Prince sees positive side of globalization

Addressing the 10th Foreign Ministers Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem), which began in Budapest, Hungary yesterday, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, emphasised that without the help of strong regional and international institutions one cannot deal with various threats and challenges.

This also shows that globalisation does not have to be a threat, HRH added.

Following is the full text of HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah's statement:

I would like to congratulate Hungary on its EU Presidency and offer my very best wishes to Poland when they take over in July. As you know, Brunei Darussalam is the current coordinator of the Asean-EU Dialogue. So, we look forward to welcoming your EU delegation at next month's meeting in Jakarta.

I would also like to thank Minister Martonyi for the welcome we have had in this beautiful and historic city. In fact, Budapest is so beautiful that it is hard to imagine security challenges, even though they are all around us these days.

I say this because visitors to my own country get the same impression but for a different reason. In our case, it is because we are a very small country and people coming to see us often wonder why we worry about security.

We worry, of course, because smallness is no protection and no country today is self-contained.

The problems come from outside and they are so big and so complex that we cannot deal with them on our own, not as individuals, or families, or communities, or even as single governments. So, for us, the words "non-traditional" do not refer to the challenges. They describe the modern world and the situation we all face.

We had a good example of this two years ago, with the H1N1 epidemic. For us, it was rather like last week's news about the outbreak of E.coli in Europe.

The impact was exactly the same. It came as a very sudden shock. We knew nothing about it and it came from nowhere with no local history. We also had no basic knowledge, limited expertise and very little information. In fact, it nearly brought the whole country to a standstill and people were quite near to panic.

Luckily, however, we were able to turn to outside institutions. Some of these were international, like the World Health Organisation. Some were regional and others were the result of basic cooperation with our neighbours. This was all enormous help and we learned a very important lesson.

It was not just about health threats but also energy and food security, international crime, natural disasters and even local disputes. The lesson was a basic one. It taught us that there is no way we can deal with these things without strong regional and international institutions to help us.

So, coming here to Asem gives us a very welcome chance to thank all our partners from Asia and from Europe for the work they have done to build the institutions and provide the experience, expertise and information we need. It is much appreciated and we would like to encourage everyone to support and strengthen them.

This is not just because they help us meet new challenges but because they have an even deeper effect. They show our people that globalisation does not have to be a threat.

They can see that it is working in their own interests and, as a result, the modern world seems much less frightening and they have far more confidence in the future. - Borneo Bulletin (7th June 2011)