December 13, 2017

13th ASEM FMs’ Meeting kicks off

Peace is essential for achievement of UNSDGs: State Counsellor

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on 20 November. Photo: Reuters
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on 20 November. Photo: Reuters

The 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM FMM13) opened in Myanmar’s capital city of Nay Pyi Taw yesterday, with an opening address by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has stressed the vital need for new and stronger partnership to address far-reaching challenges such as the impact of regional and international conflicts on domestic security and the threat of terrorism and violent extremism in their various forms and manifestations.
“Partnership is crucial for the maintenance and promotion of peace and sustainable development which can only be achieved through collective efforts,” said the State Counsellor.
Conflicts around the world are giving rise to new threats and emergencies; illegal migration, spread of terrorism and violent extremism, social disharmony and even the threat of nuclear war, she said.
“All countries even the developed and powerful have to cope with constraints and difficulties. I believe that if policy makers develop a true understanding of each other’s constraints and difficulties, the process of addressing global problems would become easier and more effective. It is only through mutual understanding that strong bonds of partnership can be forged,” she added.
She also pledged to continue to nurture the partnership and to create new connections– not just between governments, but also across the private sector and civil society and of course, people-to-people.
Themed “Strengthening partnership for peace and sustainable development,” the two-day meeting includes three sessions, during which the ministers discussed measures to enhance cooperation in areas of shared concern, as well as partnerships in implementing sustainable development goals (SDGs), combating climate change, mitigating and managing natural disasters, ensuring food, energy and water resource security, and narrowing development gap.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Asian (ASEAN) Coordinator, Mr. Jose Luis G. Montales, Under Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, said the Philippines is committed to the cause of peace and sustainable development through key priorities and advocacies identified in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. He said the informal nature of ASEM is its biggest strength as it allows for more open and honest exchanges between leaders, policy makers, experts and civil society.
He said it is important for more open dialogue to take place especially in a time where there is more focus on the problems and the negatives than the positives. He said the Philippines will continue to support ASEM and ASEF and it will continue to advocate for the continued balanced treatment of ASEM’s three pillars to realize the full potential of Asian-Europe cooperation. He said the citizens, “our stakeholders,” should be at the center of the efforts of the countries and that ASEM should be more inclusive.
Following his opening remarks, Asian (NESA) Coordinator, Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad, Additional Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, said the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent the most ambitious development agenda in history while the development challenge has become more imposing due to the combined constraints of climate change, rising protectionism, fraying international cooperation and conflicts.
He also expressed his hope that a focus on SDGs will increase international cooperation as both the developing and the developed countries would be engaged in a constructive partnership rather than a relationship of dependence based on donor-recipient perspective.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, Vice Chairperson of the European Commission, said she thinks the ASEM is even more important during the present time of great change and challenges where the cooperation of everyone is needed to solve global problems.
Asia has immense potential and great economic strength and there are many issues where Europe’s cooperation and partnership can benefit Asia saying that Asia needs Europe’s help on security, connectivity, nonproliferation and climate change.
She also said that in turn Europe needs Asia as both continents’ securities are connected and the economies can benefit from more exchanges.
The world needs the European Union as a strong, reliable, predictable and cooperative partner, she added.
She said the EU has renewed its commitment to work together as a union for their citizens’ security and prosperity.
EU wants to reform global multilateral institutions as a pillar of prosperity and security for all believing that nuclear proliferation is a danger for everyone and that diplomacy is the only effective way to prevent it, she added.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Estonia Mr. Sven Mikser, European Coordinator, said the ASEM is an irreplaceable forum for free and open discussion between Europe and Asia in times of facilitated globalization as its informal character allows for flexible and open discussions.
He said even though common approaches are not easy to find, they are determined to build more bridges, “both as a figure of speech and also more literally,” he said.
He said two years ago in Luxemborg, in a meeting before the United Nations’ climate change conference in Paris, climate change continues to be a high relevance issue but today there needs to be more focus on new and equally critical topics and challenges. Some examples he gave were the developments in the Korean peninsula, the high numbers of people displaced around the world, issues of sustainable growth and development, the condition of women and children and other more honorable groups especially in times of crises and conflicts.
He said the 2030 agenda is neither modest nor easy, therefore he wishes everyone an open mind and endurance to accomplish the 2 days of discussions to come.
Afterwards, youths representing Asia-Europe Foundation expressed the role of youths in ASEM.—Myanmar News Agency

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