President Marcos Jr.’s Visit to Germany to Strengthen Defense Ties

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s visit to Germany from March 11 to 13 is expected to further strengthen defense cooperation between Manila and Berlin in the face of China’s assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea, according to Consul General Maria Yvette “Ivy” Banzon-Abalos of the Philippine Consulate General in Frankfurt. This visit comes at a crucial time as tensions between the Philippines and China continue to escalate due to conflicting territorial claims and accusations of aggressive behavior in the strategic waterway.

In an interview, Banzon-Abalos highlighted the existing agreement between the two countries for Germany to enhance the Philippine Coast Guard’s capability in securing the country’s coastline. She emphasized that Germany is already providing assistance, and the President’s visit will further strengthen this cooperation. The visit presents an opportune time to discuss pressing issues of common concern that affect both countries.

During her visit to Manila in January, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed her government’s readiness to work with the Philippines in promoting international law and strengthening maritime security to prevent a crisis in the West Philippine Sea. Baerbock criticized China’s claims for extensive maritime areas and its harassment of Filipino vessels in the region. She emphasized that these actions not only affect the Philippines but also have implications for Europe and the global economy.

China’s claims over nearly the entire South China Sea, which infringe upon the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, have been a source of contention. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China’s claims had no legal basis. However, China has rejected this ruling, leading to ongoing tensions in the region. The President’s visit to Germany provides an opportunity to discuss these territorial disputes and seek support for upholding international law.

Aside from defense cooperation, Banzon-Abalos also mentioned Germany’s interest in hiring Filipino nurses and other skilled workers, such as engineers and those in the hospitality industry. Germany has recently relaxed its labor laws due to a shortage of workers, creating opportunities for Filipinos to fill these gaps. This presents a positive outlook for Filipino workers seeking employment in Germany.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Germany have spanned 69 years since their establishment in 1954. This year, the two countries are set to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations. The visit of President Marcos Jr. to Germany not only strengthens defense cooperation but also signifies the enduring partnership between the two nations.

In terms of trade, Germany is an important partner for the Philippines. Total trade between the two countries reached $3.91 billion, with exports valued at $2.28 billion and imports at $1.63 billion. In 2022, Germany ranked as the Philippines’ 12th biggest trading partner, 10th biggest export market, and 15th biggest supplier. This highlights the economic ties between the two nations, which continue to grow and contribute to mutual prosperity.

As tensions in the South China Sea persist, the visit of President Marcos Jr. to Germany holds significant importance in strengthening defense cooperation and addressing pressing issues affecting both countries. It is an opportunity to foster dialogue, seek support for upholding international law, and explore avenues for economic collaboration. The enduring partnership between the Philippines and Germany, built over 70 years of diplomatic relations, serves as a solid foundation for further cooperation in the face of regional challenges.

Source: The Manila Times

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