Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for ASEAN nations to remain united, play a stronger role within the region, and stay true to Asean’s principles.
Mr Thongloun made the call during his opening remarks at the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Vientiane on Sunday, which was attended by about 500 people.
Participants included Asean foreign ministers and their spouses, the ASEAN Secretary-General, senior officials and the media. The foreign ministers of Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and Norway also attended as invited guests.
The Lao prime minister highlighted Asean’s remarkable achievements over the past 49 years and the importance of enhancing cooperation within ASEAN and between ASEAN and external partners, aiming to strengthen and advance the ASEAN Community.
“During this period, we have established the ASEAN Community and fostered effective cooperation with one another. We also have deepened and broadened our cooperative relations with external partners. These achievements have been made possible thanks to our consistent adherence to the established objectives and principles of ASEAN,” Mr Thongloun said.
“ASEAN should continue to maintain and enhance ASEAN’s role in the evolving regional architecture, particularly ASEAN’s centrality, ASEAN’s way and the principle of moving forward at a pace comfortable to all.”
The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings are taking place at a crucial juncture when ASEAN focuses its efforts on implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and enhancing cooperation with external partners.
Mr Thongloun also touched upon the rapid changes underway in the region and the world, presenting both opportunities and challenges.
He said many regions of the world are facing various traditional and non-traditional security challenges such as territorial disputes, extremism and terrorism, natural disasters, climate change, irregular migration, refugee issues, and human trafficking.
Southeast Asia is a diverse region. However, this diversity has not been an obstacle for countries in the region to come together within the regional grouping of ASEAN.
Over the past five decades, ASEAN has gone through various tests and has become a region of peace and stability. The region’s economy has continued to grow and people-to-people exchanges have grown.
The establishment of the ASEAN Community on December 31, 2015, provides opportunities not only for 620 million people, but also other countries and organisations outside the region, as ASEAN has become a single market and production base with a combined GDP of US$2.6 trillion, ranking as the 7th largest economy in the world.
ASEAN Community building is an ongoing process. In light of this, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and Blueprints for the three community pillars adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit in Malaysia last year set out the future direction for Asean to further advance its community, in line with prevailing trends in regional and international cooperation for the next 10 years.
Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and first chaired the regional bloc in 2004 when it hosted the 10th ASEAN Summit and its related meetings.
As the Chair of ASEAN for 2016, Laos will host the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits which will be held back-to-back in Vientiane in September.
ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Source: Vientiane Times