The Heads of State/Government of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are gathering in Myanmar’s capital for the 25th ASEAN Summit which begins today. The Summit takes place at a critical juncture of ASEAN’s history with just one year to go before the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015. During this Summit, the Leaders of ASEAN will also engage with the Heads of State/Government of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.
This is the first time that Myanmar is chairing ASEAN and the meetings provide the country with a historic moment in both its own and ASEAN’s history. The timing of the chairmanship is regarded as momentous in light of the country’s on-going democratization and reform process.
According to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Le Luong Minh, “this is the most important turning year deciding the achievement of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and Myanmar has played an important role in accelerating the implementation of the remaining action lines for the ASEAN Community building.” He added that “Myanmar’s chairmanship has also set the stage for the ASEAN Community’s post-2015 vision as well as the work on reviewing and strengthening ASEAN institutions.”
In this connection, the Summit will have an in-depth discussion on the future directions of the ASEAN Community beyond 2015. The Summit is expected to adopt the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration for the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision. This document would serve as the basis for the formulation of a comprehensive post-2015 vision for ASEAN next year.
Additionally, the Summit will adopt a Declaration on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs, which aims to enhance the capacity, coordination and synergy of ASEAN institutions and mechanisms amidst the growing volume of Community building work and the fast changing regional landscape.
At the Summit, regional and international issues of common interest and concern will be on top of the agenda, especially those that have significant impact on peace and stability in the region such as the South China Sea issue. The Leaders would also adopt the ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change 2014.
Further, an important topic on the table is configuring the best approaches to position ASEAN strategically amidst the shifting regional landscape both in terms of geo-economics and geo-politics. ASEAN Leaders are expected to continue the on-going discourse on enhancing ASEAN’s centrality and credibility in the evolving regional architecture and engagement with external partners.
Myanmar’s theme for its ASEAN Chairmanship this year is “Moving forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community.”
In the Summits with Dialogue Partners of ASEAN, as well as the ASEAN Plus Three Summit and East Asia Summit, the Leaders are expected to discuss ways and means to further strengthen and deepen their respective partnerships. They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern and interest such as maritime security, climate change, energy and food security, disaster management and pandemic diseases.
ASEAN was established in 1967 by the five founding fathers, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Later, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia joined making up what is now the ten Member States. The Summit is the Association’s highest policy-making body and the Chairmanship is rotated alphabetically among the Member States every year.