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Mogherini on the EU's Security Role in Asia

7 June 2019

Federica Mogherini outlined the EU’s growing security role in Asia at the Shangri-La dialogue on 1 June. She said that the EU’s ambition was not only to be the key economic partner for Asia, but also to become a security partner. She said that Asian partners were showing a constantly growing interest in closer and deeper cooperation with the EU on security issues; from counter terrorism to maritime security.

The EU had military-to-military talks with eleven Asian countries and there were a growing number of military advisors in the EU delegations. A number of Asian partners had also signed agreements to participate in CSDP missions. Many had contributed to Operation Atalanta, fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia. The EU had supported peace negotiations in Myanmar and in the Philippines; and recently put forward a five-point plan to facilitate peace talks in Afghanistan.

On North Korea, Mogherini said that there was no military solution, only a political and diplomatic agreement based on the complete, verifiable and irreversible de-nuclearisation of the DPRK. She praised President Moon for his leadership and courage, and the US for its engagement in Singapore and Hanoi. It was unrealistic to expect negotiations of this kind to be concluded smoothly in four months. It was necessary to identify the issues where the US and North Korea are getting closer, and those where there is still lot of work to be done. 

Mogherini urged North Korea to engage again in good faith. As the Inter-Korean talks and the US-North Korea talks were linked to one another, ‘they both advance only if they advance in parallel.’ She proposed that a group of facilitators might be useful to break the impasse, and to guarantee that any obstacle would not derail both processes. China, Japan and Russia all had an interest in the outcome as did the EU which was ready to do its part as it had considerable expertise in nuclear negotiations. ‘We know the importance of a strong monitoring and verification system – and we can help shape it. We could also put on the table of negotiations our financial support, both as leverage and as a contribution to "winning the peace" if and when a deal is finally reached’.

Meanwhile, the EU would continue putting pressure on North Korea and would lobby other countries to maintain the UN sanctions regime. The sanctions were a means to a goal, and not a goal in themselves. The sanctions would go when a deal was reached and implemented. Any deal would require a strong multilateral process and ‘it might be necessary to give some security guarantees to North Korea.’ The EU’s own experience could be helpful in creating a new regional security architecture.

Mogherini said that the EU’s overall approach to North Korea was ‘critical engagement’ but some observers have pointed to the lack of political engagement in recent years.

The High Representative will be returning to the region in August for the ASEAN Regional Forum when she will have another opportunity to sell her message of the EU and Asia as security partners.