Let me start by thanking Prime Minister Renzi and all his team wholeheartedly for hosting the 10th ASEM Summit in Milan. Italy has done a wonderful job.
We have just concluded our Summit – a major gathering of Asian and European leaders that occurs every second year. With more than 50 leaders in Milan and two new countries, Croatia and Kazakhstan joining, ASEM is showing its significance.
We are meeting in challenging times. Europe is working hard to overcome one of its most serious crisis in decades. We deepened the Economic and Monetary Union. The European Union is actively engaged in re-gaining economic growth and jobs based on private and public investment.
At the same time, the European security environment has undergone profound changes. The conflict in Ukraine has not yet found a political solution. And in our Southern borders instability pervades across the Middle East, extending into Northern Africa and the Sahel.
Our Asian partners are also confronted with challenges of their own, for some linked to the opening up their economies and societies or to the search of solutions to regional disputes. Both regions also face global challenges, such as climate change and are affected by non-traditional threats including extremism and terrorism. In such circumstances our bi-regional partnership, expressed here today in the shape of the ASEM Summit, becomes more relevant than ever. And we have seen this in our sessions.
Connectivity, linking our countries and our continents through means of transportation, but also through all means of communication, in particular digital communication, has been at the heart of our exchanges. It is about bringing our societies, our companies closer together, facilitating trade and investment, promoting the exchange of ideas and transfer of information and knowledge. We will all become more spiritually and materially prosperous through these exchanges. A number of important initiatives are underway. We have to encourage synergies. Europe needs Asia’s growth to jump-start its economy. Asia needs European markets, investment, technology.