A better future together for Malaysia and the EU


Photo: European Union Delegation to Malaysia

AS readers living in Kuala Lumpur may have noticed last night, the KL Tower was illuminated in blue light with yellow stars (pic above). This is because yesterday – May 9, 2021 – we celebrated Europe Day, the birth of what has become today the European Union.

The illumination depicted the EU’s flag: blue with 12 yellow stars that stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe.

Kuala Lumpur is famous all over the world for its skyline filled with towers and high-rise buildings. They reflect this country’s ambition, harmony and strength, a perfect complement to this celebration. The images were broadcasted around the world, a powerful message of our partnership.

On this day 71 years ago, the Foreign Minister of France, Robert Schuman, launched a political initiative for European integration, which has since grown from six to 27 European countries, and it continues to develop every day.

It was born out of necessity after the devastation of the World War II, but it was also a uniquely far-sighted initiative to make war in Europe materially impossible. It has since proven to be an adaptable and resilient model.

Today we – the whole planet – are still facing a grave challenge. More than three million people have already died in the Covid-19 pandemic, and many tens of millions have suffered all over the world. It is a particularly difficult battle for us all because the enemy is invisible.

At the same time, the pandemic has demonstrated how interlinked we all are and how dependent we are on each other. What really gives hope is that in this difficult and dramatic situation we are helping each other: the EU exports Covid-19 vaccines to Malaysia, and Malaysia exports PPE (personal protective equipment) to the EU, even in the middle of the worst of the pandemic.

The EU is not just a fair weather friend and neither is Malaysia. We are interlinked in many other important ways, whether through trade and investment or our commitment to multilateralism and the fight against climate change or the fight against cyber and hybrid threats.

Against this backdrop, the 27 EU foreign ministers decided on April 19,2021, to launch the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. The new strategy is a confirmation of the EU’s political commitment to the region. It sets out the EU’s intention to reinforce its strategic focus, presence and actions in this region of prime strategic importance.

The aim is to contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.

The EU will work together with its partners in the Indo-Pacific to respond to emerging dynamics that are affecting regional stability and security. We will intensify work together in addressing such issues as ocean governance, human rights, the sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity, as well as the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.

This new policy initiative will be discussed intensely in the coming months with a view to have a fully-fledged strategy by September. Meanwhile, I shall be busy engaging with our Malaysian partners to gain the best possible understanding of how they see cooperation between Malaysia and the EU – and Asean and the EU – developing.

This year’s theme for Europe Day is “a better future together”. Our new strategy is precisely for this purpose: more cooperation for a better future together.

On a birthday, you want to see your family and friends but alas this year the Covid-19 restrictions have made this impossible. In this situation, I thought of the illumination of the KL Tower as a heartfelt thank you to our Malaysian friends and as an opportunity to shine a light for us all.

MICHALIS ROKAS

Ambassador, European Union Delegation to Malaysia

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