Marcos holds bilateral meeting with 4 European leaders

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos holds bilateral meeting with 4 European leaders
Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks during a press conference during the EU-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) summit at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on December 14, 2022. EU leaders meet their counterparts from Southeast Asia for a summit in Brussels on Wednesday, looking to bolster ties in the face of the war in Ukraine and challenges from China.

BRUSSELS – President Marcos held bilateral meetings with four European leaders on the last day of his visit here in line with his goal to forge more partnerships to help the Philippines cope with post-pandemic challenges.

Marcos met with Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Spain President Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, and Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas separately yesterday on the sidelines of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit.

In his meeting with Fiala, Marcos pushed for defense technology transfer, noting that it is part of his administration’s support for the modernization of the military and the coast guard.

“It’s something that has been very helpful to the program of modernization that we are undergoing for defense forces in the Philippines especially now that... we are trying to strengthen the capabilities of our Coast Guard,” the President said.

“But what would be even more interesting is besides just the equipment, would be the transfer of technology from your country to mine so that you are able to produce (in our own country) some of the material that is now being provided by other countries and perhaps use… make the Philippines a center for all that, the logistics,” he added.

Marcos and Rutte also agreed to enhance the relationship of the Philippines and Netherlands in defense and water management. Rutte said Marcos is welcome to join two conferences on artificial intelligence and water management in the Netherlands next year. The European country is hosting a conference on the role of artificial intelligence in the military domain in February 2023.

Marcos cited the role of cybersecurity in protecting military networks against cyberattacks. “The cybersecurity part of our military is growing every day,” he said.

Rutte said the Netherlands is also hosting a conference on water management and climate change adaptation in March.

“We are two counties who run a risk or two with rising sea levels and climate change,” the Dutch leader said.

Marcos said the events would be “very useful” for the Philippines, a country that is vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

“We are actually trying to decide whether or not to form a new agency just for water management. That seems to be right exactly within the area of concern of the Philippines,” he said.

“I tell our locals, (the) local executives, every urban and large municipality in the Philippines has a water problem whether they know it or not.”

Support for BARMM

In his bilateral meeting with Marcos, Spanish President Pérez-Castejón said his country is ready to provide “institutional support” and assistance to “strengthen the dialogue” in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Castejón said the Philippines is a “priority country” for Spain’s assistance programs, including those that promote lasting peace in Mindanao.

“The Spanish cooperation in Muslim Mindanao… especially this region, (the) Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, (is) where we try to provide institutional support and strengthen the dialogue,” the Spanish president added.

Marcos recalled his efforts to create an autonomous political entity in Mindanao when he was a senator.

“The most important lesson that they (Spanish experts) taught (us) was to make sure that... the curriculum in the autonomous region schools is the same as the rest,” he said.

“Because if you teach different things to those kids, then they think we’re not the same as the rest of the Philippines... and we took to that lesson very closely, and it was good advice,” Marcos added.

Marcos and Castejón vowed to enhance Manila and Madrid’s bilateral relations, noting the “very strong and historic ties” between the two countries.

BBM back in Phl

The President arrived yesterday from his three-day visit to Belgium, saying his trip was “successful” and would open opportunities for Filipinos.

Flight PR 001, the plane that carried Marcos and his delegation, landed on the Villamor Airbase at 6:58 p.m.

“I am delighted that my first  visit to Europe, in Brussels in particular, which has the seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, and the European Council, is a successful one  and I can see how the outcomes of my visit would generate opportunities for the benefit of the Filipino people,” the President said in his arrival statement.

“I feel that we... have laid (a) fertile groundwork on which we can plant the seeds of these new partnerships that we have spoken about with our friends and our partners in Europe,” he added.

Marcos said his trip allowed him to interact with Filipinos based in Belgium, and other European countries including Italy, Poland, and Germany.

“It was a very fulfilling event as I was able to personally thank them for their support.  I was also able to hear their concerns and update them on the priorities of this administration,” the President said.

Marcos, however, admitted that his trip had one “downside.”

The only downside was it was embarrassing because your President was squeaking. But they said they understood,” he said in Filipino.

The President caught a cold in Brussels after two days of below freezing temperature.

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