December 16, 2022
MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. asked the European Union to help “effectively apply” the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and ease maritime disputes and geopolitical rivalry in the Indo-Pacific region.
In his speech during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-EU Commemorative Summit here, the President called for “closer maritime cooperation” between the Asean and EU.
“Beyond declaring respect and support for Unclos… we need to see an effective application of the Unclos to address the maritime disputes and geopolitical rivalry in the Indo-Pacific,” he told Asean and European leaders on Wednesday.
In a press conference at the conclusion of the three-day summit here, Mr. Marcos said the “strategic support” of the EU would help Asean enforce maritime laws in the South China Sea and put Asean, and the Philippines, in “a very, very strong position” to negotiate maritime disputes.
“Every action that might be taken that objects or brings a light to a possible violation of the Unclos is much stronger when it is brought about by a group of nations such as Asean. If the EU, now with our strategic partnership, is able to also join their voices to that, then that will be much stronger into terms of actually being able to enforce what Unclos is all about,” he said.
Asked about the apparent competition between the United States and China in the Asean region, Mr. Marcos said the Philippines has taken an independent foreign policy.
“Believe me, we would rather not have these tensions in our part of the world. That is the last thing that we would like,” he said.
‘We absolutely refuse to go back to the situation of the Cold War where we have to pick sides in terms of who the superpower is that we are aligned with,” he added.
In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the Asean and EU member states reaffirmed the importance of peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in and above the South China Sea, in accordance with international law, including Unclos.