Majesties, Excellencies, we now formally open this ASEAN Summit. The Philippines is proud to be hosting ASEAN as such an important time. At the time when the DOHA Round is faltering, ASEAN wants to stand up and proclaim its support for keeping the doors of global trade open. And there is concern about nuclear proliferation, we have stood firm in our commitment on the issue of North Korea. And finally, ASEAN is committed to expanding its trade area to create one of the world’s greatest trading blocks. So I believe the future of ASEAN is bright indeed.
It’s vitally important at this time in world events that ASEAN is bringing so many nations and leaders together to discuss peace, security, and social justice and economic growth. The fact that leaders of 17 great nations will be here is a testament to the desire of leaders and their people for greater collaboration between nations.
I hope we can make progress on issues of energy independence, human rights, economic integration and social justice. As the theme of the Summit, “One Caring and Sharing Community” suggests, we want to advance the sense of community in our shared interest to look after each other in terms of social justice, economic development and common security.
From the Filipino point of view, I believe we bring that focus in our own peace model in Mindanao as an example of how nations working together can make positive things happen.
I want to reiterate my thanks to the ASEAN leaders who have been helping the success of the Philippine model for dealing with the flashpoint area of Mindanao. We’ve been able to meld together confidence building measures grounded on strong interfaith dialogue and cultural awareness, investments in economic and basic infrastructure development and mutual security arrangements to keep the peace in Mindanao.
Perhaps most notably, we have worked to the broad spectrum with the broad range of international organizations and nations from across the spectrum including Sweden, European Union, Japan, Malaysia, the U.S., Libya, Indonesia, Brunei and other OIC countries.
This broad-based coalition is working to keep the peace, isolate general security threats and promote the economic well-being of Muslim and Christian residents of Mindanao.
This is a model setting of positive example. It’s something we all wish to share with the rest of the world. It will lead to a permanent peace in Mindanao. Once again, welcome to this Retreat.
Last night, we had a much longer discussion on the Eminent Persons Group’s presentation and we discussed the ASEAN charter already. So I believe that while we took longer last night than we had anticipated, we can therefore have a shorter session today than originally scheduled because much of what we would have said today about the ASEAN Charter has been said yesterday. So, maybe we will have a shorter lunch.
So now, I would like to open our Retreat discussion this morning. In this morning we will be talking about the future directions of ASEAN.
Before the coffee break, I hope we can talk about internal relations within ASEAN including the Charter if anybody wishes to continue talking about that and also including the Eminent Persons Group report if anybody wishes to talk about that. And then after the coffee break, I hope that we can also continue talking about the future of ASEAN then talk about the external relations.
So I’d like to open the floor now for discussion on the future of ASEAN especially our internal relations with one another.
Is there anybody who would like to take the floor?