SINGAPORE : The Asia—Europe Foundation (ASEF) celebrated its 15th anniversary on Thursday.
The occasion was marked by an awards ceremony for the first Asia—Europe Short Films Contest.
It was presided over by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who had conceived the idea of an institution to develop Asia—Europe ties back in 1996.
In his keynote address, Mr Goh said ASEF has come a long way since its establishment, adding that when ASEF was first founded, many had doubts about its functions, and its ability to stay relevant.
He praised the foundation’s efforts in facilitating collaboration between the two geographic regions, in areas ranging from public health to education.
In 2011, for instance, ASEF undertook 162 programmes and projects in Singapore, as well as other countries in Asia and Europe. This included the 10th Asia—Europe Classroom Network Conference in Dundalk, Ireland, which saw the participation of educators from 33 ASEM partners.
Mr Goh also presented awards to winners of the contest.
He stressed the importance of the foundation to continue adapting to new challenges.
He said: "ASEF’s constituency has grown to cover 48 countries in Asia and Europe, from Portugal all the way to New Zealand. While this broad geographical footprint makes ASEF unique, it also creates considerable operational difficulties for ASEF.
"Building people—to—people ties between two regions as diverse as Asia and Europe is a challenge. ASEF needs to continue to be highly creative in its programming and prudent in its finances, to remain relevant and sustainable."
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