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Address by External Affairs Minister at the 9th ASEM Summit Plenary Session V: Future Direction of ASEM

November 06, 2012

Mr. Chairman,

We have deliberated over the last two days on a number of pressing issues that not only affect our two continents but also the entire world. Our discussions touched on diverse challenges and ways to address them on a range of issues including the changing politico-security and global economic environment, slower economic growth across Continents, the scourge of global terrorism, illicit narcotics drug trafficking, urgency to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth, and the imperative of human resource development.

The one thing that seems to run consistently through our deliberations is that the future destinities of Europe and Asia are connected. We also beleive that ASEM is today at a significant crossroads. We need to come together to address these issues.

ASEM, Excellencies, today needs to orient itself definitively in a direction that faciltates, accelerates and makes possible such cooperation. This, to my mind, is perhaps the most relevant issue on the agenda of ASEM, i.e. "The Future Direction of ASEM".

Since our participation in ASEM in 2007, we have valued the Forum as an unique inter-continental connect between Asia and Europe. It has brought together key partners in Asia and Europe to deliberate on global issues of concern and identify specific areas for cooperation with developmental implications, which could assist growth in our countries.

The USP of ASEM is that it is a dialogue forum with capacity to discuss all issues of concern. Its strength lies in the fact that within its membership it includes the capacity to find necessary resources of intellect, knowledge, innovation, technology, best practices and all instruments necessary to meet challenges.

We perhaps need to accelerate its evolution towards making ASEM the inter-Continental bridge that it was meant to be, bringing together the strengths and capacities across our countries to contribute to global growth and development, peace and stabilty. We have been supporting such an approach since Godollo in particular.

We need to strengthen ASEM in this direction in each of its three pillars of cooperation i.e. political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation.

Over the last few years, there has been an intuitive movement towards identification and implementation of concrete cooperation in areas where Europe and Asia can assist each other. As we do so, we must certainly retain ASEM's informality and its main function as a dialogue forum, but at the same time, also profile concrete functional projects to enhance ASEM's relevance.

We see ASEM as having unique capacity to bring about greater focus on areas of relevance for developing countries and emerging markets. It can also make the global framework for economic governance more effective, given its varied participation consisting of emerging market economies, developed and developing countries. It is here that ASEM as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe remains fundamentally relevant and can add substantive value.

There is considerable scope for cooperation and sharing of best practices, systems and technology between Europe and Asia. ASEM needs to develop as the bridge – a bridge for development, growth and the building of capacities; a bridge for bringing together expertise to tackle common challenges; a bridge of resources and ideas; a bridge founded on making connections between the people of EU and Asia.

I am confident that ASEM members would join and participate in the initiative proposed by China, Lao PDR, Poland and India to hold a Conference on the Future of ASEM next year. India stands ready to work with ASEM partners on this important agenda. I take this opprotunity to invite the Foreign Ministers of ASEM to next meeting of ASEM FMM to be held in India from 14 to 15 November. We also look forward to your cooperation and partnership as we prepare to host the next ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting.

Thank you.

November 6, 2012


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