Other available languages: none
Over the last two days we have had substantial discussions on the most pressing issues of our agenda. In reviewing our cooperation we made good progress on the three pillars of ASEM (economy, political and socio-cultural fields). We also discussed the future of ASEM.
Let me briefly go through the most relevant items:
On economy we have reaffirmed our common objective to ensure a strong, sustainable and inclusive growth within ASEM partners and in the world economy.
Leaders of the EU and its Member States have explained the substantial efforts they have undertaken to restore their financial stability and to stimulate growth and jobs. Work has concentrated on four building blocks – banking, fiscal, economic and appropriate democratic control – to bring the architecture of the Economic and Monetary Union on a sound and stable footing.
I wish to underline here, once again, that the Eurozone is on the right track. The euro is an irreversible project. It is expected that growth will start picking up in the course of 2013.
But in a closely interlinked world – where growth is a collective, a global responsibility - we have all agreed that each of us - in Europe as well as in Asia - should do its part to put the economy back on track of sustainable growth. Experience from Asian partners in the handling of economic and financial crises is certainly welcome, as we can and should all learn from each other.
We reaffirmed our strong cooperation in the G-20:
On trade we stressed the importance of keeping our markets open to trade and investments, and to refrain from protectionism. Our trade represents already a formidable engine for strengthening the relations between Europe and Asia. The EU is negotiating free trade agreements with many Asian countries to further expand our markets; it is also open to negotiate investment agreements to boost cooperation and to create a level playing field.
We welcomed the recent accession to the WTO of two of our ASEM partners, a further sign of the commitment of ASEM member to the multilateral trade system.
On global issues we reaffirmed our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in the path towards poverty eradication, and to advance towards equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth. The EU, today's most important development donor, remains committed to continue playing a leading role.
Europe and Asia are also strengthening cooperation in tackling climate change. The operationalization of the potential of the green economy will be a key ingredient. We must ensure that the Climate Conference in Doha becomes another important step towards the 2015 global agreement.
We also stressed that more cooperation in non-proliferation and disarmament issues is needed, including in the area of capacity building to cope with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear risks, natural and accidental disasters. Following the terrible accident in one of our Members we agreed that Nuclear safety requires our outmost attention as well. We resolved also to cooperate more on the explosive remnants of war, including unexploded ordnance.
We have had an intense exchange of views on the most critical issues in our regions. We reaffirmed our strong support for the efforts of Joint Special Representative Brahimi in Syria. The priority remains to stop the killings immediately and to work towards a peaceful and inclusive solution to this dramatic crisis, taking into account the legitimate, democratic aspirations of all Syrians. We reiterated our support for the Two-State solution in the Middle-East Peace Process. We also urged Iran to fulfil its international obligations and to restore international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. On Afghanistan, we expressed support for the national peace and reconciliation process and for reconstruction efforts. We also expressed support and encouraged further positive developments in Myanmar. We expressed support for ASEAN's remarkable achievements and its contribution to the development of the pan-Asian security architecture.
Finally, we had a forward looking exchange on how to strengthen people to people, cultural and social links between Europe and Asia. The successful outcomes of the ASEM Parliamentary Meeting, the Labour and Employment Ministerial, together with the initiatives to promote human rights, and ASEM cultural ministerial, were of particular importance to frame our debate on the development of people to people dialogue.
As regards the future of ASEM, interesting initiatives and ideas have been presented. An important programme of work for the coming two years has been outlined. Challenges in the run-up to our next rendez - vous will continue to be pressing in order to adapt ASEM to the new developments, particularly in the area of working methods and institutional mechanisms. The role of ASEF was strongly supported.
I would like to assure you all of the full backing and commitment of the European Union to an open, inclusive and transparent Asia-Europe Meeting process going forward. Indeed, I am pleased to invite you to Brussels in 2014, for the 10th ASEM Summit, which will be hosted by the European Union. I am looking forward to welcoming you there.
But before bidding farewell, I am sure that I can speak on behalf of all of us in extending our sincere appreciation to you Prime Minister Thammavong and your team. You and your country can be proud, not only for excellent preparation and hospitality you have provided to all of us, but also for the friendship we have experienced around this table, in this beautiful city and country - I am taking back with me fond and rich memories.