Gender equity, the fight against terrorism, marine pollution: at first glance, these three issues seem to have little in common. But the 51 Asian and European ASEM member states are agreed that these problems can only be solved if countries work together, i.e. multilaterally. That’s why they are on the agenda of the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which will be opened in Madrid on Monday by King Felipe VI of Spain under the motto “Asia and Europe: Together for Effective Multilateralism”. Foreign Minister Maas, in Madrid to represent Germany at the meeting, said:
We want to use the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting to call for Europe and Asia to stand shoulder to shoulder. If we pull in the same direction, it can trigger global momentum.
Opportunity for dialogue
The regular ASEM meetings provide an opportunity for free and direct exchange and moves to find joint approaches – for instance on climate change, defence of the rules-based multilateral global order or the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons. The ASEM region accounts for 60% of the world’s population, 65% of global production and 55% of world trade. Accordingly, the region is important for Germany, too.
What is ASEM?
ASEM, the Asia-Europe Meeting, was set up back in 1996 as a platform for informal multilateral dialogue. Summits at heads of government level take place in this format every two years (with the Foreign Ministers’ meetings in the years in between), making this the only format in which representatives of the governments of all EU member states, Norway and Switzerland meet their Asian counterparts annually.