On 25 and 26 November 2021, the thirteenth Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit was held in virtual form. The key theme of this summit of the leaders of European and Asian member states was the promotion of effective multilateralism for common growth and a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister attended the event in his capacity as President of the EU Council and Coordinator for the European Group.
The closing press conference, which was also attended by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Chairman of the 13th ASEM Summit, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mishustin, and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that over the years ASEM has proven to be a unique forum for promoting dialogue and cooperation. “Europe and Asia gain much more from cooperation than from confrontation. Key global issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, migration and extremisms require cooperation and dialogue.” He highlighted mutual solidarity as an important principle of the European Union’s functioning.
The circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have, on the one hand, encouraged the widespread digitalisation of the economy, public administrations and our private lives, and, on the other, demonstrated the need for greater resilience from our social systems. This is why Slovenia has placed these two areas – digitalisation and strengthening resilience – among the top priorities of its Presidency of the Council of the EU.
In this case, resilience does not mean defying crises, but the ability to react and recover quickly after a crisis. This requires dynamic systems and our continuous activity. We need situational awareness, which will result in better forecasting and predicting and more accurate identification of risks.
At the press conference, the Prime Minister recalled the recently adopted Council conclusions on resilience: “I am pleased to say that on Tuesday, the General Affairs Council adopted conclusions on enhancing preparedness, responsive capability and resilience to future crises. Under the leadership of the Slovenian Presidency, the EU has paved the way for greater resilience and better preparedness for potential crises in various areas.”
It is the latter that connects the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency with the common challenges and interests of both Europe and Asia.
On digitalisation, the Prime Minister said that it is certainly a stimulus for economic growth, which, however, requires the set up of a secure digital environment within which the fundamental rights of users will be guaranteed and protected. Slovenia is committed to an ethical framework for the use of artificial intelligence.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with the documents adopted at the summit, which recognise an opportunity within the COVID-19 recovery to accelerate the green and digital transition and connectivity, and promote resilience and sustainable and inclusive recovery.
In addition to delivering an address at the opening of the event, Prime Minister Janša participated in the panel entitled “COVID-19 and Socio-Economic Recovery and Development”.