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This Friday, February 2, 2024, the third edition of the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum will be held in Brussels. The Forum, organized by Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, is part of the implementation of the European Union's (EU) strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, adopted in autumn 2021. Fully endorsing this strategy, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU will actively contribute to the rapprochement with the Indo-Pacific by organizing a high-level lunch to facilitate contacts between ministers from both regions. The Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hadja Lahbib, will also deliver a keynote speech.
"The European Union and the countries of the Indo-Pacific share the same desire for development and prosperity for their populations. Faced with global challenges - security, economic, environmental and social - the response can only be global", declares Hadja Lahbib.
The forum is a genuine platform for dialogue and cooperation, and brings together the foreign ministers of the 27 EU member states, representatives of two European institutions and four regional organizations, as well as over 50 countries from the Indo-Pacific region. A region stretching from the eastern and southern coasts of Africa to the island states of the Pacific Ocean, via the Arabian Peninsula and Asia. Bringing together a total of nearly eighty delegations, the Brussels Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum promises to be unprecedented in its inclusiveness.
The EU aims to contribute to the stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development of the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with the principles of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and international law. The EU strategy therefore includes concrete actions to strengthen strategic engagement in the region, particularly in terms of inclusive prosperity, green transition, ocean governance, digital governance, connectivity, defense and human security. The EU strategy explicitly advocates an inclusive approach that does not target any particular country.
This Ministerial Forum therefore provides an opportunity to take stock of the current state of cooperation in the above-mentioned areas of action, with a view to strengthening the partnership between the EU and a region home to three-fifths of the world's population and producing 60% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP).
"In just a few years, the Indo-Pacific region has become the new engine of global economic growth. This opens up unprecedented opportunities for Belgian and European companies in forward-looking fields such as clean energies - particularly green hydrogen - or the digital sector. We will also continue to invest in the education and healthcare sectors, in particular to guarantee our sovereignty in terms of vaccines and medicines", adds Hadja Lahbib.
The opening and closing sessions can be followed online. In addition, three thematic roundtables will be held in parallel on geopolitical and security challenges in the region, economic resilience and investment, and green transition.
The Forum will close with a high-level luncheon hosted by Minister Lahbib on behalf of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council, in the presence of HRH Princess Astrid. Like the many economic missions the Princess has led for Belgium in the Indo-Pacific, this luncheon will be an excellent opportunity to deepen and develop new ties with representatives of countries in a strategic region for the EU and Belgium.
"Our roadmap for strengthening our EU/Indopacific cooperation is ambitious. We want to face the challenges of today and tomorrow together, with the strength of our diversity, which also represents our wealth, and with mutual respect. We will continue to move forward together. This Forum is an essential milestone on that road", concludes Hadja Lahbib.
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