Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EU helping defuse tension in disputed seas

The European Union is taking a strong but low-key role in helping defuse tensions in the West Philippine Sea even as it voices optimism that a full-scale armed confrontation in the region is a remote possibility, officials of EU said.

“The EU is very concerned. It’s a question of freedom of navigation and trade flows. We do have a stake in that part of the world,” a senior EU official closely following developments in the region said.

“We can be more effect in diplomatic channels. It’s not only the hard security that matters but also soft security, like through the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum). How can we help out? How can we boost or deliver the message (on maintaining stability)? We need to send a quiet robust signal,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

Officials have reiterated their concern over China’s aggressive moves in the region, which they said not only threaten EU’s estimated 700-billion euro trade passing through the disputed waters but also create animosity among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Recently, China said it had authorized its police in Hainan province to board and take over foreign vessels passing through disputed areas.-The Philippines Star (December 11, 2012 12:00AM)

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