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The EU as a Security Actor in Southeast Asia

Introduction by Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, Director, EU Centre in Singapore to “Security Politics in Asia and Europe”, a “Panorama: Insights into Asian and European Affairs (02/2009)” series of papers published by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.

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Dr Yeo Lay Hwee’s contribution provides the introductory framework to consider security politics in Asia and Europe. The paper traces how the EU’s relationship with ASEAN grew from a primarily economic and political partnership to one that encompasses security elements. Particularly from 2003 onwards, the EU made clear its intent to engage ASEAN more strategically. For the first time, a common fight against terrorism and non-traditional security issues emerged in discourse as among EU priorities in its affairs with Southeast Asia. The paper assesses the prospects and challenges for a “comprehensive” security partnership to be realised between the regions. It suggests that obstacles remain; among them, fundamentally differing views of security; with the EU subscribing to a “human security” doctrine and ASEAN still in favour of a more state-centric concept of security. The paper examines in detail the innovations of the Lisbon Treaty and ongoing reforms within EU security and defence policy, and how these could enhance, or not, its ambition to be a strategic security player in this region.

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