|The ASEAN flag raising ceremony was held in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday to celebrate the formation of the ASEAN Community. — VNA/VNS Photo Thong Nhat
HANOI (VNS)— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has hailed the formation of the ASEAN Community as a historic milestone in the regional connectivity process in Southeast Asia.
"Today, at the moment between 2015 and the new year 2016, together with the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), we joyfully welcome the formation of the ASEAN Community, which has a combined population of over 600 million, with dynamic economies and a total GDP of US$2.6 trillion, and is a community with diverse cultures and rich identities and traditions," said the Prime Minister while making a speech on television to welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Community on Thursday.
"This is a historic milestone in the regional connection process in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the ASEAN member countries' common awareness and resolve to lift their connectivity and cooperation to a new height, for the common interest of peace, stability and prosperity in the region," he said.
The PM referred to the ASEAN Community as the common house of the great family of the Southeast Asian nations saying that ASEAN had grown up, strengthened and reaped a number of enormous achievements after almost five decades of development towards the goals of peace and affluence of the regional countries.
He said it was stepping up the intensive connectivity on all three pillars of politics-security, economy and culture-society.
"Overcoming challenges during the course of development, ASEAN has brought important and practical benefits to its members and strongly affirmed the value of solidarity and principles of consensus and unity," according to the PM.
Speaking on the ASEAN's central role in the region, especially the security architecture, the PM said it had received the cooperation and support of the international community, especially ASEAN's dialogue partners including major powers in the world.
"The building of the ASEAN Community is a continuous and long-term process. The bloc has set up the Vision 2025 which affirms all the member nations' determination to continue consolidating and deepening the ASEAN connectivity, and build a rule-based and truly people-oriented ASEAN Community that ensures people's rights and interests, has extensive relations with partners, and gains an increasingly important role and status in the region and the world," said PM Dung.
The PM also stressed the role and status of Viet Nam in the bloc saying that in the time ahead, to successfully integrate into ASEAN, Viet Nam should strongly bring into play internal strength and creativity, work together to overcome all difficulties and challenges, make the best use of opportunities to achieve rapid and sustainable development, and bring practical benefits for people."
"Viet Nam will seriously carry out the commitments to integration and cooperate with other member nations to successfully execute the ASEAN Community Vision 2025," said the PM.
As a member since 1995, Viet Nam has actively engaged in the development of ASEAN.
The country has recognised that joining ASEAN is a strategic decision, the first significant landmark in its process to implement the policy of multilateralisation and diversification of external relations and international integration.
During the two-decade ASEAN membership, under the motto of "proactive, active and responsible" participation, Vet Nam has seriously fulfilled the commitments and obligations of a member country while making important contributions to the grouping's development and strength which have been recognised by countries both inside and outside the region.
At the same time, Viet Nam's achievements in its Doi moi (renewal) and socio-economic development as well as its growing international standing also contributed greatly to strengthening the ASEAN and raising its status.
Flag raising event held
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a flag raising ceremony in Ha Noi on Thursday to celebrate the official formation of the ASEAN Community.
The event took place in the presence of Moroccan Ambassador and head of the diplomatic corps El Houcine Fardani, representatives of the ASEAN nations' embassies and partners, dialogue countries in Viet Nam and officials of Vietnamese ministries and sectors.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said December 31, 2015 was a historic day for the 10 ASEAN member countries because 48 years after the bloc's foundation, the dream of a harmonious community of Southeast Asian nations had come true.
"Efforts towards peace, friendship, co-operation and development for all nations are responsible for the bloc's current success," he said.
The ASEAN Community would lead the region's progress to a new phase that would benefit all member nations and reflect the group's centrality and proactiveness in response to the growing regional and global trend of co-operation and connectivity, he added.
"As of today, under the roof of ASEAN, more than 600 million people in Southeast Asia will join hands in building a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible community," he said.
He took the opportunity to express acknowledgement and hope for the continued support and assistance from international friends, especially ASEAN's partners, to the bloc in general and Viet Nam in particular.
"Viet Nam is proud of our active participation and contributions to the co-operation and building of the ASEAN Community since 1995. We have made decisive efforts to accelerate national reform and regional and international integration during that two-decade ASEAN membership," Minh said.
The Deputy PM said that ASEAN had continually been - and would remain - a pillar in the country's foreign policy, adding that Viet Nam would actively, proactively and responsibly engage in the group's co-operation, helping with the successful development of the ASEAN Community.
The formation was just the initial step in the building of the ASEAN Community, which is a continuous and long-term process, he said, emphasising that an array of challenges await, and much remains to be done.
He said ASEAN would fulfill its goals and successfully build a peaceful, stable, inclusive and intensively integrated community that is also a constructive player in the global community. — VNS