AMM chair highlights ASEAN’s success in the past 50 years

MANILA-- Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano emphasized to ASEAN member states on Saturday the regional grouping's success in the past 50 years.

During the opening ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' (AMM) Meeting here, Cayetano said the ASEAN continuously delivered its promise of peace, stability, and economic development for its peoples.

Cayetano, who is also the AMM chair, noted that ASEAN's approach in resolving sensitive issues in the region builds respect, trust, and confidence among its 10 member states.

In the true ASEAN way, we were able to passionately argue our national interests, but at the same time put first the regional interest, and come out as friends; we've found solutions to very sensitive problems, he said.

The ASEAN way of cooperation is primarily based on principles of dialogue, consensus, and non-interference in internal affairs, he said, adding that these principles are the bedrock of the ASEAN Community's peace, stability, and shared prosperity.

Part of the hallmarks of ASEAN success is its transformation into one community in 2015 with three primary pillars -- political-security, economic, and socio-cultural.

Since its establishment in 1967, the ASEAN has grown from five original members to 10 member states.

The geopolitical and economic landscape then was characterized by much distrust, mutual suspicion, skepticism, and fear as the result of the cold war. The ideological rivalry between the east and the west was so intense, driving some countries in the region to either go to one side or the other, or seeking to be friends to both sides. Economies were mostly fragmented and struggling. In other words, our people were suffering, Cayetano said.

In those turbulent times, ASEAN came into being, leading many political pundits on the side to say that it was born to fail and not to succeed.

However, he noted that after 50 years, the ASEAN remains an effective mechanism for partnership and cooperation.

ASEAN has given birth to a number of ASEAN lead mechanisms that played a key role today in enhancing confidence building, and promoting and maintaining regional stability. These include the ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia Summit, and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus, Cayetano further said.

Just as ASEAN developed internally to become the respective regional organization that it is today, so it has likewise successfully developed externally by establishing an intricate system of partnerships with various countries and organizations outside the region. The success of ASEAN in engaging the outside world rested on its open, inclusive, and outward-looking nature.

He mentioned that the bloc has 10 dialogue partners -- Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, United States, and the European Union. It has sectoral partners in Norway, Switzerland, and Pakistan; a development partner in Germany; and a comprehensive partnership with the United Nations.

He added that the ASEAN was able to take advantage of these partnerships to address issues of common concerns across its three pillars.

This is a golden opportunity for all of us, for all to work for an ASEAN that has taken its fair and secure place in the community of nations. An ASEAN which has its own significant role in effective, positive change for our world, Cayetano said.

Let us work hand in hand to make the vision a reality enjoyed by all. Enjoyed not only by a few, but enjoyed by all ASEAN. And hopefully we will make it also viral and our regional unity will go to the other regions of the world.

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, the ASEAN will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in Manila as the Philippines hosts this year's summit.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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