Boost for Asia-Europe alliance

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday consented to attend the opening ceremony and the plenary sessions of the 10th Asia-Europe Summit Meeting held at the Milano Congressi Convention Centre in Milan, Italy.

His Majesty was greeted on arrival at the Convention Centre by Matteo Renzi, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy who is also the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic together with José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

His Majesty then consented to join other ASEM heads of state and government at the Main Conference Hall.

The opening ceremony began with the welcoming remarks by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, as the Chairman of the 10th Asia-Europe Summit Meeting.

This was followed by statements delivered by Thongsing Thammavong, Prime Minister of the Lao People Democratic Republic, as the former host of the 9th Asia-Europe Summit Meeting and the President of the European Commission, the President of Mongolia as the upcoming host of the 11th ASEM Summit meeting, the Prime Minister of Malaysia as the Coordinator for Asean and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy.

After the opening ceremony, His Majesty and heads of state and government of ASEM attended the meeting session with the representatives of the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP); Asia-Europe People Forum (AEPF); and Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF).

Later, His Majesty consented to join the heads of state and government of ASEM for a family photo at the lobby of the Convention Centre.

His Majesty proceeded to the Main Conference Hall where the meeting began with the First Plenary Session of the ASEM Summit Meeting.

The leaders of ASEM discussed the main agenda on Promoting Financial and Economic Cooperation through Enhanced Europe-Asia Connectivity.

In the second plenary session, the leaders discussed the main agenda on Europe-Asia Partnership in Addressing Global Matters in an Inter-Connected World.

During the session, His Majesty consented to deliver a titah in which His Majesty firstly thanked Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Government of Italy for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements for the meeting. His Majesty also welcomed ASEM new partners, Croatia and Kazakhstan.

His Majesty then recalled that ASEM came together in 1996. It was on the idea of not only enhancing dialogue on regional and global matters, but also the excitement in terms of creating bigger opportunities for trade and investment between countries in the region.

This was the kind of connectivity that was hoped to generate employment and increase better prospects for both the regions’ businesses. His Majesty was therefore pleased that ASEM is continuing to focus on connectivity, including its goal to revive the Silk Road that was once a vital trade link between Asia and Europe.

His Majesty recognised that ASEM membership is diverse and member countries have their own priorities. But all have common commitments to tackle global challenges that adversely impact ASEM.

His Majesty further said that this year has been a challenging time and ASEM is also increasingly concerned with the rise in violence and brutality perpetrated by terrorist groups.

In this regard, His Majesty emphasised that Brunei Darussalam strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms, and totally rejects extremism and radicalism.

Furthermore, Brunei Darussalam supports the recent UN Security Council Resolutions (2170) and (2178) to suppress the activities of terrorist groups.

At the same time, His Majesty stated that Brunei Darussalam is also of the view that the root causes of terrorism and extremism should be addressed in a comprehensive manner. Malaysia proposal to host a Symposium on Countering Radicalisation will help to highlight the many different facets in dealing with counter-terrorism.

Hence, His Majesty hoped to see more information-sharing and capacity building between enforcement agencies both regional and international. At the same time, His Majesty encourages the holding of inter-faith dialogues to promote tolerance and understanding and to counter the views and activities of extremists.

In addition, His Majesty stated that as ASEM looked towards the United Nation post-2015 Development Agenda and contemplate a new climate agreement next year, its contribution would be valuable in garnering support on specific issues. This is where the partnership within ASEM is appreciated, in terms of promoting low carbon-technology transfer to developing countries, to make it affordable and accessible to all.

His Majesty believed that fostering people-to-people ties is an important element in enhancing ASEM relevance to its society. Programme exchanges like the EU Horizon 2020 offer many practical opportunities in capacity-building and technology transfer that are valuable to students, think-tanks and researchers in Asia. Interactions like these allow students the opportunity to contribute to discussions on inter-regional and global challenges they face today. On this note, His Majesty welcomed ASEM students to Brunei next May to participate in a workshop aimed at promoting entrepreneurship.

At the end of his titah, His Majesty said that ASEM should continue to draw strength from its diversity, and focus on the synergies and common interests that will help bring ASEM work in the next decade to a higher level.

Accompanying His Majesty were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abd Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister Office and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II. - Borneo Bulletin (17 October 2014)