(VOVworld)- On Sunday, the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-49) under the theme “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community” opened in Vientiane, Laos. The meeting hopes to promote cooperation within ASEAN and its ties with partners and enhance the organization’s role in the region.
Prior to the meeting, the Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith said the success of the meeting will create a firm foundation for the ASEAN Summit and related meetings to be held in Laos in September. He urged ASEAN countries to promote solidarity, unity and its central role in addressing regional and global issues.
Strengthening solidarity, unity within ASEAN
In the last 49 years, ASEAN has experienced numerous challenges but has become a peaceful and stable region. Its achievements have been attributed to regional peace, security, and cooperation and support from dialogue partner countries. The establishment of the ASEAN Community on December 31, 2015, and the ratification of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and 3 ASEAN Community Master Plans have created a momentum for ASEAN countries to strengthen cooperation and integration.
With the theme “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community”, ASEAN Foreign Ministers emphasized the need to strengthen solidarity and unity considering it a prerequisite for the successful development of the ASEAN Community. This will also create a firm foundation for ASEAN to affirm and promote its role, responsibility, and voice in dealing with strategic issues relating to regional peace, security, and stability, helping to enhance its image and prestige. Speaking at the opening session, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, as the ASEAN Chair in 2016, said: “Cooperative mechanisms within ASEAN and between ASEAN and partners have created a foundation for internal cooperation and relations between ASEAN and its partner and dialogue countries. The participation of the world’s major countries in ASEAN forums have strengthened mutual understanding and promoted a peaceful and stable environment for cooperation. ASEAN will pursue an open policy and strengthen its central role in formulating the regional architecture based on ASEAN-led mechanisms”.
Affirming ASEAN’s central role
ASEAN has proved to be a successful regional organization. Its achievements have been attributed to its efforts to promote peace and stability in the region, its internal cooperation, support from foreign partners and several cooperation mechanisms including ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS), and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The participation of world power countries at these forums has contributed to enhancing cooperation, mutual trust, peace, security and stability in the region and the world. ASEAN’s relations with partner countries have developed steadily with 86 partners appointing ambassadors to ASEAN and 50 ASEAN committees established in third countries. They agreed that ASEAN would continue its foreign policy of openness, enhancing cooperation with partners, contributing to dealing with challenges, and assisting ASEAN in realising the 2025 Vision and narrowing the development gap. Lao Foreign Minister Saleumsay Kommasith highlighted the effectiveness of ASEAN cooperation: “Today, the regional and global landscape is undergoing complicated and rapid changes, offering both opportunities and challenges. The traditional and non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, extremism, cyber security, illegal immigration, trafficking in person, natural disasters, climate change, poverty, and infectious diseases, drug smuggling, and maritime issues as well as developments in many parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe have caused concern for the international community. In addition, the relations between the major powers, the recent Brexit among other developments, that we should follow closely. However, despite conflicts and challenges that ever occurred in different parts of the world, in general, peace, stability, and development cooperation among nations remain the privileged things in this era”.
East Sea issue plays an important role in regional peace
Ministers devoted time to the East Sea issue, affirming the East Sea’s importance to regional peace, stability and cooperation. They agreed that in the current context, ASEAN needs to uphold solidarity, unity and its central role, contribute to maintaining peace and stability, call for self-restraint, and create an environment conducive to the peaceful settlement of disputes. They said the East Sea issue is the test of ASEAN’s unity and central role.
In the last 49 years, ASEAN has made remarkable progress, expanding from an Association into a united Community. Its achievements have been largely due to its members’ cooperation.