Asean Still Has Much to Accomplish, FM Retno Says at Bloc's 49th Anniversary

BY :EDO KARENSA

AUGUST 15, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations still has much to accomplish in the future as the regional bloc celebrated its 49th anniversary on Monday (15/08).

Speaking during the celebration at the offices of the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta, Retno said she believes member states of the bloc will continue to promote peace, stability, solidarity and unity in the region.

This cooperation has resulted in the region having the world's seventh largest economy with a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion.

"With over 600 million people, Asean's potential market is larger than the European Union or North America. Let us not stop there. [...] for we have much to do and much more to achieve," Minister Retno said.

She expressed hope that the anniversary celebration would serve as a moment of reflection on the key challenges the region is facing and about ways member states can overcome these together.

The minister also reminded those in attendance that the leaders of member states adopted the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the establishment of the Asean Economic Community last year, in a move to consolidate the bloc into a politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible community.

"More importantly, we are committed to safeguarding Asean as our 'home.' A home where Asean's centrality and unity must remain a key principle to pave the way for further progress in the region," Retno said.

New Asean Secretariat Offices

During the ceremony, Retno also announced that her ministry has officially handed over the site of the old South Jakarta mayoral office as the location of the new offices of the Asean Secretariat.

After an open tender in 2015 with 80 participants, the ministry chose the final design of the new building, which will consist of 17 floors and two semi-basements.

Construction of the Betawi-style building will commence early next year and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

"Being the host country, Indonesia is ready and committed to best serve as the diplomatic capital of Southeast Asia," Retno said.

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