The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
March 8, 2017
- The idea of the Asia-Europe Meeting was initially brought up by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Goh Chok Tong, at the third Europe/East Asia Economic Summit, with the aim of strengthening Asia-Europe relations. Supported by France, which occupied the EC Presidency at the time, and which promoted the idea among European Union member states, an epoch-making "Asia-Europe Meeting" was held in Bangkok, Thailand in March 1996. The leaders from 25 countries of Asia and Europe as well as the European Commission attended the First Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM1). ASEM1 marked the start of a new forum which facilitates dicussion between Asia and Europe as two major regions undergoing dynamic changes and development in the post-cold war world.
ASEAN member countries and the EU were already having ministerial dialogues at the time. However, the participation of Japan, China and Korea on the Asian side meant that ten Asian countries and Europe (15 countries and European Commission) started to have regular summit meetings.
- In April 1998, the Second Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM2) was held in London, United Kingdom, where the leaders discussed the Asian economic situation and had political dialogues on regional and international developments. They discussed the Asian and European responses and cooperation with regard to the Asian financial crisis, and issued the statement "The Financial and Economic Situation in Asia". They also considered ASEM's significance from medium and long-term viewpoints and adopted the "Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework (AECF)", which comprised the principle framework for ASEM activities. The "Vision Group" to discuss ASEM's future orientation was established then.
- In October 2000, Korea hosted the Third Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM3) in Seoul where the leaders reconfirmed their will to strengthen Asia-Europe dialogue and cooperation toward the 21st century. "AECF 2000 (Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework 2000)" which outlined the direction for ASEM in the ensuing ten years, and the "Seoul Declaration for Peace on the Korean Peninsula", which called for better South-North relations, were adopted.
- The Fourth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM4) was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in September 2002. Views on a wide range of issues under the three pillars of ASEM (political, economic, and cultural, & social) were exchanged. Two declarations, the "ASEM Copenhagen Political Declaration for Peace on the Korean Peninsula", and the "ASEM Copenhagen Declaration on Cooperation against International Terrorism" were adopted.
- Vietnam hosted the Fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 5) in Hanoi, in October 2004, where the leaders approved the participation of 13 countries (Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar from the Asian side, and 10 new EU member states from the EU side) in ASEM. They held discussions under the theme "Further Revitalizing and Substantiating the Asia-Europe Partnership"and, in addition to the Chairman's Statement, they adopted the "Hanoi Declaration on a Closer ASEM Economic Partnership" and the "ASEM Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations". Furthermore, the ASEM Task Force for a closer Asia-Europe economic partnership, which had been established by ASEM 4 (its Asian co-chairman being Mr. Toyoo Gyoten, President of the Institute for Monetary Affairs and former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs of Japan) submitted its final recommendations to the leaders.
- In May 2005, Japan hosted the ASEM Seventh Foreign Minister's Meeting (FMM7) in Kyoto, which was the first ministerial meeting after the enlargement of ASEM. At the meeting, Japan led the discussion on the ways to deepen dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe on the global challenges facing the international community, such as the strengthening of multilateralism, sustainable development, and dialogue among cultures and civilizations, and issued the Chairman's Statement summarizing the result of the discussions. At the meeting, the need for the ASEM process to address global issues in a few clearly-defined areas for substantive cooperation was stressed, and strengthening multilateralism, addressing security threats, sustainable development including the environment and energy, as well as dialogue among cultures and civilizations, were identified as such issues. The Ministers also endorsed the initiative by Finland and Japan to commission a report on the 10 years of ASEM, in order to assess the grouping's achievements and critically review its progress towards its tenth anniversary at ASEM6 in 2006. On Japan's initiative it was also decided, taking into consideration the changes in the previous decade, to set up an ASEM Virtual Secretariat to enhance coordination and information sharing among the ASEM partners.
- In preparation for ASEM6, the Japanese and Finnish governments commissioned the Japan Centre for International Exchange (JCIE) and Helsinki University respectively to prepare a report on the 10 years of ASEM. The report was submitted to the ASEM Senior Officials' Meeting in March 2006 and formed the basis for the "Helsinki Declaration of the Future of ASEM" issued at ASEM6 in September 2006. Japan also contributed actively to the development and launch of the ASEM Virtual Secretariat.
- At the Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 6) held in Helsinki, Finland in September 2006, theleaders held discussions under the overarching theme of '10 Years of ASEM, Global Challenges - Joint Responses', mainly focusing on the key policy areas identified at FMM7. In addition to the Chairman's Statement, the "ASEM6 Declaration on Climate Change" and the "Helsinki Declaration on the Future of ASEM" were issued. At the summit meeting, the participation of three countries and one organization (India, Pakistan, Mongolia and the ASEAN Secretariat) from the Asian side and two countries (Bulgaria and Romania) from the European side was approved. The ASEM Virtual Secretariat was officially launched to facilitate coordination and information sharing among partners.
- At the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 7) held in Beijing, China in October 2008, the leaders issued the Statement of the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting on the International Financial Situation as their common message to the international community regarding the international financial crisis that worsened rapidly after the "Lehman Brothers shock" in September. On that occasion, an informal breakfast meeting among the heads of state and government of the ASEAN+3 countries was convened on short notice through the initiative of relevant countries including Japan, enabling an exchange of views on Asia’s recognition of the current situation and responses.
- Australia, New Zealand and Russia formally joined ASEM at the Eighth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM8) held in Brussels, Belgium in October 2010. The leaders held discussions under the main theme "Quality of Life" and issued the Chair’s Statement of the ASEM8 and the Brussels Declaration on More Effective Global Economic Governance.
- Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland formally joined ASEM at the Ninth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) held in Vientiane, Laos in November 2012. The leaders held discussions under the main theme "Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity" and issued the Chair's Statement of the ASEM9 and the Vientiane Declaration on Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Development.
- Kazakhstan and Croatia formally joined ASEM at the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM10) held in Milan, Italy in October 2014. The leaders held discussions under the main theme “Responsible Partnership for Growth and Security” and issued the Chair’s Statement of the ASEM10, which lead to the twelve ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM12) held in Luxembourg in November 2015 under the main theme “Working Together for a Sustainable and Secure Future”.
- In 2016, the ASEM marked its twentieth year since its inception. At the eleventh Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM11) held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in July 2016 under the main theme “20 Years of ASEM: Partnership for the Future through Connectivity” and issued the Statement of ASEM Leaders on International Terrorism and the Ulaanbaatar Declaration. In this Declaration, it was agreed by the Heads of member States / Organizations to designate 1 March as the “ASEM Day”.