A press conference on the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) was held at Thandar Hall of the Myanmar International Convention Centre-I, Nay Pyi Taw after the conclusion of the meeting. State Counsellor and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Daw Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her hopes that talks with Bangladesh this week will result in a memorandum of understanding on the “safe return” of refugees who fled to Bangladesh in the past three months. “We need to do ‘everything possible for stability in Rakhine,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Spain will host the 14th ASEM FMM next year. This year’s ASEM FMM was attended by 54 representatives and more than 500 representative team members from 51 Asian and European countries.
During the meeting, more than 90 bilateral discussions were held. Negotiating to reach agreement among 51 partner countries is very difficult. Final discussion points were issued yesterday evening and are now confirmed. The chairman’s statement will also be posted on the ASEM website for all to study. The meeting achieved significant progress in this meeting.
The meeting was able to implement the ASEM connectivity established in the 11th ASEM Summit held in Mongolia”.
In line with the aim of ASEM, an agreement on defining connectivity among ASEM and agreement on scope of work, timetable and ASEM connectivity works were achieved. Defining connectivity is an essential requirement for the aim of increasing connectivity between Asia and Europe. Discussions were successfully held as per the theme of the meeting, “Strengthening partnership for peace and sustainable development.
Meeting attendees also shared views on handling ASEM cooperation matters for peace and sustainable development in the general meetings of 20 November. The main discussions were sustainable development, regional stability, ASEM partner cooperation, connectivity, prevention and eradication of terrorism and extremism, narcotics, migration, illegal fishing, disarmament, preventing the proliferation of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction, cyber security, economic development, expanding high quality basic infrastructure, connecting and performing via regional and international frameworks.
In yesterday’s meeting, regional and international matters were discussed practically and openly.
The discussions at the meeting would support the future work processes of ASEM and, in addition to peace and sustainable development, it will be beneficial for the people, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
Representative of EU and Estonian Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Sven Misker, on behalf of EU, thanked Myanmar for hosting this meeting.
“The aim of this meeting is to increase friendship and cooperation between countries of Asia and Europe. 60 per cent of the world’s GDP is from ASEM and ASEM covers 60 per cent of the world’s population. This is equivalent to 60 per cent of world trade. In this meeting, we shared views on world events. In the two days, discussions were conducted on security, trade, climate change and sustainable development as well as security matters. The Korean peninsula, difficulties in Ukraine and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons were discussed. We urge the Myanmar government to handle the Rakhine State affair appropriately. This meeting can be said to be a very successful meeting”, he said.
14th ASEM FMM is to be hosted by Spain and Spainish Secretary of State H.E. Mr. Ildefonso Castro said ASEM was held starting from 1996 with an aim to increase connections between Asia and Europe. It is believed to have increased connectivity between the people of Asia and Europe.
“The meeting in Myanmar was held to handle common challenges and to share views. We need to work towards basic infrastructure development. People want a better future and a safer situation. Spain is happy and honored to host the forthcoming 2019 ASEM FMM. In 2016, 76 million tourists from all over the world visited Spain. This year, this is expected to increase 10 per cent. We have maintained Spain’s cultural heritages and invite all to visit us”, he said.
In response to questions raised by the reporters, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said isues related with Rakhine State were discussed yesterday. There are many differing views on implementing the recommendations of the commission led by Mr. Kofi Annan, and it needs to be conducted for the long term. Many Myanmar and Bangladesh bilateral meetings will be held. An MoU need to be signed to repatriate displaced persons in accordance with the law. Efforts will be made for longterm establishment of peace and security in Rakhine State. Rule of law in Rakhine State was also discussed. Reconstruction and humanitarian assistance could not be done immediately and thus we don’t know the exact time frame. But we expect to do it step by step successfully and for this we need international assistance, according to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Continuing her reply to the reporters’ question, the State Counsellor said it is difficult to say how soon the bilateral discussions between Bangladesh and Myanmar will be completed.
The discussions on Rakhine issue have been made more than one or two months ago. As the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister is in Myanmar now, the issue will be discussed with officials tomorrow and hope to reach an agreement soon. Repatriation of the displaced persons will be done systematically according to the agreement reached between the two countries.