FM: 50 Years of ASEAN Proven as a Motor of Peace, Regional Stability

Manila, Philippines: Amid doubts about multilateralism and regionalism, ASEAN has proven itself to be the motor of peace and regional stability. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement to the plenary session of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Manila, Philippines (5/8).

In the plenary session on ASEAN community building, Minister Retno emphasized that during the last 50 years, ASEAN has succeeded in creating an ecosystem of peace, stability and prosperity in the region. The success of ASEAN has prevented open conflict, triggered economic development and regional welfare that made ASEAN a growth engine for the region and the world. "ASEAN's success can be seen from our peaceful and stable region with economic growth above the world average," she said.

Furthermore, Retno stated that the success of ASEAN is due to several ASEAN powers in developing institutions that lay emphasis on peace and stability. ASEAN has also managed to avoid megaphone diplomacy and to promote diplomacy and dialogue. In addition, ASEAN has succeeded in establishing a rule-based association. All of this is part of the ASEAN Way that succeeded in making ASEAN to interact well among members and also countries outside the region. "ASEAN has become a respected regional and global actor through the ASEAN-led mechanism to build dialogues with countries in the region and outside the region," said the RI Foreign Minister.

Nevertheless, in order to keep maintaining the success achieved, the RI Foreign Minister affirmed that ASEAN should also be successful in facing various challenges that exist as well as new challenges. One such challenge is related to the existence of geopolitical rivalry, such as in the South China Sea. In this regard it is emphasized that ASEAN should continue to be able to manage the situation by respecting the basic principles and international law and maintaining good relations with all parties.

In addition, ASEAN must also be able to overcome the challenges that come from the threat of transnational crime and terrorism. In this case the RI Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of ASEAN to increase cooperation, both at regional and sub-regional levels.

The RI Foreign Minister also emphasized that reducing the development gap between the poor and the rich is still a challenge for ASEAN. Therefore, ASEAN needs to always promote inclusive development, including by empowering SMEs, accelerating RCEP negotiations, and providing protection for migrant workers. "The key to the success of ASEAN in the future will be determined by its ability to ensure that the people of ASEAN experience the result of the development achieved by ASEAN," said Minister Retno.

She also emphasized that in the future ASEAN will face the challenge of maintaining and keeping the centrality and unity of ASEAN. Without the unity and centrality of ASEAN, ASEAN's role in the region and the world can become less relevant. Hence, she called for communication among ASEAN Foreign Ministers to be improved, both through formal and informal channels. "We must continue to maintain and strengthen the unity and centrality of ASEAN, and not let the ASEAN region  become  a proxy for the big countries," closed Foreign Minister Retno. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Affairs / Infomed)