8th August 2022
1. The 8th August 2022 marks an auspicious day as we celebrate the 55th Anniversary of ASEAN as a regional grouping. This great milestone along our long journey brings us closer to our vision of building a people-centred, people-oriented and forward-looking ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind.
2. In the last 5 decades and a half, ASEAN has transformed itself from a loose arrangement to a closely-knitted and rule-based organization. It has navigated through tremendous changes in regional and global political landscapes and has emerged wiser and stronger as a family.
3. It is true that ASEAN cannot guarantee the absence of wars and conflicts, but at least ASEAN has served as an open platform for constructive dialogue and consultation, which has enormously contribute to upholding peace and stability in the region. The enormous achievements to date underline the strong commitment and political will of ASEAN Leaders to preserve peace and stability, and to bring economic prosperity to an ASEAN Community embodied in the spirit of unity and solidarity.
4. Since its membership in 1999 and as the last member to join ASEAN, Cambodia has been playing a very pro-active role in the ASEAN Community building process. This year Cambodia has the honor and privilege to assume its role as the rotating Chair of ASEAN for the third time. Its chairmanship theme of “ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together” reflects Cambodia’s commitment to harness the ASEAN’s spirit of “togetherness” to uphold and promote ASEAN Centrality, unity, and solidarity in our concerted actions to address common regional challenges as well as to enhance ASEAN’s contribution to regional and global peace, stability, security, and sustainable development.
5. More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN have managed to overcome this global crisis and its adverse effects on public health, social, economic and the daily livelihood of the people. ASEAN has come up with many initiatives to curb the impacts of this health crisis by adopting a broad ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework to safeguard people’s lives, to maintain social stability and economic growth. We can safely say that we are now in the recovering phase.
6. Cambodia is a proactive contributor to the ASEAN Political-Security Community with its steadfast commitment and collective responsibility in maintaining and promoting regional peace and security. We have supported the momentum of ASEAN’s pro-active contribution to regional and global peace, including through UN peacekeeping operations. In the last 15 years, Cambodia has deployed nearly 8,000 UN peacekeepers for missions in several countries across the globe. The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC) headquartered in Phnom Penh has also enhanced ASEAN’s visibility in addressing the humanitarian aspects of the issues of landmines and the explosive remnants of war (ERW). We firmly believe that the protection of human security is an integral part of the maintenance of world peace and security.
7. Cambodia continues to attach great importance to the promotion of the universal principles of peaceful co-existence and friendly cooperation enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). With currently 49 Parties to the TAC, our cooperation and partnerships with our External Partners have grown steadily from year to year spanning multiple continents and reflecting ASEAN’s growing relevance and significance in regional and world affairs.
8. Looking ahead, ASEAN will continue to face many pressing security challenges, the most important ones being the situation in Myanmar, the South China Sea, the Korean peninsula, and the Russia-Ukraine war. These issues could destabilize our regional peace and stability if we are not able to handle them properly.
9. However, ASEAN long-term growth and prosperity will depend on our resilience in re-boosting regional economic recovery and growth. We need to put more efforts to implement a broad spectrum of initiatives ranging from industrial transformation, digitalization, and innovation to integration of the global supply chains, digital economy and e-commerce. We need to push for a more vibrant and harmonious ASEAN Community from seeking more protection for our migrant workers and increasing support for green and inclusive development agenda and the UN SDGs targets. In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution we have no choice but to enable the digital transformation of our women and youth entrepreneurship.
10. The implementing the RCEP agreement remains a priority. RCEP will stimulate economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, create jobs, and strengthen regional supply chain in the region and the world as a whole. As the Chair of ASEAN 2022, Cambodia will work closely with RCEP countries to promote the full and effective implementation of the RCEP Agreement to further intensify the facilitation of cross-border trade movements.
11. Moreover, Cambodia aims to further advance the ASEAN Community building process by emphasizing on the need to deliver on all the agreed key targets and initiatives under the three ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025, including the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC 2025), the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan IV (IAI Work Plan IV), among others. Indeed, the importance of narrowing the development gap remains the key agenda in ASEAN Community building. We are also working together on the Post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision to address the increasing complexity of opportunities and emerging challenges facing the ASEAN region.
12. In terms of outward-looking activities and strengthening relations with our Dialogue Partners, ASEAN has established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia and China. This year, we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-India relations and designate 2022 as ASEAN-India Friendship Year. We had a Special ASEAN-U.S. Summit to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-U.S. relations and we are committed to elevate this relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership at the 10th ASEAN-U.S. Summit in November. We had the first ASEAN-UK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting this year since UK became our 11th Dialogue Partner and we have plan for more commemorative events with our Dialogue Partners later this year.
13. Ultimately, ASEAN needs to stand by on our unity for cooperation and mutual interest. We will strive to focus on actions that bind us together for greater prosperity of our region. We will uphold the ASEAN spirit of “togetherness” to consolidate our efforts, internally within ASEAN and externally with our External Partners, to enhance the ASEAN solidarity and resilience so that we can achieve our goals of building a resilient ASEAN Community Vision 2025. In sum, we believe that ASEAN can forge ahead with strength, solidarity, and friendship to overcome all the challenges that are facing us for the common good of our peoples and our region, in line with the core spirit of ASEAN: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.