It gives me great pleasure in extending my warmest congratulations to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for its success during the past 38 years on 38th anniversary of the founding of the Association. Since its inception on the 8th August 1967, ASEAN has succeeded in enlarging its membership to encompass all then countries in the Southeast Asia region and in making efforts to establish an ASEAN Community based on the three pillars of ASEAN Security Community (ASC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN Sociocultural Community (ASCC).
ASEAN today is a community of 540 million people on a land mass of 4.5 million square kilometers with a combined GDP of 723 billion dollars and total trade value of 720 billion US dollars per year. It becomes one of the most progressive and cohesive regional organizations and play an important role in the United Nations and such regional for a as ARF and ASEM.
ASEAN has firmly laid down a code of conduct for the relations among nations in its Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, which is based on the principles of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, non-interference in the internal affairs of one another, settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means, renunciation of the threat or use of force, and effective cooperation among themselves.
ASEAN has made a milestone in adopting the Bali Concord II in 2003 gearing towards closer integration. The Bali Concord II has started the process of ASEAN integration establishing the ASEAN Community based on three pillars of its foundation. The firs pillar of ASEAN Community, ASEAN Security Community (ASC), subscribes to the principle of comprehensive security and interdependence of the political, economic and social life of the region. The second pillar of ASEAN Community, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), embodies the realization of a stable, prosperous and highly competitive region, functioning as a single market and production base. The third pillar of the ASEAN Community, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), represents ASEAN’s aspirations to lift the quality of life of its peoples and strengthen its cultural identity towards a people-centered ASEAN.
In order to realize the ASEAN Community, ASEAN is currently implementing the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP). In addition to implementing the VAP, ASEAN is paying more attention to narrowing the development gap within ASEAN. In trying to narrowing the income gap, it also strives to narrow the gap in social development through accelerating technical and development cooperation.
I truly believe that through the process of ASEAN integration, ASEAN will surely become a concert of Southeast Asian Nations, bonded together in partnership, in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies by 2020.
As the objectives and vision of ASEAN are in tandem with the political, economic and social objectives of the Union of Myanmar, Myanmar has actively participated in ASEAN since 1997 as a full fledged member. In so doing, Myanmar has contributed to the maintenance of peace and security, economic and socio-cultural development in the Southeast Asian region. It also in some way contributed to the endeavor of Myanmar in establishing a modern, developed, and peaceful nation.
We also been able to foster closer cooperation and mutual understanding with other members of ASEAN based on the spirit of ASEAN solidarity and contributing positively to regional peace, stability and prosperity in our region.
The emergence of an ASEAN Community will benefit people of Myanmar along with other ASEAN citizens in sharing the fruit of peace and stability, development and prosperity, and socio-cultural development. I would like to take this opportunity to urge our fellow citizens to strive in unison for the emergence of ASEAN Community in accordance with this year ASEAN Day’s theme of “ASEAN Community Building for ASEAN People”.