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International Conference of Southeast Asian Students in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

The Indonesian Students Association in Germany and its Frankfurt and nearby branches (PPI Jerman and PPI Frada) have organized an international student conference entitled “Southeast Asian Student Summit: ASEAN Can Do More”. This event was a collaboration with the German non-profit organization Europa Union Frankfurt and supported by the Consulate General and Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Germany (KJRI Frankfurt and KBRI Berlin). The international conference was held in conjunction with the Southeast Asian culinary festival in Frankfurt on June 4, 2022. 

The agenda highlighted various themes including ASEAN, the relationship between the European Union (EU) and ASEAN, and the Sustainable Development Goals. The conference was open to the public and attended by students studying in Germany, especially students from Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand. Around 50 participants attended offline in Frankfurt, while around 30 others attended online.

The opening session was started by PPI Jerman’s Chairman Reza Syihabuddin Khasbullah and continued with remarks from Klaus Klipp, President of the Europa Union Frankfurt e.V, who introduced the European Union Frankfurt organization and expressed his support for the SEA Student Summit 2022 event. He also emphasized that young people are the key to close ASEAN and EU cooperation in the future. The activity was then opened by the Deputy Chief of Mission of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Yul Edison. In his speech, he appreciated PPI Jerman‘s initiative to create this event and encouraged Southeast Asian students in Germany to continue to collaborate and form an ASEAN community in Germany. 

The opening session was started by PPI Jerman’s Chairman Reza Syihabuddin Khasbullah and continued with remarks from Klaus Klipp, President of the European Union Frankfurt e.V, who introduced the European Union Frankfurt organization and expressed his support for the SEA Student Summit 2022 event. He also emphasized that young people are the key to close ASEAN and EU cooperation in the future. The activity was then opened by the Deputy Chief of Mission of Indonesia to the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Yul Edison. In his speech, he appreciated PPI Jerman‘s initiative to create this event and encouraged Southeast Asian students in Germany to continue to collaborate and form an ASEAN community in Germany. 

The first session began with a seminar on “Unlocking ASEAN’s Potentials” with Dr. R. M. Marty M. Natalegawa, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia from 2009 to 2014 and author of the book “Does ASEAN Matter? A View from Within”. He explained the positive impact and importance of the ASEAN community in assisting the development and growth of each country. Dr. Marty also expressed his support for this activity because according to him, the future of ASEAN is in the hands of its youth, so hopefully, this activity can be a starting point for Southeast Asian youth, especially in Germany, to unite and rise together.

Furthermore, in the second session, Michael Gahler, Member of the European Parliament (CDU) and the International Relations Committee for the Federal Republic presented the topic “ASEAN Through the Eyes of the EU”. In this second session, he explained that cooperation between the EU and ASEAN will increase especially with the Strategic Partnership starting at the end of 2020.

In the third session, H.E. Robert Matheus Michael Tene gave a presentation on “ASEAN Now and the Future”. The ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) for Security Political Community said in his presentation that the ASEAN consensus is very important to maintain security and political stability in Southeast Asia and strengthen cooperation between countries.

In the fourth session, Dr. Jürgen Ratzinger, Head of the Department of International Relations and Managing Director of the Frankfurt Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IHK Frankfurt) presented the topic “EU-ASEAN Economic Partnership”. In this session, he explained that ASEAN is one of the EU’s strategic business partners and ASEAN has enormous economic potential and rapid economic development.

In the last session, participants went through group discussions in small groups, which allowed all participants to discuss and provide solutions to problems arising in the ASEAN community. Topics discussed included “Sustainable Development Goals” with a focus on Climate Action, Quality Education, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Decent Work & Economic Growth and Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions. The participants were asked questions that could provide solutions that could be implemented in the ASEAN community. After that, each group presented the results of the discussion in front of all other participants. This presentation session was enthusiastically welcomed by the participants, which can be seen from the active question and answer session between participants. 

After attending this conference, participants are expected to have a deeper and better understanding of ASEAN as future youth in the ASEAN community. In addition, participants are expected to start building networks among ASEAN students in Germany and work together to achieve their goals and contribute to the ASEAN community. In the long run, the ASEAN Student Summit aims to enhance ASEAN identity among youth and motivate youth to create a better ASEAN in the future.

Running alongside the conference was a culinary festival with menus from various countries in Southeast Asia. One of the goals of this culinary festival is to promote culinary diplomacy and introduce food and drinks in Southeast Asia. 

This activity is the first Southeast Asian student conference held in Germany. In closing, Mr. Acep Somantri, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Frankfurt congratulated the committee and participants who participated in seminars and workshops for a full day. In addition, the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia Frankfurt conveyed the importance of ASEAN identity, efforts to promote the role of youth and children in ASEAN, ASEAN-Germany, and ASEAN-EU relations, and plans to organize the Indonesia Festival Frankfurt (IFF) 2022 which also invited representatives of other ASEAN member countries in Frankfurt. In closing, the Indonesian Consul General Frankfurt encouraged the SEA Student Summit 2022 participants to strengthen ties, networks, and cooperation among ASEAN students in Germany.

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