ASEAN reiterates commitments to community, peacebuilding
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Marking its 45th anniversary, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reiterated its commitment to strengthening community and peacebuilding both within and beyond the region.
Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called on ASEAN member states to persevere with ASEAN community and peacebuilding ahead of the creation of the ASEAN Community in 2015.
“ASEAN, while it builds its community, must contribute to peacebuilding in our region ... They are things that must be nurtured, that must be built,” Marty said in his speech during the 45th anniversary celebration of ASEAN at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Marty expressed his confidence in ASEAN’s role within the region and globally, saying that ASEAN success in its vision and mission would not only contribute to regional well-being, stability and prosperity but also to the global community.
However, he called on all ASEAN member states to remain alert to deal with both challenges and opportunities.
“The situation today demands us to be very agile, to be very quick and responsive to many global and regional problems. I feel sure that the ASEAN Secretariat, as it has for so many years, will contribute to the problem-solving orientation of ASEAN,” he said.
ASEAN secretary-general, Surin Pitsuwan, emphasized the invaluable friendship with all ASEAN dialogue partners for the success of the region.
“We truly appreciate the work, the contribution and cooperation by you, our dialogue partners, as you have done so much,” said Surin. “You have responded effectively to the call to achieve ASEAN’s goals for the region.”
Permanent Representative of Cambodia to ASEAN, Ambassador Kan Paridh, underlined the importance of cooperation, stating, “We are mindful and aware of our challenges and tasks that lie ahead, but together we are confident we can overcome the challenges and build the ASEAN Community by 2015.”
Representing all dialogue partner countries, Ambassador Julian Wilson of the European Union (EU) echoed these sentiments by saying, “Regional integration is important. ASEAN succeeds because it is a good idea. Ten together achieves more than 10 apart.”
International expert and the Vice President’s deputy secretary for political affairs, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, noted that despite their differences, a sense of community had flourished among the people of ASEAN. They had a common dream to transform themselves into a community, she said.
When ASEAN was established in 1967, the founding fathers did not imagine that the association would become integrated, as it is now. “It used to be a minimalist association but now, who could have imagined that ASEAN would progress like this? We didn’t imagine that there would be political, cultural and economic integration.”
Acknowledging that the arrival of the ASEAN Community in 2015 would present challenges as well as opportunities for the region’s 500 million people, Dewi added that “each government should
prepare its people, so they are able to utilize the opportunities of the free market.”
ASEAN should reach out to its people and disseminate information, not only in broad brush strokes but also in detail. “Otherwise, people will resist what has been achieved by ASEAN,” Dewi warned.
Most of all, Dewi urged ASEAN to be unified and strong in its interactions with parties outside ASEAN. “If problems arise, ASEAN should speak with one voice. ‘ASEAN first’ must be the bottom line.”