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Europe and Asia share common positions on global issues

Representatives of 46 countries in Europe and Asia, as well as of the EU Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat, gathered in Brussels for the 8th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).Thirty-six heads of state and government were present. Agreement was reached on intensified economic cooperation,and foreign policy issues were also discussed.

The summit participants debated a broad spectrum of urgent current issues, ranging from the impact of the global economic crisis, via the international financial architecture and the situation on the labour markets, to climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism and piracy.

ASEM provides a framework for political, economic and cultural cooperation between Asia and Europe. Currently it comprises the 27 EU member states and the European Commission, the 10 ASEAN member states – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam and the ASEAN Secretariat, as well as the People’s Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia; Russia, Australia and New Zealand were welcomed as new members. The next ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting will take place in 2011 in Hungary, while the next ASEM summit will be held in Laos in 2012.

Hoyer: ASEM is a “unique format”

On the second day of the summit Minister of State Werner Hoyer deputized for Chancellor Merkel. He paid tribute to ASEM as a “unique format” in which equal partners from both Europe and Asia could formulate common positions on global issues.

The ASEM summit was also important, he went on, as a preparatory forum for the G20 Summit on 11 and 12 November in Seoul, South Korea, particularly since smaller Asian and European countries present at the ASEM summit would not be taking part in the Seoul meeting.
Regional conflicts

Regional issues, such as the conflict over the Iranian nuclear programme and the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Myanmar, were also on the summit agenda.

According to State Minister Hoyer three points were highlighted in particular:

During the discussion on the Iranian nuclear programme a clear joint position was visible, he said. The ASEM participants had supported the two-track approach pursued by the E3+3 group, i.e. recognizing Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while at the same time calling on Tehran to cooperate fully with the IAEO and to implement UN Resolution 1929 in its entirety.

Regarding the stabilization of Afghanistan, there was agreement on the international strategy adopted last July by the Kabul Conference. According to Hoyer, the build-up of the Afghan security forces had to be matched by similar progress on national reconciliation.

On the issue of Myanmar, too, clear language was used in the summit document, which also mentioned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by name. The Federal Government had constantly called for her release, and now welcomed the fact “that her participation in Myanmar politics and society has been demanded”.

Dialogue between religious communities

In State Minister Hoyer’s view one of the highlights of the summit was a discussion about promoting dialogue between countries belonging to different religious communities.

In an intervention, he said, the Malaysian Prime Minister had suggested the creation of an “alliance of moderates” with the aim of overcoming the mutual silence since the “cartoons controversy”. This suggestion had been highly positively received by other summit participants.

- Summit documents of the 8th ASEM in Brussels

- Information on the ASEM summit is available at www.bundesregierung.de

- EU-Asia-Pacific relations

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