“Strengthening multilateralism for shared growth” to take centre stage at ASEM13 Summit

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said at the Asem Day forum held next to the Botum Vatey Pagoda in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia is preparing to host the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem13) Summit for the first time on November 16-17 this year, in what Prime Minister Hun Sen has called a landmark in historical diplomacy, where multilateralism will take centre stage.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn announced at the celebration of Asem Day held next to the Botum Vatey Pagoda in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, that Cambodia had decided on the theme “Strengthening multilateralism for shared growth”.

“We picked this theme because of its timely relevance. Up until Covid-19 hits the news, we are assailed daily by news of multilateralism under mounting pressure due to rising unilateralism, protectionism and political populism, which have posed significant threats and unpredictability to the global economy.

“We have also witnessed the weakening of some countries’ commitment to multilateralism and other countries turning away from the multilateral solutions,” he said.

Sokhonn said the Asem13 Summit will boost common desires and maintain a continued focus on the building of strong and comprehensive Asia-Europe partnerships.

The forum was attended by officials from various ministries and institutions, members of the National Assembly (NA) and thousands of students who enjoyed several exhibitions and performances.

Asem, Sokhonn said, not only mattered to Cambodia but to both continents and the world.

“Problems such as the Covid-19 outbreak, climate change, natural disasters, environmental pollution, illegal immigrants, non-traditional threats, terrorism and extremism cannot be resolved single-handedly by a single small or big country. Collaboration is the key,” he said.

Sokhonn said Asem now comprises of 53 partners that represented 65 per cent of global economies, 60 per cent of the global people, 55 per cent of global trading and 75 per cent of global tourism. Cambodia became an ASEM partner in 2004.

NA member Chheang Vun said at the event that the 13th Asem Summit will also include other side events such as the parliamentary meetings under the theme “Strengthening Parliamentary Partnerships for Peace and Sustainable Development”.

However, Sokhonn said many official events and conferences planned for many months in advance in different parts of the world are being cancelled or postponed, out of fear of the spread of Covid-19.

Sokhonn added that the Asean-US special summit in Las Vegas and the Asia-Europe Senior Officials’ Meeting retreat which was to be held from March 5-6 in Siem Reap had also been postponed.