Excellencies, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of ASEAN Member States; Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank His Excellency Nyan Win, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Union of Myanmar, for depositing Myanmar’s instrument of ratification of the ASEAN Charter with me today.

This is the seventh instrument of ratification of the ASEAN Charter that I have received so far. Just three more, and then the ASEAN Charter will enter into force on the 30th day following the date of the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

I am very optimistic that the three remaining ratifications – by Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand – will also be deposited with me soon. I believe we are on course and on time to celebrate the full ratification by the time of the summit in Bangkok at the end of this year.

In Bangkok, I understand that the Thai host has already planned a rather elaborate ceremony to commemorate the full ratification of the Charter. They have found the original table that the founding five members sat and signed the ASEAN Declaration that brought ASEAN into being on 8 August 1967. Of course, this time, the ten of them will have to squeeze around that table.

On 7 January 2008, after I took over as Secretary-General of ASEAN, my dynamic predecessor, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong of Singapore, warned me that upon receiving the first instrument of ratification from Singapore, do not expect that the second will come next week. Of course, we have waited and now we have the seventh and I am sure the eighth, ninth, and tenth will complete this history of journey of ASEAN into becoming a legal personality in the international arena.

Today, after receiving this seventh instrument of ratification of Myanmar, I can say I am now seven times luckier and happier than when I was handed over this position from His Excellency Ong Keng Yong.

I believe the ASEAN Charter will help us build an ASEAN Community that we can all be proud of. Already we have generated tremendous excitement around the world and they are expecting so much out of the ASEAN and they believe with the completion of the ratification of the Charter, we will really be a new ASEAN worthy of full respect, cooperation and interaction with.

On that note, I want to thank all the Foreign Ministers for being here, recognising and acknowledging this seventh instrument of ratification of the ASEAN Charter.

Thank you.