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Second CSCAP EU Committee meeting

07 November 2014

Maritime territorial disputes are probably the greatest sources of tension in Asia. Despite some common characteristics, each dispute is unique in terms of the actors involved, the economic and political interests at stake, and the assertiveness of policies employed. More than being just conflicts over the interpretation of international law or implementation of maritime policies, sovereignty disputes at sea mirror the complex historical legacies, domestic political trends, as well as changing power dynamics in the region. Given the economic and strategic importance of the region, it is essential to explore all avenues to prevent or contain any possible escalation. Joint resource management, whether fish or hydrocarbon reserves, should constitute the most natural basis for cooperation, as has been demonstrated in the European context and in the Arctic. What are the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the current disputes? And under what possible framework? Could cooperation at sea ultimately become a stabilising force of regional relations? And what could Europe do?