“The Asian Conference provides us with an opportunity to pool our wisdom and promote concrete efforts to cope with emerging global security challenges,” said Ambassador Shin Chae-Hyun, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the OSCE, while opening the conference.
Ambassador Lee Taeho, Vice Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, said that we live in a world where a single country cannot manage the entirety of comprehensive security. “The global challenges that the world faces today, such as infectious diseases, environmental risks, and cybersecurity threats, call for global solutions and transnational governance,” he said. “The Republic of Korea remains steadfast in nurturing trust-building dialogues and facilitating multilateral security co-operation in Northeast Asia and beyond, to establish permanent peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.”
Ambassador Ingrid Brocková, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, on behalf of the OSCE Asian partners for Co-operation Group’s Chair, said that multilateralism is being challenged now more than ever. “While the international community got comfortable speaking up in favour of multilateralism on many occasions, its actions, in some cases, tell a different story,” she said. “The need to respond collectively to challenges in various areas such as health, education, environment and climate change, digital agenda, technology and innovation has become even more urgent.”
Participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted security challenges that everybody faces, despite geographical distance.
Tuula Yrjölä, OSCE Officer-in-Charge/Secretary General, Director of Conflict Prevention Centre, said that in these uncertain times, maintaining a co-operative spirit can no longer be taken for granted. “It is all the more important that we reinforce each other in the firm conviction that addressing global security challenges requires teamwork, close co-operation and institutionalized links that we can rely on – in fair weather and in times of trouble,” said Yrjölä.
These messages were reinforced by Agron Tare, Deputy Foreign Minister of Albania, representing the 2020 Albanian OSCE Chairmanship. “Multilateralism is under siege. Our principles and values are being tested. Divergent security perceptions are eroding the common efforts of international organizations. There is too little trust. Too little compromise. Too little solidarity. As a result, our co-operation, our stability, and our security is suffering. We all know we have a problem. And we need to step up,” said Tare.
The event that takes place on the 25th anniversary of the OSCE Asian Partnership and covers all three dimensions of security: regional confidence- and security-building measures, a recurring theme for the OSCE Asian Partnership; mitigating trans-border environmental risks and challenges, disaster risk reduction and preparedness responses in times of COVID-19; and the nexus between security and access to information, similarities and differences in approaches to the pandemic.