By Patricia Senge
The Thematic Working Groups covering political, economic and socio-cultural issues have started their second round on Thursday the July 7 2016 during the 7th Model ASEM in Ulaanbaatar. Overnight, four delegations of the political pillar have sat together to draft a Chair’s statement with topics discussed over the day with the entire political pillar. Refugees and migration was the first topic on the agenda and while suggestions such as the creation of frameworks to tackle issues were immediately passed by consensus, others such as an increased information exchange got rejected and did not find their way into the final draft document. During discussions about the identification of routes taken by refugees and the strengthening of security measures, the delegations had different positions and long discussions were in order. The delegation of ASEAN Secretariat suggested to provide refugees with secure routes to offer a safe travel and to ensure that countries in Europe such as Serbia know where refugees would enter the country, which would help the organization process. The delegations of Myanmar, Indonesia and Denmark raised the concern that the set up of such routes is difficult and cannot always be secured. Moreover, all refugees have diverse priorities. Denmark further stated that identifying and setting routes is certainly not going to help any of the nations as people are innovative in finding alternative and new routes, thus, a facilitated organization in Europe cannot be guaranteed. Due to the time limit the issue was not further discussed and as a solution the Chair’s Statement reads as follows:

“Model ASEM leaders identified the need to evolve sustainable solutions to the problem of migration by cooperating in the identification of irregular migration routes and accordingly strengthening current security systems.”

During the discussions especially the delegation of Japan and of the ASEAN Secretariat seemed to disagree with the majority. “It was very hard to find a consensus because the positions of the countries are very different. Unfortunately, we had to discuss so much in such a short period of time, it was obvious that we sometimes had to go with the easy option and move on to another topic even though we were not fully happy with the statement.”, states the delegation of ASEAN Secretariat. In fact, it is true that many topics have been discussed during the two working days. Examples are terrorism and sustainable goals. “Our Asian partners, especially the developing ones, stressed the need of information sharing and knowledge as well as technology exchange. The ideas were warmly welcomed by our European partners. What surprised me, however, was that Slovakia was prepared to fully support the entirety of Bulgaria’s environmental development need.” The ASEF reporter responsible for the political pillar, Sarah, further emphasizes that there was a huge commitment to financial and technological support.

The chair seems content with the overall work of his pillar. With the words “Delegates you have done a very great job defending your national interests and in international cooperation.”Mr. Fei Yu from China closes the Working Group. One of the biggest challenges the group was facing concerned the time restraint of two days and only being able to include three points of each 100 words in the Chair’s statement. As the group had more than three points the decision which points to include in the final chair’s statement was passed to the chairs to decide.

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