Following is the full text of the Opening Statment delivered by State Counsellor at the 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
• It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to Nay Pyi Taw.
• Myanmar is honoured to host the 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. This is a dialogue mechanism unique in the multilateral arenas that allows Asia and Europe to engage informally.
• As we are all aware our world has never been free from crises arising from multiple causes. Today we are faced with a new period of global uncertainty and instability. 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. Conflicts take away peace from societies, leaving behind underdevelopment and poverty, pushing peoples and even countries away from one another.
• These challenges have been compounded by the devastating effects of natural disasters which have become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change and lack of adequate concern and care for the environment.
• The history of numerous countries, including that of Myanmar, illustrates that conflict and instability cast a long and lasting shadow on a country’s development. Without peace, there can be no durable progress and prosperity. Peace is essential for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
• 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.
• In our ASEM context, there is a vital need for new and stronger partnerships 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. It is for this reason that we have proposed as the theme of this Meeting: ‘Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Sustainable Development’.
• In the past two decades of ASEM’s journey our partnership, based on the cardinal principles of equal collaboration and mutual respect, proved its vitality by enabling ASEM to withstand repeated and varied crises. We must continue to nurture this 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.
• ASEM is gathered here today to reiterate our commitment to accomplish the tasks entrusted by the Heads of State and Government of 51 nations and leaders of two organizations who resolved to work together to promote further connectivity, partnership and cooperation between Asia and Europe at the last Summit held in Ulaanbaatar in 2016.
• Today, there will be two sessions of Plenary Meetings. In the first session, the emphasis will be on the maintenance and promotion of peace and the sustainable development under the heading of “Synergizing Peace and Sustainable Development”.
• The subject of the 2nd Plenary Meeting will be “3rd Decade of ASEM: Making ASEM Partnership more Dynamic and Connected” – there we will explore possible ways of enhancing ASEM’s efficiency and connectivity for the third decade.
• The ASEM mechanism provides a unique opportunity for policy makers of Asia and Europe to exchange informally views, share best practices and explore the best ways and means of addressing the challenges of global affairs.
• In accordance with the usual ASEM practice, we will have a Retreat Session tomorrow, keeping the whole morning for a free and informal dialogue on International and Regional Issues. For that meeting I would like to propose that we focus on the promotion of peace, and address traditional and non-traditional security challenges in Asia and Europe.
• The role of youth is central to all areas of cooperation in our ASEM mechanism, as they will be the inheritors of the consequences of our actions. I am happy that two student representatives of ASEF’s “8th Model ASEM” will also be delivering speeches at this opening ceremony. I congratulate ASEF for their relentless efforts in bringing the two continents together by enhancing cultural, educational and people-to-people contact.
• In conclusion, may I express the hope that our meetings today and tomorrow, will provide opportunities for all of us to reflect on progress made and to explore future avenues for the enhancement of political, economic and socio-cultural engagement in line with the three pillars of ASEM cooperation.