9th Asia/Europe Summit: common press conference by José Manuel Barroso, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, and Thongsing Thammavong, Lao Prime Minister and Chairman of the 9th ASEM Summit
Type: Complete press conference
End production: 06/11/2012 First transmission: 06/11/2012
On 6 November 2012, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Thongsing Thammavong, Lao Prime Minister and Chairman of the 9th ASEM Summit, gave a press conference on the occasion of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit held under the theme “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity” on 5-6 November 2012 in Vientiane, Laos.
The ASEM 9 aims to provide an opportunity for Leaders of Asia and Europe to discuss regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including, among others, food and energy security, sustainable development, financial and economic crisis, climate change, natural disaster response, socio-cultural cooperation and future direction of ASEM.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of Thongsing Thammavong, Lao Prime Minister and Chairman of the 9th ASEM Summit, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at the 9th ASEM Summit in Laos (3 shots)
||Soundbite by the moderator (in ENGLISH) opening the 9th ASEM Summit, presenting the speakers and inviting Thongsing Thammavong to take the floor
||Soundbite by Thongsing Thammavong (in LAO)
||Soundbite by the moderator (in ENGLISH) thanking Thongsing Thammavong and inviting Herman van Rompuy to take the floor
||Soundbite by Herman van Rompuy (in ENGLISH): Good afternoon and welcome to this press conference. Let me agree with the Lao PDR Prime Minister that this was a very good Summit. And let me add that we all have appreciated his leadership in chairing the summit and the perfect organisation and hospitality of Laos. The EU is very satisfied with the high level of participation on Asian and European side, with the quality of discussions over the last two days; And, with the substance of the documents we just approved.
I believe these are testimony to our common effort to make ASEM – a partnership that gathers half of the world GDP, and 60% of world’s trade and population – a strong and unique driver in the euro Asian relations.
Over two intense days we discussed in depth the three pillars of ASEM: economy, political
and socio-cultural fields.
You have probably listened to my conclusive remarks at the closing ceremony. So I will not repeat them, but let me underline some points I retain from this important meeting.
Economy and trade was clearly the key of our debate. There was no blame game. Rather a clear sense that – in Asia as well as in Europe – we are on the same boat, as the global economy keeps us tightly interlinked. Myself and many European Leaders explained:
– The substantial reforms undertaken by the EU and by its MS;
– The Euro is on the right track and
– The Euro is an irreversible project;
– The many significant Free Trade negotiations undertaken by the EU with Asian partners and our commitment to promote trade and resist protectionism. President Barroso will go into details, but let me stress that I welcome the very recent accession by Lao to the WTO: it exemplifies the strong commitment of us all to the multilateral trade system.
Many Asian countries reaffirmed their commitment to address the imbalances in their economies, and to keep working together with us bilaterally and in the G20 to restore financial stability and to create structural economic growth and jobs.
From this debate emerged that in the modern world we all should row in the same direction. Growth and development are inextricably linked. We need each other.
The same sense of common destiny was reflected also in our discussions on political and security developments in our respective regions. Instability in one country or region will inevitably have negative consequences for all of us. Security is no longer a concept that can be constrained to national borders. Terrorism, piracy at sea, the terrible consequences of armed conflict or the destabilizing effects of internal strife expand far away from the places of origin. In some cases, particularly as regards terrorism and organized crime, it is even difficult to find one single point of origin. The risks of proliferation of nuclear weapons are a threat to all of us and we must join forces to address such threats regardless of the region where they develop. The exchanges that we had revealed convergence of views and, once again, the usefulness of discussions in broader fora and of increased mutual understanding.
The importance of regional integration processes was also highlighted. ASEAN's role in the building of pan-regional security architecture in Asia was broadly welcomed. EUASEAN relations have become indeed an important element in the EU-Asia relation, complementing usefully EU bilateral relations with ASEAN members and offering multilayered fora for the exchange of views on Asian strategic questions beyond ASEAN borders. The EU is happy to support ASEAN development through its 35 years long partnership and looks forward to further deepening this relationship.
Finally, we have agreed to expand further the people to people, cultural and social links.
With 60% of the world population ASEM is a unique platform to increase mutual trust and understanding in an unprecedented scale, not only for Leaders, but, also, for our citizens.
ASEM initiatives on human and social rights, its parliamentary dialogues, the promotion of a closer interfaith dialogue, our cultural and social exchanges, all represent extraordinary tools to bring our societies closer together.
In concluding, let me say that this ASEM 9 represents the culmination of a weeklong tour that brought me to several Asian countries.
Wherever I went I found the same sense of friendship, openness and commitment to make Europe and Asia closer partners for a better future.
I believe that the theme of the Summit – Peace and Partnership – reflects this sense of friendship. At the end of ASEM 9 there is certainly an improved partnership.
The EU – as the next host of the 2014 Summit in Brussels - will take this commitment and responsibility onward.
||Soundbite by the moderator (in ENGLISH) inviting José Manuel Barroso to take the floor
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): Let me start by thanking Lao PDR for hosting this Summit. Mr Prime Minister, you have done a remarkable job in welcoming all of us here and we are grateful for your organization and your hospitality.
We have finished two days of very open, productive and intense discussions and we are indeed very happy with the outcome of this Summit.
The Prime Minister of Laos and the President of the European Council already presented the most important results. Let me just underline some aspects.
Europe-Asia relations are today more relevant than ever. And this is not just a vague general political declaration of intentions. This is confirmed by the facts of the economic relationship, by trade, and also by increasing political interaction. The European Union's engagement with Asia is, we believe, also key for the world.
The message that we have brought to this gathering was very clear: Europe is a committed Asian partner and we want to be even more present in this part of the world.
In fact, Europe has already a strong stake in Asia’s success and growth. Asia is the destination of almost a quarter of European Union exports worth 68 billion euros per year. And we procure 42% of our imports from Asian partners. Asia is also a major recipient of EU Foreign Direct Investment.
Asia has also a strong stake in Europe’s prosperity. We are the largest export market for Asian products as well as a key destination for Asian investors. This proves that despite the geographical distance our continents are ever more interdependent. And this notion of interdependence was very much present in our open discussions in this summit.
These two days we had the occasion to discuss how to build on this interdependence in a mutually beneficial way, for our two regions and for the rest of the world.
We spoke about the economic and financial situation and how only an integrated approach on the part of Europe and Asia and the other major economies can restore strong, sustainable, balanced growth.
But the economy is just one dimension of our partnership. In the European Union we are building a solid framework for our relations with Asia, based on three pillars: Partnership Agreements; Free Trade Agreements; and multilateral cooperation of which this forum, the Asia – Europe Meeting, is the main example.
On multilateral cooperation, this Summit allowed us to address important global issues such as climate change and the green economy.
We are both faced with the challenge of ensuring that growth is both sustainable and inclusive. The issues of resource depletion or income inequality need to be addressed. Environmental degradation is not sustainable; inequality, extreme poverty is not sustainable. In this respect we reaffirmed our commitment to the fulfilment of MDGs and to work together on the follow up to the Rio+20 Summit and in preparing the Climate conference in Doha.
We also had a good exchange of views on how to address current political and security-related challenges in the region and beyond. I just visited Myanmar where I could witness the important changes taking place there and where I have offered EU support to advance peace, national reconciliation and economic development. This shows how the EU also has an important role to play in fostering democracy, respect for human rights, peace and stability in the region.
All the above confirms the relevance of the ASEM process in today's world. We are now a family of 51, but I am sure that this will not be the final number.
My last remark is to say that our region-to-region relations will be further facilitated if the regional integration process in Asia, through ASEAN, makes further strides. Open regionalism is indeed a basis for effective multilateralism.
As you know – and many leaders congratulated the European Union for that – the European Union was recently honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for – and I quote: "The successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.” We were reminded by the Nobel Peace Prize that beyond the current difficulties, the transformative power of regional integration is a huge achievement for our citizens. I believe that also deepened inter - regional dialogue like the one we are pursuing. The Asia – Europe Meeting is, in fact, a first step in this direction.
So, let me once more express my sincere appreciation to the leaders and the people of Laos for the excellent hospitality provided to all of us here in Vientiane and for hosting such an important Summit for the future of our relations.
I thank you for your attention.
||Soundbite by the moderator (in ENGLISH) thanking José Manuel Barroso and opening the questions/answers session