7 August 2017 | Manila, Philippines

SFA: Excellences, it is my distinct honor and privilege to, again, welcome you very warmly to Manila. I also wish to thank you for the very warm welcome and support that you have extended to me as the newest member of the ASEAN foreign ministers circle, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

I hope you enjoyed the dinner and cultural show last night and I wish to thank all of you for your patience and for you passion in discussing very sensitive but very important issues last night and for doing it the ASEAN way. I’m sure 50 years from now, our founding mother of our, pre-formal meeting discussions, we will recognize the value of meetings, candid discussions and heart-to-heart meetings as we did last night.

Our meeting today is historic as it is taking place just 3 days before ASEAN celebrates its 50th founding anniversary. The Philippines is deeply honored to host the commemorative celebration of this auspicious occasion.

Fifty years ago, the founding members of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, took a bold step in forming an association with regional peace, and security, and stability, economic prosperity, social progress, and cultural development as their goals for the region. Today, we proudly say that ASEAN is enjoying the high noon of its existence as a regional grouping. We are now an ASEAN community that is respected, resilient and dynamic, enjoying the respect and admiration of many other countries and other regional organizations around the world.

If there is a single characteristic that makes our community truly unique and admirable, it’s the existence of the peaceful settlement of the regional disputes and on regional co-operation as the best if not the surest means of achieving peace amity and friendship among the peoples of South East Asia, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations. And the last 50 years we’ve gone beyond amity and friendship to true brotherhood and sisterhood.

For ASEAN’s achievement and progress, we commend the contributions of our government, the ASEAN national secretariat, ASEAN sectoral bodies, associate entities as well as other stakeholders such as the business community, civil society, the media, academe, and think tanks among others. We are also thankful for the support to the various initiatives and activities organized by the ASEAN communities in the 3rd countries and international organizations, ACTCs, ASEAN dialogue and regional and international institutions, think tanks, including the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia EIRA, to contribute to the celebration of the ASEAN’s golden anniversary. ASEAN centrality is a driving principle of our association and with the emerging changes in regional security and architecture, let us ensure that the ASEAN shall continue and will remain relevant and responsive to the needs of all people of ASEAN. Today we’re given the opportunity to take further steps forward in our community efforts. Let us begin our meeting, let us begin to celebrate our 50 years.

Thank you very much my esteemed colleagues.

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