Speech to the Opening Ceremony of ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting Luxembourg

  • Todd McClay
Foreign Affairs

HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Madame Chair – EU Representative and Vice President, Mogherini, Ministers, and delegates.

On behalf of the Northeast and South Asia group of Asian countries I would like to thank in advance Luxembourg and the European Commission for their excellent arrangements in hosting and chairing this ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting.

Under the theme of ‘Working Together for a Sustainable and Secure Future’ you have set the scene for what should be a productive exchange on a number of regional and international issues.

May I make mention of the ASEM young leaders and thank them for their words. Your participation here today gives me great confidence for our future

This is an important time for us to meet. There are big global and regional challenges and opportunities at our doorstep.  Asia and Europe have a large stake in these. We also have complementary strengths, wisdom and experience.

ASEM is an important platform for political dialogue, economic cooperation and cultural and social exchange, addressing not only challenges but also promoting security, prosperity and understanding between Asia and Europe.  

It is welcome that this meeting will discuss climate change and that we may add our support for a successful outcome at the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Paris.

New Zealand is committed to achieving an ambitious and effective outcome in Paris this year, and is doing its fair share as part of the global response and we encourage all ASEM members to do likewise.

Climate change also plays a role in the adverse weather events and other natural disasters that challenge the resilience of our communities.  The Asia-Pacific region regularly experiences natural disasters and there is an important role for governments to play in supporting community preparedness, building national disaster management capability and supporting communities as they rebuild their lives from natural disasters.  This is a lesson hard learnt by New Zealand with our experience following the Canterbury earthquakes but we know government, along with affected communities, can work together to rebuild in a way that secures a safer and stronger future.

Next year we will also celebrate ASEM’s 20th anniversary. Here in Luxembourg we will have the opportunity to reflect on ASEM’s past achievements and re-dedicate ourselves to enhancing ASEM so that it remains fit for purpose – nimble and responsive – but also effectively adding value, to achieve the objective of enhancing links and understanding between Asia and Europe.  

New Zealand is honoured to act as coordinator for our fellow countries represented in the NESA group – Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Russia.  We support fully our NESA fellow Mongolia in its preparations as host of the ASEM Summit next year.

New Zealand has long sought to play an active part in enhancing the connections between Asia and Europe. Our decision to join ASEM in 2010 underscored and formalised our engagement in this important work.

On behalf of my NESA Group colleagues, I look forward to a constructive discussion over the next two days.

Thank you very much.