7 Aug 2018

EU backs NZ's renewed approach in Pacific

8:50 pm on 7 August 2018

The European Union has expressed enthusiasm and support for the government's renewed approach in the Pacific.

Federica Mogherini and Winston Peters.

Federica Mogherini and Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ / Gia Garrick

The bloc's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, is in New Zealand for a series of meetings, including seperate sit-downs with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today.

During talks with Mr Peters, Ms Mogherini expressed a mutual desire to see issues of international security, sustainable development and climate change addressed.

"We decided today to increase our cooperation in a certain number of areas. Namely security cooperation, but also our work in the Pacific," she said.

"We welcome the approach that New Zealand has developed on the Pacific and we are ready to cooperate very closely with New Zealand in this area."

Ms Mogherini said the EU and New Zealand shared a desire to address climate change head on, particularly its link to security.

"It's something we both recognise as a priority, and there's not many others in the world that take that approach," she said.

Put together, the EU and New Zealand had "by far" the largest development cooperation budgets in the Pacific.

"We do a lot in the Pacific, as New Zealand does, and doing things together might amplify the impact of what we do."

Ms Ardern said they were certainly taking every opportunity they could to raise the profile of issues facing the Pacific on the global stage.

"Yes we have a responsibility and a role as members of the Pacific to do our part, which is what the Pacific Reset was about. But at the same time we do certainly see a role with our like-minded partners, working in cooperation in the region," she said.

North Korea and free trade were also high on the agenda in talks between Ms Mogherini and Mr Peters.

The EU has just concluded a free trade agreement with Japan and another with Canada. Ms Mogherini said New Zealand and Australian deals were next.

"It is a top priority for us. That would be beneficial for our respective economies and for the overall trade environment in the world."

And Ms Mogherini said the EU and New Zealand shared the same sense of urgency when it came to sustaining diplomatic efforts aimed at the full de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and also the reconciliation between the South and the North.

"New Zealand has a very solid and consilidated position when it comes to nuclear-related issues, and we have discussed ways in which we can accompany this process, which for the moment is in two parts.

"US DPRK talks on de-nuclearisation that will need to be supported with a multi-lateral framework, and also the inter-Korean dialogue on reconciliation.

"I believe New Zealand and the European Union together can accompany the two Koreas on this path that is extremely courageous and extremely important for all of us."