Tag Archives: Asia

The climate change threat vs the growth conundrum

Photo by Theresa Cua - ASEF

Budapest – It is an indication of how pervasive the threat of climate change has become that the foreign ministers of some of the world’s most powerful and wealthy countries should address it as a “security challenge,” albeit a “non-traditional” one. Climate change, along with nuclear safety, terrorism, piracy and organized crime were among the topics discussed by the diplomats when they met for the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Godollo, near Budapest in Hungary, on June 6 and 7.

However, it was climate change more than any other issue that fed into the various strands of the debate between the Asian and European ministers. Consider, for instance, some of the other topics now regarded as “non-traditional security challenges”: energy security, food and water security, inclusive growth and poverty reduction. These are all issues that are affected in one way or another by the environmental debate.

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Europe and Asia to work together to fight piracy

Godollo, Hungary – Asian and European countries, including Greece, have agreed to cooperate more closely to tackle piracy off the coast of Somalia, which has been a particular problem for Greek-owned ships.

In a statement issued at the 10th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers (ASEM) in Godollo, near Budapest in Hungary, the 48 members of ASEM described the frequent attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Aden as “a major security threat” to international maritime safety.

Piracy is estimated to cost shipping companies up to $12 billion a year, as insurance costs skyrocket.

While agreeing that a key to tackling the problem is to support, under the auspices of the United Nations, measures to establish law and order in Somalia and to encourage sustained economic development in the region, the ASEM partners, who comprise 60 percent of the world’s trade, agreed that they should work together to tackle the actual practice of piracy.

“Emphasis should be laid on the development of a long-term approach and on support for regional cooperation frameworks, including in the area of capacity-building through concrete activities such as information-sharing, training of officials and holding joint naval exercises as and when appropriate,” the ministers’ statement said.

The European Naval Force, Navfor, is currently patrolling the area but activity from gangs remains high. A Greek-owned freighter with 23 seamen on board was seized just last month. As of May, pirates in Somalia were thought to be holding more than 25 vessels. Over 400 sailors are currently being held hostage, the highest number since 2007.

Piracy has become a multi-million industry for the gangs, who demand large ransoms for the release of the vessels they seize.

In the most recent incident, Somali pirates released a Greek-owned, Cyprus-flagged ship for a reported ransom of $6 million. The MV Eagle, a 52,163-deadweight-ton merchant vessel and its crew of 24 Filipinos that was seized in January about 500 miles south-west of Oman, while it was en route to India from Jordan.

The theme of this year’s ASEM meeting, which concluded on Tuesday, was “non-traditional security challenges,” which energy security, climate change, growth and poverty reduction.

Nick Malkoutzis

Maintaining momentum in the climate change debate

I have been fortunate to take part for the past two days in the 6th Asia-Europe Journalists’ Seminar in Szentendre, Hungary, which has been organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) in conjunction with the 10th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Our main topic of discussion has been the climate change debate and the role that the media can or should play in it. The meeting has provided a fascinating insight into the often different but sometimes converging views and experiences of climate change in Europe and Asia. It is clear that the need for action on both continents is becoming more urgent by the day. It is equally clear that the media has to play a role in informing the public about the growing challenges and opportunities that are emerging on both sides of the globe.

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