The Asia-Europe Press Forum, held from 19th-21st September, 2004 in Seoul, Korea was hosted by Joong Ang IIbo and is an annual gathering of leading newspaper editors and journalists.
Originally named the Asia Press Forum, it was formed in 1996 to promote exchange and cooperation among leading editors and to provide Asia with a vision for the 21st century.
Topics for discussion included improved transcontinental relations, the role of the
United States and Asia’s rising influence as a major trade partner. There was strong interest in security on the Korean peninsula and on prospects for Korean reunification. The forum provided an opportunity for the active exchange of opinions from an international gathering of distinguished editors and journalists from 20 countries of Asia and Europe.
Participants represented quality papers like Le Monde, The Times, Die Welt, The Irish Times, NRC Handelsblad, La Vanguardia, Wyborcza, Kathimerini, Luxemburger Tageblatt, Lusomundo, Gazeta, Dagens Nyheter, JoongAng Ilbo, Nikkei Shimbun, Xinhua, Kompas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Borneo Bulletin, Vietnam News and The Straits Times.
William Pfaff, columnist of the International Herald Tribune, noted in his keynote speech that “regardless of who wins the US election this November, the US will increasingly reveal its difference from its allies of Asia and Europe”.
At the second session, keynote speaker, Kavi Chongkittavorn, the Assistant Group Editor of The Nation (Thailand), argued that while Europe was renewing itself as a common bloc, Asia was still engaged in exhausting debates, pointing out, “the Asian leaders have vision for the future but lack the courage and political will to make a new Asia.”
Dr. Albrecht Rothacher, ASEF’s Director for Public Affairs at the time, alluded to lessons East Asia could draw from European Integration and to experiences of German unification which would be useful to Korea.
The final day of this lively Press Forum kick-started with the Korean Political Leaders Roundtable session, which saw the participation of Lee Bu-young, Chairman of Uri Party and Park Geun-hye, the Chairwoman of Grand National Party.