PM pushes multilateralism to partners at Asia-Europe meet

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Prime Minister Hun Sen chairs the virtual 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) from the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 25. SPM

Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the leaders of Asian and European countries to further strengthen the Asia-Europe partnership to maintain a solid multilateralism that will lead to sustainable global growth and sharing.

He made the remarks as he chaired the virtual 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) from the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on November 25.

“In fact, in today’s post-crisis world we need to further reinforce our Asia-Europe partnership to maintain a strong multilateralism that will bring about global growth that is not only sustainable but can also be shared,” he said.

He noted that since its inception in 1996, ASEM has proven to be an essential platform for linking and promoting partnerships between Asia and Europe.

“ASEM’s strength lies in its core principles of informality, flexibility and mutual respect following the spirit of consensus and equal partnership.

“I believe that, in the current situation, we need these principles at the fore more than ever as we are facing myriad challenges that require our joint efforts and responses,” he said.

Hun Sen added that ASEM13 has set its objectives based on the principles of shared growth, sustainable development and rules-based multilateralism and as an important multilateral platform linking Asia and Europe. ASEM is therefore essential and can be a strong global force for good.

“As ASEM is moving towards the next decade of its existence, we all have a shared responsibility to ensure that ASEM continues to be an essential and robust inter-regional platform that can bring about great benefits for its people and can make an even greater contribution to peace, stability, prosperity and development of the world,” he concluded.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said at the summit that ASEM is a forum wherein each side can declare its principles and work towards establishing multilateral relations with Asia that will support the socio-economic recovery post-Covid.

“I believe that our partners will build back better with green, inclusive and sustainable systems. In Europe – in the future – we will expand our relations with Asia and work together on climate change to further advance multilateralism.

“Europe respects loyal partners and we are ready to deepen our relations with all of you for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” he said.

Heng Kimkong, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland and a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Centre, told The Post on November 25 that advancing multilateralism within the framework of the Asia-Europe partnership is crucial for Cambodia, the region and the world.

In order to tackle global and complex issues such as the pandemic or climate change, it requires concerted efforts and cooperation from many, if not all, of the world’s countries.

“Cambodia as a member of various multilateral institutions and agreements will stand to benefit greatly from its efforts and its consistent commitment to promoting multilateralism and the Asia-Europe partnership,” Kimkong said.

He said that in promoting the Asia-Europe partnership, Cambodia can benefit from capacity building, technology transfer and increased international solidarity, particularly in the pandemic context.

“Moreover, given that the EU is historically one of Cambodia’s major export markets, the Asia-Europe partnership could prove vital to Cambodia’s post-pandemic recovery,” he added.