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  • [Translate to English:] Benigno Aquino III.<br />(Foto: Körber-Stiftung /<br />Marc Darchinger)

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    Benigno S. Aquino, President of the Philippines, visited Berlin

    Upon invitation of the Asia Pacific Committee of German Business and the Körber Foundation, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III delivered a speech in Berlin on September 19. One of the issues addressed was economic cooperation with Germany and Europe.

    On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Republic of the Philippines, the head of state Benigno Aquino III visited Berlin on September 19th. Klaus Wehmeier, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of the Körber Foundation, welcomed President Aquino, highlighting that for over 50 years the Körber Foundation has promoted international understanding and that it has shifted the current focus of its work in the field of international affairs to the Asian region. Over the recent period the tensions in the South China Sea have become a theme which Europe also needs to address, despite its own crises. The issue at stake is the freedom of trade routes and security on the world’s seas.

    Hubert Lienhard, Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business also welcomed the President of the Philippines, pointing to the 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. According to Lienhard, in future, any company that fails to have a presence in Asia will lose in importance. The task is to utilise the Asian growth market, without weakening the German business location. That is why a mutual exchange between Germany and the Philippines is necessary. This will guarantee partnership, equality and the sustained development of relations between the two countries.

    Benigno Aquino III began his speech with a look back at history. In 1887 the book Noli Me Tangere from the Philippine Jose Rizal was printed in Berlin. His later execution at the hands of the Spanish colonial rulers was the spark that led to the independence of the Philippines. This resulted in the first democratic and constitutional republic in Asia, where the struggle against poverty and corruption and for the cause of justice is an integral part of today’s governance. The rule of law is an important expression of lived values and aims. With respect to resolving the conflict in the South China Sea the rational presentation of the arguments before an impartial judge is required. A peaceful solution must be found in accordance with the spirit of international law.

    On the domestic front the Philippines has made decisive progress through a range of aid programmes. The educational system and professional training has been improved and technological developments offer more protection from natural catastrophes. With economic growth of over seven percent, the country now receives a far more favourable assessment from international rating agencies. According to Aquino the upturn in the Philippines is in full swing, however common values still need to be cultivated in order to create a world in which no one is left behind.

    In conclusion to his speech, Thomas Paulsen, Head of the Department of International Affairs at the Körber Foundation asked the Philippine President how he achieved the balance between security and economic questions with respect to China. Aquino replied that he also had the well-being of his people in mind when addressing this issue. Multilateral solutions on the basis of international law must be found in order to address territorial claims. A total of six countries have raised claims in the South China Sea.

    In answer to Paulsen’s question whether he was worried about Islamic extremism spreading in his country, President Aquino replied that up until now there had not been any suicide attacks. A framework agreement has been concluded with the Islamic Liberation front (MILF) granting the organisation a role in the interim period before elections. A public statement was made guaranteeing that no support would be given to the Islamic State (IS).

    With this event the Körber Foundation has continued its dialogue with Asian leaders which has included meetings with the Chinese President Xi and the President of Myanmar, U Thein Sein. The meeting in Berlin was a cooperation between the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business and the Philippine Embassy.

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