Ten years have passed since the first gathering of leaders at the inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Bangkok, Thailand in 1996. ASEM, created as a forum for informal dialogue among 25 Heads of State and Government (15 from European Union and 10 from ASEAN+3) and the President of the European Commission, has grown into a process that is being emulated by other countries in the effort to foster a continuing dialogue based on mutual understanding and respect. During this time the process has also grown in the number of participating countries, including now 38 Heads of State and Government (25 from European Union and 13 from ASEAN+3) and the President of the European Commission.
The Model Asia-Europe Meeting (Model ASEM) is a constructed framework to perform a simulation of an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Just like the real ASEM, the Model ASEM has the objective to create a greater understanding between the people from Europe and Asia. The purpose of the model is to deepen the knowledge of the ASEM process, its structure and political process. It will also contribute to a greater understanding for other countries and cultures in terms that young people from all over the world come together and work together, as well as a general enlightened understanding for international conferences and negotiations in general. Model ASEM will also offer a unique dialogue and discussion platform addressing major international issues of common interest to students from both Europe and Asia, such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in Iraq, in the Middle East or in Afghanistan.
Awareness of the ASEM process still remains relatively low, particularly at the level of ordinary citizens and members of civil society. Although numerous initiatives have been and are being established under the impetus of ASEM, further action is called for to bring forward the message of ASEM to the level of the peoples in Asia and Europe. During the Fourth ASEM Summit held in 2002 in Copenhagen, Denmark, emphasis was made in the Chairman's Statement on
"the importance of education, narrowing the digital divide and equal access to information [---] in overcoming and preventing pre-conceived opinions, stereotypes and prejudices among present and future ASEM generations".
Also, during the Fifth ASEM Summit held in 2004 in Hanoi, Vietnam, emphasis was made in the Chairman's Statement how
“the [---] dialogue and cooperation among cultures and civilizations is one of effective measures to enhance understanding and tolerance among people, [underlining its] importance [---] in preserving world peace, security and cooperation for development, particularly in context of globalization”.
Even though the real ASEM has been mainly preoccupied with economic issues until today, social issues must no longer be ignored in the Asian-European dialogue. In cognisance of the initiatives to build networks and enhance co-operation between Asia and Europe at the bi-regional level, the Asia-Europe University Alumni Network (ASEFUAN) was founded to complement existing efforts to promote better understanding between the peoples of Asia and Europe by institutions such as the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), as well as to contribute to the development of societies in both regions through meaningful intercultural dialogue particularly among the younger generation, all based on the principles of mutual respect and equality.
The Model Asia-Europe Meeting takes place in this context: Model ASEM aims to facilitate a similar dialogue process among youth in Asia and Europe at the university level.