Address by Mr Paavo Lipponen, Speaker of the Parliament of Finland and ASEP IV President
11 Sep 2006, 10:08 en
ASEM 6 SUMMIT
Helsinki, September 11, 2006
(check against delivery)
Mr. Chair of the Summit, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Asia – Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting I want to thank you for this opportunity to address the ASEM Summit, and to briefly inform you of the outcome of the fourth ASEP meeting which was held here in Helsinki at the beginning of May.
It is a great pleasure for me also on a personal level to be here. I know this process quite well as I was in Bangkok in 1996 and also took part in the meetings in London in 1998 and in Copenhagen in 2002. I am happy to see many colleagues from those past years around this table today.
When ASEM first was started the overall objective was to create between Europe and Asia the kind of high-level dialogue that already existed in the transatlantic context, and in the Pacific region. Parliaments, through ASEP, have an important role to play in this process. At our meeting here in Helsinki we decided on measures to enable us to make an even stronger contribution in the coming years. The meeting served this purpose very well; almost all our member states were present. The turnout from Asia was excellent, and we also had a good participation by national parliaments from the EU.
ASEP provided us with a good opportunity to take stock of our cooperation during the first ten years, and to set some goals for future work. The host of ASEM, Prime Minister Vanhanen, addressed the parliamentary meeting, and in ASEP we are very glad for this link between the parliaments and governments in the Asia – Europe cooperative process.
The Helsinki ASEP meeting adopted formal rules of procedure for ASEP. The new rules, drafted under the excellent leadership of Vietnam, the previous ASEP host, mean that we now will be holding meetings on a regular basis every two years. This year the ASEP and ASEM are organized by the same country. Two years ago that was also the case in Vietnam. Having the ASEP meeting in the ASEM host country will now be the primary rule in the future.
China has already agreed to host also the ASEP meeting in 2008, and we can now look forward to establishing a link with ASEM there. I hope this close cooperation in the preparatory phase of the two meetings will make our work even more efficient in the future. In our declaration it is very clearly stated that ASEP needs to make an active parliamentary contribution to the ASEM process, and in particular to Summit Meetings. Our meeting also considered it important that ASEP Presidents in the future always communicate the ASEP Declaration to the ASEM Summit. I am very glad that we were able to establish a procedure for this here in Helsinki.
The ASEP Declaration provides our cooperation with some new content. It covers common ground between our countries in a number of fields. It includes concerns that are perhaps more pressing in some countries than in others, but most of the issues were very much of common interest to all participants. The main ASEP topics were Climate Change and Economic Implications, and Education and Mobility. The Declaration focuses on measures to strengthen the Asia – Europe partnership especially in the economic field, transport and logistics. It also addresses existing imbalances in development, resources and environmental conditions, as well as the security agenda in a broad sense. We also emphasize the need for increased Asia – Europe cultural exchange. We would especially like to see increased efforts to develop youth exchange programs. The participants were united, and very clearly stated the need for action on these important issues. As you have noted, our themes are also well in line with the priorities of this Summit. By our joint efforts I hope the Declaration will receive the attention it deserves, and will also lead to practical results.
As the outgoing President of ASEP I want to thank you once more for this opportunity to inform you of the results of our meeting.
I wish you a very successful Summit. I would also like to congratulate China, the next host of ASEP and ASEM. We look very much forward to working with China in taking the Asia – Europe cooperation to the next level, and in maintaining a continued and fruitful dialogue between ASEP and ASEM.