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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article18 October 2018Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

Asia-Europe: a week of politics… and culture Celebrating the bonds between two continents


Today sees the start of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Cultural Festival, for the first time organised as a side-event of this week’s ASEM Summit, where Heads of State and Governments from both continents will exchange views on political, economic and cultural issues.

This edition of the festival, Europe Meets Asia, Asia meets Europe, marks the launch of a yearly tradition and underlines that the two continents not only have political and economic ties, but also very strong cultural bonds. Connectivity is therefore, not surprisingly, one of the big themes, along with heritage - a topic that has been in the spotlight throughout 2018 thanks to the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

For over two weeks, BOZAR will – thanks to Commission funding – host an eclectic mix of dance and theatre performances, digital and visual arts, film screenings and discussions, showing the creativity and cultural diversity of Asia and Europe.

Apart from an opening performance by Belgian visual artist Honoré δ'O, highlights include concerts by Filipino and Mongolian musicians, an Indian re-interpretation of Don Quixote, street art in the Galerie Ravenstein and a talk by two top architects from both continents.

Facebook and a police choir

In his digital-musical installation, especially crafted for the ASEM Cultural Festival, Honoré δ'O sets the tone and uses the mask as a means to focus on the real and imaginary boundaries between Europe and Asia.

Bringing French and Filipino songs together is what Filipina singer Katchry Jewel Golbin will do during her concert. At an early age she became enthralled with Edith Piaf's music, after which she taught herself French through Facebook and a computer programme. With an emotional interpretation of a song from the musical Les Misérables, she made a big impression in a French talent contest and since then she has always been performing with a mixed repertoire. During the festival she will be accompanied by compatriots on the piano and cello.

The 12th biennial ASEM Summit takes place in Brussels on 18 and 19 October, with the theme Global Partners for Global Challenges. Participants will discuss financial, economic, international and regional issues; global challenges such as climate change, terrorism and migration; and Europe-Asia connectivity.

Connectivity is a cross-cutting theme at this year's Summit, and the EU will present its Sustainable Connectivity Portal, developed by the JRC in collaboration with Asian and European connectivity experts. The portal is an innovative tool to visualise how well Asia and Europe are connected in a broad range of fields: tourism, culture, research, transport, energy, ICT, the legal domain and many others. In addition, on 19 September the Commission and HR/VP Mogherini adopted a Joint Communication setting out a new strategy to better connect Europe and Asia, including policy proposals and initiatives to improve connections through interoperable transport, energy and digital networks.

ASEM brings together 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the EU and the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Together they represent 60% of the world's population, 65% of the global economy, 55% of trade worldwide and 75% of global tourism.

Katchry's fellow Asian musician Ariunbaatar Ganbaatar is completely prepared to take on BOZAR's 'Salon Europa' for his performance. The baritone has been singing Mongolian folk songs since he was a little boy and managed to get into university where he got his first singing lesson. Unfortunately, his money ran out to pay the fees, so he joined the traffic police. After a solo performance with the police choir in Siberia, the Buryat State Theatre immediately recruited him. Since then he has performed in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, New York and Buckingham Palace.


And how about an innovative retelling of the Spanish masterpiece Don Quixote? The adventures of the ingenious nobleman will be brought to the stage by Margi Kathakali, a master of the Indian Kathali tradition, a mixture of dance, theatre and mime.

Spain and Asia meet once again in the Galerie Ravenstein, where street artist Miguel Ángel Belinchón Bujes and his Filipino counterpart Wesley Valenzuela will create a mural called Faces at a crossroad.



More similarities and differences between Asia and Europe will come to light during a conversation between leading Chinese and Belgian architects Wang Shu and Paul Robbrecht, who will speak about the role of cultural heritage in architecture. Before their talk, recently graduated architecture students from Korea, China and Europe will present their projects, which have been nominated for the Young Talent Architecture Award, part of the EU Prize for Contemporary Architecture.


EU’s Partnership Instrument

The ASEM Cultural Festival is funded by the EU’s Partnership Instrument, which enables the EU to advance its strategic interests, shape global change and promote its fundamental values. Through the Partnership Instrument, the EU cooperates with partners around the world to address global challenges and find joint solutions to issues of mutual interest.

The ASEM Cultural Festival runs from 18 to 30 October.

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Publication date
18 October 2018
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments