Text by Patricia Senge, Photos by Patricia Senge and Heiko Seibel
Throughout the five-day conference, the participants of the 7th Model ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) simulated the work of the Heads of State, including bilateral as well as multilateral meetings. After the conference 20 of the participants had the chance to stay in Ulaanbaatar for another five days to meet some of their Heads of State as well as to go to the ASEM 11 summit to experience the atmosphere of the Asia Europe Meeting first hand. Four of the Model ASEM delegates, namely the delegation of Switzerland, Myanmar, Slovakia and Mongolia, had the chance to take an active role in the opening ceremony of the summit with a speech, addressing the Heads of State with themes revolving around the connectivity between Asia and Europe. On this special occasion with European and Asian political heavyweights gathering in the splendid Shangri-La Hotel had the privilege to not only meet some of them in person, but getting in touch with many of the world’s most influential leaders in passing. As a consequence, plenty of short conversations developed and some of us even sat down with the delegation to drink a coffee and others exchanged their business cards. The whole morning was filled with memorable events. We would like to introduce some of the participants of the 7th Model ASEM.
Name: Ms Rum Cho
Country of origin: South Korea
Country Represented: Croatia
University: Kyung Hee University in Soul
With connectivity everything starts. We talk to each other to find a consensus which can lead to a better understanding of the differences between negotiation partners. I hope that over the conference we make a lot of friends and individually find out what makes each country so special. Also I believe that it is important for us to find solutions for recent problems we are facing. Coming from many different backgrounds, I believe, that we have different opinions and different viewpoints, which makes the discussions more lively and interesting.
Name: Nurhazirah Johari
Country of origin: Brunei Darussalam
Country representing: France (Head Delegate)
University: Technology Brunei studying Mechanical Engineering
Many participants are majoring in political science; I don’t as I am studying Mechanical Engineering. I actually had to study a lot more before I came to be able to represent my country (France). I am interested in different fields and I love to try things that I never thought of doing. My biggest challenge was the economic part, while issues concerning social problems are easier for me to discuss. I love how exploring new fields forces me to read and learn about the area. Also the preparation of this conference forced me to study more about France, I have been to the country and now I enjoy learning more about it. Also, I am looking forward to hear what the delegate from Brunei Darussalam will say about my country and it is nice to hear their point of view.
Name: Ms Sanja Hajdinjak
Country of Origin: Croatia
Country representing: Switzerland
University: Central European University in Budapest (Studies Political Economy)
Let’s face it Europe and Asia are the two growing regions and particularly because Europe has such great connection with America, basically Asia is the only one left out of that triangle. So if you want to facilitate some sort of development, especially local development, connectivity is the path Asia should take. For me the question of how to transfer economic growth that is already happening in Asia arises. We can see that already improvement regarding poverty on local level in China and in India has happened, and we can actually transform that not only in economic terms but also in social and environmental terms. So we will discuss how to ensure and guarantee equality among people and that no country is developing on the expense of another.
Name: Anoushé Zahoor
Country of Origin: Pakistan
Country Representing: Estonia
University: Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Law student
I love going to international conferences where you can meet different people. It attacks stereotypes – for instance I had a really weird perception about the Austrian- Hungary relationship because I met somebody who was from Austria who apparently had a weird notion towards Hungarians but then here I met other Austrians and realized that they are completely different. In my opinion a country gets more interesting when actually knowing and meeting someone from it. Compared to the EU, Asia is still far behind concerning connectivity. There is still a lot of room to strengthen the cooperation. The road China is currently building also goes to Pakistan which I think is going to be very helpful for our trade. Pakistan has a very agro based economy, we export a lot of wheat and rice – it will help us boost our economy and increase the living standards of the entire continent in my opinion.
Name: Anastasia Zharuk
Country of origin: Russia
Country representing: Poland
University: Graduated from Mongolia National University with a bachelor in International Business Management
For me the connection between Asia and Europe is very important, especially because my country is located in both of the regions. What I love about Asian culture is that they keep their traditions, such as Nadam.
I believe that cooperation creates a better world. Solutions to problems should be found together. We are living on this one earth and don’t have another one; thus we should try to cooperate to live sustainable. From conferences I not only learn about the positions of other countries but also and even more important the reasons of their stance. I am representing Poland and the polish position against Russia is rather strong – for me it was at first difficult and rather weird to argue as a polish delegate. I was fighting inside, but I gave my very best.
Name: Andy Chan
Country representing: Luxembourg
University: Singapore institute of management, (international relations)
For the past view decades Asia has been rising by itself, without any sort of cooperation. As time goes, by challenges cannot be faced by us anymore, which is why a certain level of integration that was never reached before was necessary. Through new challenges such as cyber security and terrorism cooperation between the continents started to be inevitable.
Attending international conferences has many benefits as I believe that it is good to expose youth to different views and cultures, when they are young to help them understand the world better. The elites, back when they were the youth, most likely did not have the same opportunities as we do today – they usually nowadays have a harder time understanding each other. With the rise of globalization, travelling becomes easier and it is easier to connect. I can talk to all my international friends through the Internet. We are currently raising a new generation of leaders. I am excited for the future. What kind of leaders will you see?
Name: Sara Tsadrat
Role at Model ASEM: Rapporteur
University: University of Glasgow (UK) studying Philosophy
There is a huge lack of information exchange between Asia and Europe and that leads to problems when it comes to negotiations. If I could I would love to increase connectivity through exchanging information and knowledge. For example if we would share knowledge about infrastructure from the West to the East. I would emphasis connectivity as sharing knowledge rather than talking about reaching destinations easier – as many people believe. Knowledge brings understanding, which connects us on a deeper level.
These projects are interesting as the facts that you study and the knowledge you have is completely based on the place you study it at. Especially when talking about history some countries have a rather nation biased education. The exchange of information at Model ASEM is something that is not easy accessible and makes the conference so interesting. It is knowledge that cannot have when going through one education system but you can have now through dialogue.
Country representing: Philippines
University: University of Edinborough in Scotland (Major Chinese)
I have always been interested in Asia. As I got older, I saw China as increasingly important and asked myself why China was mentioned so often in the news. As I have always been interested in languages I decided to study Chinese.
Something that is particularly unique about the relationship between Asia and Europe, is that both continents are deeply culturally important places and both continents place emphasis on it. This is closely related to identity.
Also a lot of Asian states do not appreciate the United States getting involved in political affairs, which leads to the European Union often acting as a mediator between the US’s position and Asia.
Name: Aqeel Malik
University: went to George Washington University and is practicing lawyer right now
Connectivity between Asia and Europe clears a lot of assumptions that we may have about each other and helps to a mutual understanding. Since our world is becoming a global village now, the distances are eliminating and we can feel it – connectivity increases.
ModelASEM helps the youth to have a hands on experience on negotiations, foreign policy and diplomacy between both continents. This forum is very relevant for the youth to learn about different issues that affect all of us, whether in Asia or in Europe, and to find a common ground as well as common solutions to the problems we are facing today.