The 35th ASEAN Summit opened in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday morning with the attendance of leaders from 10 member States, the ASEAN Secretary-General, United Nations Secretary-General, the International Monetary Fund Managing Director among others.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha emphazised the need for ASEAN to advance partnership beyond the region to create peace and stability, stimulate dynamic economic growth, and promote sustainability in all dimensions. To achieve these goals, ASEAN needs a new “growth paradigm” that prioritizes human capital development concurrently with environmental conservation.
He noted that ASEAN’s strong partnership this year has produced many concrete achievements, including the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
Prayut congratulated the concerted efforts of ASEAN Member States in launching seven ASEAN Centres during Thailand’s Chairmanship in areas such as sustainable development, disaster relief, active ageing and social welfare, which will contribute towards realizing a people-centered ASEAN Community.
The host leader also called for closer cooperation among all stakeholders to carry forth the aspirations of ASEAN’s Founding Fathers to build peace and prosperity for the benefits of future generations.
As ASEAN and the world face increased challenges and uncertainties, including global economic slowdown, geostrategic competition both at the global and regional levels, challenges to multilateralism, or transnational crime, Prayut said close "partnership and friendship" will be crucial to enabling our region, which spans the Pacific and Indian Oceans, to tackle and overcome these challenges.
With regard to the first approach of creating a stable region, ASEAN must focus efforts on enhancing strategic trust on the basis of the principle of the 3Ms, that is, mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual benefit, so as to reduce confrontation.
"We should also promote a strong regional architecture based on ASEAN centrality, whether that be the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three, ARF, or other ASEAN cooperation with Dialogue Partners," the Thai PM stated.
He also called for continued commitments to negotiating the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China.
The Opening Ceremony concluded with a video presentation on the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD), ASEAN Center for Active Ageing and Innovation (ACAI) and ASEAN Training Center for Social Work and Social Welfare (ATCSW), signifying their official launch./.