I cordially thank you for accepting my invitation to this first-ever meeting of the Foreign Ministers from the Asia-Pacific region within the context of the Community of Democracies and welcome you all to Mongolia. Asia is the only region in the world where emerging regional bodies do not yet include democracy pillars in their broader political, security, and socio-economic mandates.
Asian democracies are challenged today. The number of democracies in Asia is gradually increasing although painfully slow. Some regional powers are still authoritarian in nature, some of which enjoy rapid economic growth whereas economies of the established democracies stagnated due to political polarization.
In this situation, Asia Pacific Foreign Minister’s meeting under the structure of CD provides a broader platform for regional democracies to gather and discuss the immediate problems they face. Asian Democracies should collaborate closer to overcome the common challenges ahead.
This meeting also opens the door for multilateral dialogue of regional democracies for discussing concrete steps that can be taken both to elevate the role of democratic governance as a fundamental element of the regional agenda and to strengthen civil society’s role within Asia’s regional architecture. Fostering regional cooperation of the democracies and democratizations in Asia was therefore stated one of the five priorities during its Presidency that Mongolia has put forward two years ago.
As the first step to fulfill this priority goal, Mongolia together with the Republic of Korea proposed back in 2011 an Asian Partnership Initiative for Democracy. The Republic of Korea as the co-chair of the CD Working Group on Regional Cooperation has been very active in advocating such cooperation.
APID should be focused on strengthening democracy in the Asia Pacific region and it should function as a forum of the Asia Pacific Democracies within the CD. Asians have colorful cultural heritages and long history; and challenges and opportunities for democracies in Asia usually come from this cultural and historical background. Therefore, experiences dealing with these challenges might be more helpful and promising than those in Europe or North America. Mongolia has also promoted the idea of establishing an Asia-wide mechanism of cooperation among the civil society organizations in the region. Not only governments, but also civil societies in whole Asia Pacific have to exchange their experiences to strengthen their democracies at home. This initiative has been just materialized with the launching of the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) an hour ago.
We have invited several representatives of the newly established ADN from different sub regions to our meeting to brief us of their new network.
That is a brief introductory before we start taking up our agenda items.