Friday, 24 February 2023, Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, Germany: The East Asian Association Bremen (OAV) hosted its traditional foundation celebration for the 122nd time. It is part of the tradition that ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific region sign the Golden Book of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen on this occasion.
Kristina Vogt, Senator for Economic, Labour and European Affairs, welcomed diplomats from thirteen countries to the Senate Chamber: namely from Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Maldives and Philippines. Senator Vogt represented Mayor Dr. Andreas Bovenschulte, who was attending the peace devotion on the first anniversary of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, at the Senate’s pre-reception.
Senator for Economic Affairs Kristina Vogt said as per statement below in its original German-language version: “The East Asian Association Bremen and its foundation festival are outstanding institutions for Bremen. For more than 120 years, they have promoted the internationalisation of Bremen’s economy to a special degree. The countries of Asia are important partners for our location and dynamic drivers of innovation. Of course, Singapore in particular should be mentioned here, which is the focus of this year’s Foundation Festival.”
The traditional temple gong then called the approximately 360 guests to the banquet in the Upper Hall of the Town Hall, where they were solemnly welcomed by OAV Chairman Thomas Kriwat (Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka) through a short speech. Mayor Dr. Andreas Bovenschulte also attended the banquet, which traditionally features curry.
In his welcome address, the Mayor underlined Bremen’s connections to the world and the importance of the Foundation Festival: “I am sure that Asia will continue to gain in importance for Germany and also for Bremen in the future.” In this context, the entire Indo-Pacific region must be given greater attention, Bovenschulte said: “Here, too, Germany’s goal is to reduce dependencies, develop partnerships on an equal footing and take mutual security interests into account.” The OAV has been doing valuable work in this sense for over 120 years. With regard to the relationship with China, the mayor made it clear that in addition to economic contacts, “open political dialogue” was also needed: “Constructive where possible, critical where necessary. For despite all political differences, “it is still true that it is better to talk ‘with’ China than ‘about’ it”.
This year’s guests of honour at the Foundation Festival are the author Sabine Hein and Dr. habil May-Britt U. Stumbaum from the Bundeswehr University in Munich.
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