At the 13th Foreign Ministers' Meeting of ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), held this year in Myanmar, the focus is on building peace and stability in Asia and Europe, implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and stepping up cooperation between Asian and European states. The head of Switzerland's delegation, FDFA State Secretary Pascale Baeriswyl, underscored the necessity for states to act jointly in efforts to restore peace and security and overcome other global, international and regional challenges. "If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together," she said, citing an African proverb. This joint engagement must include not only states and governments but also other actors from civil society, the private sector and the research community. In this context, the State Secretary invoked the motto of the 2030 Agenda: 'Leave no one behind'.
The Asia-Europe Meeting was launched in 1996 as an interregional forum, serving as a platform for multilateral dialogue between Europe and Asia on economic affairs, politics, education, culture, the environment and climate protection. The 51 ASEM member states and two organisations (EU and ASEAN Secretariat) represent around 60% of the world's population and account for roughly 60% of global trade. Switzerland joined ASEM in 2012, and its involvement in ASEM conferences facilitates bilateral contacts as well as regional links, for example with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with which Switzerland established a sectoral dialogue partnership in 2016.
While in Naypyidaw, State Secretary Baeriswyl attended a number of bilateral meetings with the representatives of several Asian and European states (including Austria, Bangladesh and Indonesia). The State Secretary also met with representatives of host country Myanmar. Their discussions covered not only peace and development issues but also the current situation in Rakhine State and in Bangladesh. Ms Baeriswyl urged the representatives to ensure unhindered access to the affected northern Rakhine region for humanitarian organisations, the protection of the civilian population and implementation of the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, as well as a credible, independent inquiry into the reports of serious human rights violations. She also offered Switzerland's assistance. Myanmar is a priority country in Switzerland's peace and development policy.
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