ASEAN enjoy good odds to stay on track, notwithstanding daunting challenges
PHNOM PENH, 8 August, 2012 – With just two years to go, ASEAN must press ahead to realise its objective of an ASEAN Community by 2015, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Speaking to hundreds (tbc) of guests from the diplomatic, government, business, academic, and social communities, the Cambodian leader issued the rally call for the regional group to stay focus on the key blueprints and road maps which ASEAN had drawn up.
“ASEAN has to double its efforts at all fronts. These include the important need for ASEAN to fully and effectively implement the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015, the IAI (Initiative for ASEAN Integration) Work Plan II, 2009-2015, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, the Bali Concord III, in particular, the Phnom Penh Declaration on ASEAN : One Community, One Destiny, and the Phnom Penh Agenda adopted by the Leaders at the 20th ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in April 2012,” said the Prime Minister.
Questions about ASEAN’s unity, and even its existence, had emerged in media reports after the group failed to issue a Joint Communique after last month’s ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. These doubts eased somewhat after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa met some of his ASEAN counterparts, and worked out a consensus on a common position.
Expressing confidence in the robustness of ASEAN, Prime Minister Hun Sen cited key statistics and issues, and noted that ASEAN has much to celebrate on its 45th birthday.
Starting with the economic front, Mr Hun Sen pointed out the economic relevance of ASEAN staying united, noting that “in 2011, we witnessed a combined GDP of US$2.2 trillion – up from US$1.9 trillion in 2010. Our commitment to free trade saw our total trade soaring to a record US$2.4 trillion, up from US$2 trillion in 2010”. He also pointed out that for 2010, ASEAN had posted a combined growth of 7.5% - one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
The leader also told his audience that by the end of March this year (2012), ASEAN has completed about 68% of measures due under Phase I and II of implementing the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, “and will soon implement the ASEAN Economic Community Scorecard Phased III for 2012-2013”.
Tracing the history of ASEAN, Prime Minister Hun Sen noted its progress over the past four and a half decades. From a loose gathering of like-minded member states in 1967, he said ASEAN’s achievements today had largely reflected the progress and significance of the region.
“ Sixty-four non-ASEAN ambassadors have so far, been accredited to ASEAN, and 33 ASEAN Committees have been established in third countries and international organisations around the world,” said Mr Hun Sen, adding that “the international community values ASEAN as a well-progressed political, economic, and socio-cultural regional organization.”
In highlighting ASEAN’s achievements and progress, the Prime Minister also paid tribute to ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, “for his outstanding stewardship of and contribution to ASEAN". The Prime Minister also thanked “all the staff of the ASEAN Secretariat, for their hard work and dedication, they have continuously contributed to advancing ASEAN cooperation."
In his remarks to mark the celebrations, Dr Surin highlighted the significance of Cambodia’s theme for ASEAN.
“Cambodia had reminded us that we are “One Community, One Destiny”. And it is not just ASEAN which share a common destiny. In our closely-connected world today, our Dialogue Partners, Non-Dialogue Partners – our fortunes are already so intertwined, that we need to be aware of what is happening, and what do is necessary in such an environment,” said the Secretary-General.
“We are facing economic uncertainties in many parts of the world. We are fortunate that we are still growing, and our economies are still healthy. But we need to stay focus, and stay united to pull through these uncertain time,” he added, reminding the audience that if ASEAN were a single economy, we would be ranked number nine in the word.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also took the celebrations at the spectacular Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Centre, to launch Siem Reap City as the Cultural City of East Asia 2012. The initiative had received the backing of the ASEAN plus Three Foreign Ministers on 10th July 2012. The festive mood went up another notch, when the Prime Minister announced 2012 as the “Visit ASEAN Plus Three Year”.
Cambodia will host the ASEAN Summit, the East Asia Summit, and other related meetings in November this year.
By Danny Lee, Director Community Affairs Development
08 August 2012
|Follow us on : || |