, it should be based on equality, there should be no imposition of views, there should be no one dictating to the other and thinking that their standard is better than the other,” Widodo said in Brussels.
The Indonesian president acknowledged that both the EU and Asean have faced many challenges and that their relations have achieved results, but said their partnership “is not a bed of roses.”
“There are many differences that we need to address,” he said.
Widodo emphasized that in recent decades, Southeast Asia “has become an economic engine, epicenter of growth,” adding that “partnership with Asean is beneficial.”
“Joint growth is the only option for prosperity, we have to move forward hand in hand, together and on an equal footing to shape a better future for all,” he said.
EU and Asean leaders are expected to issue a joint declaration expressing their unity and cooperation in defending multilateralism and their interest in advancing connectivity and trade relations. EFE