Ansari wants it to be a forum for dialogue between the East and the West

With consensus emerging on bringing about a change in the working methods of ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), India sought result-oriented initiatives by agreeing to work with like-minded ASEM members in areas with potential for tangible cooperation.

Speaking at the biggest international gathering of the year with over 30 Foreign Ministers attending, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here on Monday that the aim should be to take ASEM “into homes and offices of people across Asia and Europe and allow us to bring in members of civil society, business, media and Parliaments as our partners in strengthening it as a bridge between the two continents.”

In this respect, he referred to a meeting of senior officials that recommended the setting up of a Working Group on Press and Public Awareness Strategy and another on devising a road map for the 20th anniversary celebrations of ASEM in 2016.

During his address, Mr. Khurshid reiterated his hope that discussions over the next two days will move ASEM beyond a “declaratory political dialogue, towards tangible deliverables and concrete action in a more determined manner.”

Inaugurating the 11th ASEM Ministerial, Vice President Hamid Ansari wanted ASEM, as a forum for dialogue between the East and the West, to be “relevant in situational terms.” Explaining the concept, he pointed out that the international community is facing the twin challenges of sluggish economic growth and more sophisticated non-traditional security threats.

Dialogue is necessary because as the economic slowdown continues, emerging economies that were previously seen as the engines of economic growth have been compelled to take tough decisions they can ill-afford, given the enormity of their developmental needs. The increasing sophistication of non-traditional security threats needed higher levels of comprehension and cooperation which can only be accomplished by dialogue.

“Therefore, we should endeavour to take it beyond being a forum for political dialogue only, make it reach out to the people of Member States and create wider stake-holding amongst economic partners and civil society. We should invest its outcomes with tangible deliverables,” he advised.

Mr. Ansari also drew attention to the inherent advantages of ASEM in meeting some of these hopes. It has an unparalleled edge in terms of membership, capacity, economic influence, intellectual depth, strategic expertise and political leadership.

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