Yang Mulia Bapak Dr. Hassan Wirajuda,
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
His Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary General of ASEAN
Dear Colleagues and distinguished delegates,

       At the outset, please allow me to express on behalf of all ASEAN Colleagues our warmest congratulations to Your Excellency the Minister for the successful Chairmanship of the 37th ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC). We highly appreciate Your Excellency’s great diplomatic skills and vast experience as well as active and dynamic leadership which Your Excellency have provided for the ASEC over the past year.

       I also wish to thank the Officials and staff of the ASEAN-Indonesia for their excellent work under the able guidance of our esteemed colleague, Dr. Marty Natalegawa. We have witnessed, since his appointment as Director-General of ASEAN-Indonesia, the great devotion to the work, the outstanding coordination activities, despite the other tasks entrusted to him. These not only have made the job of the Minister easier but also have significantly contributed to the achievement of the ASEAN Standing Committee in particular and in general to the cause of ASEAN in the past year.

       My sincere thanks also go to His Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary General of ASEAN and the whole staff of the ASEAN Secretariat for their hard work, their professional and efficient support and close cooperation, which have also contributed to the success of the ASEAN Standing Committee.

Dear Colleagues,

       In the last twelve months, ASEAN has made many achievements and important events have also been recorded. The most outstanding was the 9th Summit in Bali where our Leaders adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II), which reaffirmed ASEAN Vision 2020’s commitment towards advancing ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian Nations, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.

       During this time span, we have also witnessed with satisfaction the progress in many areas of cooperation within ASEAN. ASEAN cooperation has further broadened, deepened and strengthened, in particular through the implementation of our Leaders’ initiatives and decisions. We have made a good record in our overall external relations, especially under the ASEAN+3 cooperation. The establishment of the ASEAN+3 Unit within the ASEAN Secretariat demonstrates ASEAN’s string willingness and determination to further its cooperation with China, Japan and the RoK.

Mr. Chairman,

       Under His Excellency the Minister’s guidance, ASEAN continues to play its important role in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole. China and India all have acceded to ASEAN’s instrument, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in Bali on 8 October 2003. It is expected that more countries will accede to it in the near future.

Mr. Chairman,

       Much have been achieved, however more need to be done to implement our Leaders’ initiatives and decisions as well as to address new developments and challenges. One of the most important tasks in ASEAN is how to accelerate the process of ASEAN integration and address the development of gap within ASEAN in order to ensure the future regional integration. The Initiative for ASEAN Integration, the IAI, is a strategic decision made by our Leaders to achieve the end goal. We strongly believe that it is of paramount importance for all ASEAN member countries to continue to pool together their respective strengths and resource to sustain growth and development. At the same time, we need to further intensify our external relations to ensure ASEAN’s proper place in the international community so as to realize the noble goals of the Bali Concord II and the ASEAN Vision 2020.

Dear colleagues,

       Being a new member of ASEAN, Laos is well aware of many challenges and important tasks entrusted upon us as the incoming Chairman of the 38th ASC. However, we are confident that with our utmost effort and with your continuing valuable support, close cooperation, coordination and active contribution, especially as indicated by His Excellency the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, we will be able to overcome difficulties and to continue building upon the success made by Indonesia over the past year, in particular the work of the ASEAN Standing Committee and thus the common goal of our Association.

       I look forward to warmly welcoming the ASEAN colleagues to the first Meeting of the 38th ASEAN Standing Committee in Laos.

Thank you very much (Terima Kasih Banyak)