Ladies and Gentlemen,
European and Asian partners of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) will hold their 8th Summit in Brussels on Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th of October 2010 in the historical premises of the Royal Palace in the centre of Brussels: the capital of Belgium and the heart of the European Union. This biennial meeting at Head of State and Head of Government level provides an outstanding political opportunity to pursue dialogue on issues of common concern between two important regions. For my country, this is a great honor.
ASEM 8 will also involve non-governmental actors. Asians and Europeans will engage with each other in a number of parallel events. Representatives of civil society, NGOs and labour associations will gather in the Asia-Europe People’s Forum and address their recommendations to the Summit participants. Likewise, business leaders and chief officers of financial companies will meet at the Asia-Europe Business Forum to design and put forward initiatives that will pull region to region trade and investment out of the slump and bring business communities closer together. Finally, the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting will address current issues from its own parliamentary perspective.
I personally attach great importance to these events and trust that they will make of ASEM 8 not only an event for the leaders of the region but also for their people.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Kingdom of Belgium