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Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Hungary

9th June 2011

"Working together on non-traditional security challenges"….

…is the slogan of the Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) now taking place in Godolo Royal Palace. Minister of State Jeremy Browne is representing the UK and has spoken about live foreign policy issues (the Arab Spring, Iran, Afghanistan, Burma and North Korea) and global economic developments (the rising significance of Asian economies to global prosperity, reform of the international financial institutions and free trade).


ASEM is the last Ministerial meeting taking place here under the Hungarian EU Presidency (there are some meetings of senior officials still to come). It is also the most complex logistically, with 49 delegations present – our Hungarian hosts have managed the technical issues very well.

It is important for Europe to engage with Asia in this way. There is separate US/Asia and US/EU engagement, and ASEM fills what would otherwise be a huge gap in the international dialogue. And as so often, the bilateral meetings around the main meeting are often as valuable (even more so) than the collective discussion, which is very formal given the large number of players. During some of the bilaterals, with Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, I occupy the UK chair until our Minister returns.

In fact the importance of the event was underscored by the attendance of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who spoke at the start of the meeting (and was rather dramatically interrupted by a lightning strike). This was only the second Ministerial meeting under the Hungarian Presidency which he has attended, again underlining its importance.