(VOV) – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has a long way to go before it achieves the goal of establishing a single, united community by 2015.
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Founded 46 years ago, the association has made great strides in forming a common community based on three key pillars: politics-security, economics, and socio-culture.
In an interview granted to VOV, ASEAN General Secretary Le Luong Minh said the community building initiative has received strong support from all ASEAN member states.
A score of measures have been adopted to implement the blueprints for the three key pillars. For example, Minh said, by March 2013 ASEAN member states had done nearly 80% of the workload to form the Economic Community.
However, challenges are lying ahead and, as the deadline is drawing near, the member states should exert a greater effort to fulfil their commitments, he said.
He emphasised the importance of support and assistance from ASEAN’s partners to realise the plan on schedule.
It is important that all ASEAN’s partners have shown their strong commitment to supporting this community building effort, said Minh.
He noted as many as 74 non-ASEAN countries have sent their ambassadors to ASEAN, showing their desires to strengthen cooperation with the grouping.
This is a good chance for ASEAN to make the most of non-ASEAN countries’ assistance to fulfil its community building goal by 2015, he stressed.
A key task for ASEAN is setting development orientations for the grouping beyond 2015 to ensure it will continue integrating deeper and more comprehensively, and becoming a highly economic competitive region.
ASEAN will also consider restructuring its apparatus, including the Secretariat, to make its operations more efficient and transparent.
Maintaining security is a big challenge for ASEAN that needs to be addressed very soon. There is growing concern about territorial disputes over the East Sea among a number of countries in the region.
Minh confirmed that ASEAN member states have reached high consensus on the way to solve the issue based on the grouping’s six-point principles, in order to maintain security and peace for not only ASEAN countries but also China and other involved parties.
Settling East Sea issues is associated with ensuring maritime safety and security which captures great global attention.
According to Minh, ASEAN’s partners have supported the grouping’s stance and its capacity to tackle East Sea issues based on the six-point principles.