President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called for stronger unity and economic ties among ASEAN member countries to ensure peace and stability in the region during his address at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos.
"We cannot allow instability to occur in the region around us. We cannot allow big countries to control and determine the fate of the security and stability of the region around us," Jokowi said on Tuesday in his remarks at the plenary meeting of the 28th ASEAN Summit, according to a press statement from the Presidential Press Bureau.
Jokowi pointed to the region's large population, which consists of over 600 million people, as one of the reasons behind the need to strengthen unity.
"Without the unity and centrality of ASEAN, I am sure that the role of ASEAN as an important contributor to the security and stability of the region will disappear. And if that happens, then the future of ASEAN will be bleak," Jokowi further said.
Jokowi urged the leaders of ASEAN countries to strengthen economic ties among fellow member states in ways that would benefit all parties evenly and minimize the development gap among member states.
The involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the development of technology and innovation must be included, as well as the expansion of access to finance and markets, Jokowi added.
He also asked for ASEAN to be an organization that looks after its people, including the protection of migrant workers. (rin)