In his book ‘Monsoon’, American geostrategic author Robert D Kaplan contends that:
“The map of Europe defined the twentieth century…the Greater Indian Ocean…may comprise a map as iconic to the new century as Europe was to the last one”
Geographically, there are three obvious places to look for European-Asian contact and cooperation. The Eurasian landmass had plenty of attention so far, and the polar cap is starting to attract more interest as the ice melts on the ‘Northern Sea Route’. But maybe it is time the Indian Ocean got its share of scrutiny. After all, the Indian Ocean sees the vast majority of trade passing between the two regions – at least until the ice melts back much further. Any threat to shipping in these lanes is clearly a shared security interest of European and Asian economies.
When it comes to tackling modern piracy, Asian countries potentially have a lot to teach their European partners. Japan’s PM Koizumi organised a major multilateral action in this sphere – the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia or ‘ReCAAP’ protecting ASEAN SLOCs against the piracy threat. Partly due to this initiative, piracy is no longer a serious problem in that region. Continue reading