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1 Eur. Foreign Aff. Rev. 185 (1996)
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): A Historical Turning Point in Relations between the Two Regions

handle is hein.kluwer/eurofa0001 and id is 189 raw text is: European Foreign Affairs Review 2:185-210, 1996                             185
© 1996 Kluwer Law International. Printed in the Netherlands.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): A Historical Turning Point in
Relations Between the Two Regions
I Origins
The idea for a Europe-Asia meeting of political leaders was first expressed
and approved at the World Economic Forum Business Conference held in
Singapore in September 1994 (1994 Europe/East Asia Economic Summit). I
The initiative for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was subsequently
launched by Singapore and endorsed by the Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN)2 'which in the nineties found itself in a position in which
it was expected to play a significant role in the establishment of structures of
cooperation that go far beyond the Southeast Asian region' .3
Mr Goh Chok Tong, Prime Minister of Singapore, officially proposed the
notion of such a meeting to French Prime Minister Balladur during the
course of his state visit in October 1994 to France. However, it was quite
clear that during his earlier visit to Germany and England in April, the idea
that Europe and Asia should be brought together in a more institutionalized
form of cooperation had already been expressed. What might have increased
Mr Goh's optimism at that time was the level of German enthusiasm towards
Asia. While Britain had been traditionally known for its 'leanings' towards
Asia resulting from its past involvement in the region, the new German inter-
est was something little known in the region. This interest was best concep-
tualized in a paper made public in Bonn in October 1993, at the behest of
Chancellor Kohl. The paper, entitled 'The Federal Government's Concept of
Asia' argued that Germany (and Europe as a whole) had to squarely face the
* Adviser reporting to the Deputy Director-General, DGI.
This article reflects the opinion of its author and not necessarily that of the European Commission.
I Point (7) of 'The Programme for Action' of the 1994 Europe-East Asia Economic Summit, organ-
ized by the World Economic Forum, states: 'the existing mechanisms for cooperation between Europe
and the East Asia Economic Summit need to be put in the broader context of a Europe/East Asia Summit
at the level of heads of government'. The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was part of the main stream of
the 1995 Economic Summit, again held in Singapore.
2 ASEAN countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the latest to
be incorporated Vietnam (July, 1995). New ASEAN members can be Laos and Cambodia (joining in
1997) and Myanmar (2000) forming a definitive total number of ten countries.
3 H. Soesastro and J. Wanandi, Towards an Asia-Europe Partnership: A Perspective from Asia (Centre
for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, 1996); B. Singh, The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM): A
Searchjbr a New Order or Balance of Power? (European Institute for Asian Studies, Brussels, 1996).
Copyright' 2007 by Kluwer Law International. All rights reserved.
No claim asserted to original government works.

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