Europe-Asia Summit: Partnership for Growth and Security

Monday, 20 October 2014

PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – “Europe-Asia relations are today more relevant than ever. And this is not just a vague, general declaration of intentions. This is confirmed by the facts,” Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, said of the Europe-Asia summit which concluded Friday in Milan.
Taking place once every two years, the Asia-Europe Meeting, or  ASEM, is the most important platform to enhance inter-regional  cooperation between Asia and Europe. It provides opportunities for members to exchange views, build strategic trust, determine common position, and build partnership.
ASEM is evolving into a pillar sustaining global order through substantial political interaction, action-oriented cooperation, economic integration, and global agenda shaping process.
In the joint statement issued last Friday, the leaders recommended: “ASEM should continue with tangible and result-oriented activities which would benefit the people of both regions and increase ASEM’s visibility and relevance.”
The Summit brought together leaders of 53 member countries. It accounts for over 60 percent of the world population, over 60 percent of the global trade, and more than half of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Croatia and Kazakhstan are the latest members.
The Summit is a historic milestone in forging closer economic cooperation  between the two regions. Participants look for synergies in addressing global issues such as climate change. The New Silk Road project is to play a critical role in linking Asia and Europe.
Economic interdependence between Asia and Europe is on the rise. The EU is one of the top trading partners of Asian countries with an annual average growth rate of trade of about 6 percent. For ASEAN, bilateral trade volume with the EU was 13.1 percent in 2012. The EU is a leading investor in Asia. In 2012, 21.4 percent of EU outward foreign direct investment went to Asia. The EU is a major provider of development assistance to Asia.
Over the years, the Summit agenda broadened to include people-to-people ties and international security issues in addition to economic and financial cooperation. Last week, the Summit focused on five key words: responsibility to implement, partnership, connectivity, sustainable growth, and security.
The Summit also addressed  global security challenges stemming from the instability in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Ukraine, security threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, and the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. It called for collective efforts in tackling these issues.
On the sidelines, there were a number of bilateral meetings between the members. Such meetings help promote mutual understanding and trust building. Meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin with his counterparts from Ukraine and Europe drew most media attention.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also met his Thai counterpart Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to promote mutual understanding between the two countries. Both sides exchanged views on a wide range of issues including border demarcation, maritime disputes and energy cooperation, Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, and trade and investment cooperation.
Gen. Prayuth is scheduled to visit Cambodia from Oct. 30-31 to further exchange views and promote bilateral cooperation. Both leaders need to invest more efforts in strengthening mutual understanding and exploring common grounds to resolve the bilateral issues based on mutual interests. Overlapping maritime claims in the Gulf of Thailand is the most complicated issue on the agenda.​

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