Asia, Europe partnership vital to growth, prosperity

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday said the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) provides a good opportunity to reflect on its value and significance during its 13th summit, held virtually from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.

His Majesty recalled the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand in 1996, where ASEM leaders recognised the huge potential in linking Asia and Europe to achieve greater growth and prosperity.

The monarch saw the reinforcement of the partnership between Asia and Europe as vital, as member partners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

His Majesty, thus, underlined the importance of digital connectivity and believed it is “incumbent on us to align efforts” on it to meet the needs of the peoples and businesses. As such, the monarch said Brunei is pleased that such an effort will be advanced through the ASEM Connectivity initiative.

The monarch also stressed on the timely and equitable access to vaccines as well as the recognition of vaccines listed in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing as important in resuming safe travel as soon as possible, to forge educational, social and cultural links, which are mutually beneficial for all.

ABOVE & BELOW: His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the meeting. PHOTOS: INFOFOTO

His Majesty also highlighted the issue of mental health, which should be addressed to prevent long-term impacts to the economy and the people, while seeing a huge potential for ASEM to cooperate in the area through the sharing of expertise and best practices.

Earlier, opening remarks were delivered by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, as Chair of the 13th ASEM Summit; President of the European Council Charles Michel, as the Regional Coordinator for European Group; President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, as the Regional Coordinator for European Group; Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as the Regional Coordinator for NESA Group; Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, as the European Union (EU) Council Presidency and Regional Coordinator for European Group; and Thai Prime Minister General (Rtd) Prayut Chan-o-cha as the Regional Coordinator for the ASEAN Group.

The summit, which coincided with ASEM’s 25th anniversary, also saw statements delivered by ASEM stakeholders.

The first plenary session focussed on the role of ASEM in promoting multilateralism amid complex global challenges while maintaining mutual respect, understanding and trust between ASEM partners through the strengthening of a rules-based international trading system.

Joint cooperation to achieve sustainable development and growth, especially in tackling the climate change agenda and leveraging on digital connectivity opportunities, was also discussed.