“A Struggling Geopolitical Animal”: EU Should Mimic ASEAN in North Africa

Written by | Monday, August 7th, 2017

The European Union should address its inability to use economic development to its advantage in managing the migration crisis in Mediterranean by looking at the ASEAN model – this is an proposal put forward by the respected Singaporean academic and former diplomat, Professor Kishore Mahbubani of the Lee Kuan Yew Public Policy School at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Calling the EU “a struggling geopolitical animal”. Mr. Mahbubani also urged Brussels to focus on creating well-functioning economies especially in North Africa. In his opinion, should the EU fail at this task, the crisis would further exacerbate and result in more deaths of migrants and refugees in Mediterranean waters.

“By 2100, Africa’s population will be 10 times that of Europe and this (Mediterranean migration crisis) is going to be a huge existential crisis. The answer to this challenge lies in ASEAN,” professor Mahbubani has said. “To promote development in North Africa, look at the region that has fared well in economic development. Imagine a North Africa that looks like ASEAN. Engaging ASEAN and using it as the vehicle to transform North Africa is your passport to long-term security and stability,” he said at the Asia-Europe Conference 2017 during a keynote session titled ‘The Current Geo-strategic Case for Closer Asia-Europe Engagement’.

Prof. Mahbubani also recognized that the ASEAN region does not know inter-state conflict nowadays, yet he thinks that the ASEAN could also learn from the EU’s techniques. “ASEAN should declare it as a goal that it wants to copy EU in having zero prospect of war. ASEAN is a very much a government-to-government project and the people lack a sense of ownership of this regional organization,” he said, suggesting that ASEAN should mimic EU’s programs that encourage regional cooperation such as the Erasmus student exchange programs.

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