The Foreign Ministers of the 45 ASEM member states gathered in the historic town hall of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg for the 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Conference from 28 to 29 May.
In Hamburg the ASEM members agreed to intensify regional cooperation on global issues and in resolving international conflicts. One of the main themes of the conference was tackling climate change. Participants reinforced their belief that only joint decisive action can save the world from the consequences of advancing global warming. The ASEM members therefore support a comprehensive global follow-up regime to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. This follow-up programme is intended to take account of the common but differentiated responsibility of the international community for global warming.
Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosted the informal ASEM Foreign Minister process gathering, opening the conference on Whit Monday (28 May) with a dinner at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski.
Steinmeier began by pointing out that the members of the ASEM cooperation together now made up 60% of international trade, 58% of the world’s population and around 50% of global economic output. He said that today ASEM was an influential voice in the world, willing to jointly shoulder responsibility. He stated that a globalized world would necessarily cause national influence on economic governance to diminish, and that “we therefore also intend to draw on regional fora such as ASEM more to reach common solutions for the problems that confront us.” For globalization to be an opportunity for everyone, he emphasized that it required regulations and boundaries, in short “a fair order”.
For this reason, too, the ASEM subject spectrum has shifted. The topics now range from current foreign policy and security issues such as the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan, through energy and climate change and socio-political subjects such as work, employment and education, right up to intercultural and interfaith dialogue. Steinmeier added, “That is a level of influence that we can and should use to an even greater degree in international politics.”
In his opening address the Minister emphasized the unique quality of ASEM cooperation. As an informal network, ASEM has successfully been bringing Europe and Asia closer together for more than 10 years now, using a practice-oriented approach and without separate organizational structures.
Steinmeier especially welcomed the six new ASEM members – India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bulgaria, Romania and the ASEAN General Secretariat – taking part in an ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting for the first time. The number of ASEM members has therefore practically doubled within two years, from 26 to 45.
During the informal dinner at the start of the meeting on 28 May, the participants discussed current international crisis and conflict regions such as Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the Middle East, as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula and nuclear non-proliferation issues.
The second day’s agenda included urgent global issues such as measures to combat climate change and safeguard world energy supply, as well as discussions on how to jointly fight international terrorism. The closing session of the conference was devoted to ongoing ASEM cooperation projects.
In the Presidency’s final statement, which had been submitted to all ASEM members, the ASEM Foreign Ministers underline the need for a global and comprehensive post‑2012 climate regime, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The statement acknowledged the role played by targets in improving investment security for renewable energies and energy efficiency. Negotiations should be completed by 2009 if at all possible. Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier pointed out that the Bali Conference in December 2007 would be a crucial factor in this process.
Speaking also on behalf of the Federal Government and the conference participants, the Foreign Minister expressed his heartfelt thanks to the host, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, for the warm welcome it had provided, which had caused its residents some inconvenience due to road blocks and anti-globalization demonstrations.
The 45 members of the ASEM cooperation are Japan, China, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, South Korea, the 10 states in the ASEAN alliance (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Myanmar, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cambodia), the ASEAN General Secretariat as well as the 27 European Union Member States and the European Commission. The four ASEM Coordinators are the German EU Presidency, the Commission, China and Brunei Darussalam. The EU High Representative for the CFSP, Javier Solana, took part in an ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting as a guest for the first time in Hamburg, underlining ASEM’s growing security-policy dimension.