Asian and European Foreign Ministers met in Luxembourg today for the 12th ASEM summit. Their aim was to find common approaches to the large number of crises currently affecting both continents. Foreign Minister Steinmeier also met many of his counterparts for bilateral talks on the margins of the meeting, including the Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh and Pakistan, with whom he discussed the return of refused asylum seekers to their country of origin.
A different perspective
The Asian guests travelled a long way to attend the meeting with their European colleagues in Luxembourg. However, the long journey is what makes the meeting format so productive for the participants – the long distance between their countries means that many of them rarely have a chance to meet in person. “This helps us to see things from a different perspective”, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said at the start of the meeting. However, the distance does not alter the fact that most crises in the world affect both Europe and Asia. For this reason, the aim of the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was to find common approaches to the global crises.
Afghanistan shows that cooperation is needed
Afghanistan is an example of how local crises can have a global impact. Security and stability in the Hindu Kush also affect the flows of refugees towards Europe. “This shows us clearly that we also need to work with Asian countries in order to de‑escalate the situation and to help pacify and stabilise the region”, Steinmeier said. He specifically mentioned China, India and Pakistan, which have a particularly important role to play in this context.
An opportunity for bilateral talks
Such meetings also always provide a valuable opportunity for bilateral talks. On the margins of the meeting, Foreign Minister Steinmeier held talks with his counterparts from Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Japan, with whom he discussed refugee policies and economic topics. In light of the current refugee crisis, Steinmeier also met the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh to discuss the expectation that refused asylum seekers who do not have a right to reside in Germany or Europe will be allowed to return to their country of origin.