ASEF will be organising 3 key side-events alongside the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM FMM12) this November in Luxembourg: the 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium, ASEF Young Leaders’ Summit 2015 and the Photo Exhibition On the Go. In this interview, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, Mr Jean ASSELBORN, highlights some of the priorities of Luxembourg during ASEM FMM12 as well as Luxembourg’s deep interest in the work of ASEF.
Luxembourg will be hosting the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEM FMM12). What does Luxembourg hope to achieve in hosting this meeting?
Luxembourg is a founding member of ASEM and ASEF and ever since has been very supportive of the informal dialogue process and cooperation aiming at strengthening Asia-Europe relations. The ASEM FMM12 will coincide with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the EU Council. Critical topics such as sustainable development, preparation of the COP 21 Conference in Paris, as well as economic growth and job creation will be very high on the international agenda and will certainly be part of the ASEM FMM12 agenda along with topics like connectivity and the future of ASEM.
ASEM will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2016. We are thus at an important crossroads where we need to look back at past achievements and at the same time pave the road for the next decade of this unique partnership.
Crisis reporting and disaster preparedness are high on Luxembourg’s agenda. Why is this a priority for Luxembourg and what lessons does it hold for ASEM countries?
For Luxembourg, disaster risk reduction (DRR) is an essential element to ensure sustainable development. On average, over 200 million people worldwide are affected by disasters each year and economic losses are growing exponentially. Our commitment to DRR is a longstanding investment in building a safer world for everyone. Since 2006 Luxembourg has allocated at least 5% of its annual budget for humanitarian affairs to prevention, disaster preparedness and risk mitigation programmes. Luxembourg consistently supports the coordination work undertaken by the United Nations Secretariat of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
With the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, Luxembourg took the initiative to strengthen its disaster preparedness capacities by setting up a mobile satellite telecommunication platform, Emergency.lu. Established as a public-private partnership, the platform has, since its launch in 2011, been at the disposal of the humanitarian community, to ensure access to communication via satellite in affected areas, in the immediate aftermath of catastrophes or conflicts. The Emergency.lu toolkit has been deployed in 2013 in the Philippines as a response to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan and more recently in Eastern Africa in response to the Ebola crisis.
Luxembourg has showcased Emergency.lu at the ASEM Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management held in Hanoi in November 2013 and at the ASEM Roundtable on Innovations in Technologies for Disaster Rescue Efforts held in New Delhi in December 2014 and it will be introduced at the 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium, which will take place on the side-lines of the ASEM FMM12. As an additional evidence of its commitment to mitigate the impact of disasters, Luxembourg has joined the ASEM initiative of areas of tangible cooperation on Disaster Management and Mitigation, Building Rescue and Relief Capacities, Technologies and Innovation in Rescue Equipment & Techniques.
ASEF will be organising the 10th ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium on Crisis Reporting in Luxembourg on the side-lines of the ASEM FMM12. Why is it important to engage journalists more closely with the ASEM process?
Since the early days of ASEF, Luxembourg has been very keen in supporting its projects. Luxembourg’s Governor to ASEF and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jacques POOS, was 40 years ago the Director and the Editor-in-chief of a major daily newspaper in Luxembourg. Therefore he took an immediate interest in the ASEF Journalists’ Colloquium project. We believe that ASEM has a good story to tell about dialogue and cooperation between the 2 regions and I like the idea of bringing together journalists from Asia and Europe during the FMM to foster mutual understanding and exchange views and experience on their ways to cover the news.