KUALA LUMPUR – The 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting opened here Tuesday, drawing foreign ministers and representatives from 10 Southeast Asian countries to focus on the establishment of the ASEAN Community by the end of this year.
The 10-nation bloc is in its final spurt to realize the goal of establishing a single community by the end of 2015, which involves a plan to create a common economic, political-security and socio- cultural region.
“This will be a huge step towards making the ASEAN motto ‘One Vision, One Identity, One Community’ a reality,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the opening ceremony.
Established in 1967, ASEAN comprises 10 Southeast Asian countries, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision, the bloc’s roadmap for the next 10 years, is also expected to be adopted this year.
By establishing the ASEAN Community, the region is hoping to enhance its role as a global player and be more active in the international community, according to Najib.
“It is timely for ASEAN’s united voice to be heard more frequently at multilateral fora,” he said, citing global issues such as the rise of radicalization and extremism, and irregular movements of persons, which cannot be resolved by one nation alone.
He expressed belief that an increasingly integrated ASEAN is on course to be the world’s fourth largest economy in 2050 and it is time for ASEAN to fulfill its potential.
“We should be confident about our future and we should be vocal about our confidence,” he said.
At the 48th AMM, ASEAN’s foreign ministers will take stock on the progress of the implementation of the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community.
“The unity between our nations has never been stronger,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at the opening ceremony, who also showed great optimism.
What will be achieved in the next few months will set the course of ASEAN for decades to come, he said.
A series of related meetings will be held following the foreign ministers’ meeting, in which ASEAN’s dialogue partners, including China and the United States, will take part and exchange views on regional issues with the bloc.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is here to attend the foreign ministers’ meetings from Aug. 4 to Aug. 7 at the invitation of Anifah Aman.