Global political security tops agenda
Hakim Hayat

LEADERS from the 8th East Asia Summit (EAS) yesterday discussed broad and strategic issues of common concern at the regional and international levels, as well as ways to enhance and strengthen cooperation amid rising challenges particularly in the global political security landscape.

Other issues discussed during the summit that gathered leaders from the Asean member countries with eight of its dialogue partners – China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States – were also the priority areas of the EAS including food and energy security, climate change, pandemic diseases, disaster management and others.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin were not present at the summit and were represented by their respective foreign ministers. The United States and Russia were admitted to the regional forum in 2011.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Chairman of the 8th EAS, in his opening remarks acknowledged the challenges arising in the global political security landscape, but lauded recent positive cooperation among members of the United Nations (UN) in addressing issues of concern to the EAS, particularly the US and Russia’s efforts in seeking peaceful resolution in the Syrian crisis.

His Majesty said that Asean is also encouraged by Iran’s recent approach on its nuclear energy programme and said that they look forward to the progress on it. His Majesty also accorded his congratulations to President Obama for advancing the complex issue of bringing two parties together in the Middle East Peace Process, adding that they have the full support from Asean.

As Asean and China are making steady progress in talks surrounding the South China Sea issue, His Majesty praised the good momentum that both sides have had in resolving the issue in a peaceful manner since the Foreign Minister’s Meeting last June and September in Brunei.

His Majesty also emphasised that sustainable food security is an important element in EAS’ long-term sustainable future and has a direct impact on the people and overlaps with many key areas of the EAS, adding that he believes that the broad membership of the EAS could complement the existing work being done regionally and globally on strengthening food security in areas of production and supply chain efficiency, managing health by creating awareness and addressing the environmental aspect of food security as well as ways to build resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change.

As a follow-up to the last summit’s “energy partnership”, His Majesty was pleased to note that the establishment of a new Work Stream on “Renewable and Alternative Power Generation” that Brunei is co-chairing with the United States, adding that he believes that it will provide EAS with useful policy recommendations to increase investment and participation from the private sector in enhancing energy security that ensures access to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth and protecting the government.

On climate change, His Majesty said that he believes the EAS can work together by doing more in strengthening cooperation in mitigating the effects of climate change, such as environmental conservation, sustainable development and disaster management.

Meanwhile, in his address, Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh called for collective action, cooperation and collaboration in Asia to overcome the challenges posed by global economic uncertainty and political turmoil in parts of the world. “We gather in Brunei when the need for collective action, cooperation and collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region has never been felt more acutely. Global economic uncertainty and political turmoil in other parts of the world have impacted countries in our region equally. In addition, this vast region faces challenges arising not only from its diversity, but also from differences,” he said.

He said that Asia has the potential for unprecedented prosperity but the goal can be realised only by inculcating a cooperative temper among the countries in the region. “The East Asia Summit is a forum that is, in my view, ideally placed to help us realise our common goals for advancing security and prosperity in a cooperative framework.”

The Indian prime minister also said that India welcomes dialogue and cooperation on innovative means of financing infrastructure requirements of the region, highlighting the need to maintain stable maritime environment in the region. “A stable maritime environment, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, is essential to realise the collective regional aspirations of Asian countries,” he said, adding that he welcomes the commitment made by the concerned nations to resolve the SCS issue with a consensus.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, in the meantime, called on East Asian countries to deepen security mutual trust to safeguard regional peace and stability. “Without peace and stability, any development is out of the question,” he said, adding that China hopes to promote a new security concept that features comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security, and push forward candid dialogue and cooperation in the fields of traditional and non-traditional security.

He stressed that every member country of the East Asia Summit is responsible for regional security and stability, hoping that peace will last in East Asia and bring stability and tranquility to the region.

A Chairman’s Statement was adopted as the outcome of the summit and the EAS Leaders also adopted the Declaration of the 8th EAS on Food Security. - Borneo Bulletin (11 October 2013)