By FORMER SPEAKER JOSE C. DE VENECIA JR.
A few days from now, on April 5-7, 2019, the Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF), a major project of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), which we founded in Manila in September, 2000, will hold its third meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, hosted by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. President Sirisena had a successful visit to Manila recently and developed a close working relationship with President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Asia Europe Political Forum was organized by ICAPP in partnership with the European People’s Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR), and Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) in Seoul in 2017 to help forge closer political and economic ties between Asia and Europe. The Asian political parties had recent joint meetings with the Europeans in Seoul and London.
Seoul is home to the ICAPP secretariat, which we transferred from Manila in 2008 in the hope that it would facilitate closer engagement between the Republic of Korea’s capital Seoul and Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as the DPRK’s Korean Workers Party, is a member of ICAPP.
Another reason for our transfer of the ICAPP headquarters from Manila to Seoul in 2008 was our desire to contribute even in a small way in helping defuse tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang and perhaps help bring about a difficult but not impossible dream — the reunion of the two Koreas, following the earlier success and union of the two Germanys and the two Vietnams.
Going back to the Asia-Europe Political Forum, we in ICAPP and the major organizations of political parties in the European Parliament believe that the exchanges and cooperation between the Asian and European political parties will contribute to addressing common challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and perhaps make a dent in the never-ending struggle against poverty; as well as in advancing common causes of peace, security, and development in Asia and the international community.
The theme of the 3rd meeting in Colombo of our Asia-Europe Political Forum is “How political parties can handle the challenges of social security and employment of the increasing aging population as well as issues of current urgency in the Asian region.”
The last time we journeyed to Colombo was in September, 2013, during the 8th ICAPP General Assembly. Our 9th GA was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2016 and then 10th GA was in Moscow in October, 2018, hosted by the ruling United Russia Party led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Today, our indefatigable ICAPP secretary-general, former Ambassador to Moscow Park Ro-byug, and our active ICAPP Standing Committee member from Sri Lanka, Daya Gamage, minister of primary industries, social welfare, and social empowerment, are active in insuring the success of the joint Asia-Europe meeting in Sri Lanka’s emerald capital.
As we also mentioned earlier, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties will hold its 20th Founding Anniversary and 11th General Assembly in Manila next year in late 2020.
We are happy to note that from 40 political parties at its founding in Manila 18 years ago, ICAPP is now composed of some 350 ruling, opposition, and independent political parties in 52 countries in Asia.
Since its founding and establishment, ICAPP has grown steadily in its network, diversity and coverage, with the creation of its active subsidiary groups – the ICAPP Youth Wing, ICAPP Women’s Wing, ICAPP Media Forum, ICAPP-COPPPAL/Asian-Latin American Business Council (ICBC), Asia-Europe Political Forum (AEPF), and the Asian Cultural Council (ACC), established in SiemReap, Cambodia, two months ago, under the active leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen and encouragement of the royal family under His Majesty, King Norodom Sihamoni, parliamentarian Lt. Gen. Sous Yara, and women’s leader Khuon Sudary.
Former Cambodian Co-Premier and former Speaker Norodom Ranariddh, eldest son of the legendary late King Norodom Sihanouk, is now recovering from a serious car accident where his wife perished and is now enroute to reconciling with his first wife, Princess Marie, and the Royal Family and the Cambodian people are excited.
ICAPP has emerged as one of the largest political platforms and is bringing together political parties with diverse political ideologies to build mutual trust, friendship, and cooperation among our countries and peoples. In Europe, the Conservatives, Liberals, etc., have their separate individual groupings.
The ICAPP has expanded the scope of its dialogue to encompass political parties in Latin America under the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL) and in Africa under the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP).
Considering that the US is a major and well-established Asia-Pacific power and its relations with Asia are becoming increasingly important and complex, we in ICAPP believe it is now timely to open a channel for dialogue and, hopefully, to hold consultation meetings which would bring together Asian participants of ICAPP and members of the US Democratic Party and Republican Party.
We had written to an old friend, US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to consider an ICAPP-American political parties joint gathering in the US this year and also to invite her to address the ICAPP 20th anniversary in Manila in late 2020.
The New York- and Seoul-based Universal Peace Federation (UPF), of which we are chairman emeritus, is planning an “Assembly of Families” at the Luneta, in Manila, in December this year, to be participated hopefully by some 1.2 million people, expected to be one of the largest civic assemblies in our country’s history, according to UPF International Chairman Dr. Thomas Walsh, who is based in New York, UPF Asia Chairman Dr. Chung Sik Yong, and UPF Philippines President Julius Malicdem. UPF owns the well-regarded Washington Times published in the US capital.
UPF is a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing the cause of peace through cooperation and dialogue among countries and peoples, pioneered by its late founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his active widow Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon. UPF has members in 180 countries.
UPF, which has a general consultative status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), carries out humanitarian programs, service-learning projects, character education, and sports programs. Lately, it has launched some peacemaking initiatives.
UPF has an Asian version of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Sunhak Peace Prize, and has donated major cash awards in the last three years to major well-regarded recipients in Asia and Africa. Its board includes former Japan Defense Minister Yoshinori Ohno, former Luxembourg Parliament Speaker Erna Hennicot-Schoepges, this columnist, and Chairman Dr. Il-Sik Hong, former president of Korea University.