Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my heart-felt thanks to the Government of Malaysia for the excellent arrangements for the 11th ASEAN Summit and the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation.
May I share with you, Your Majesty, Excellencies, some of my views related to our agenda as follows:
I- Regional and International Development
Fighting terrorism by taking international concerted efforts to cracking down and to dismantle terrorist organizations and enhance intra-regional cooperation in counter terrorism remains our top priority. Indeed, at a regional level, there is an urgent need for more collaboration on how to prevent terror attacks. ASEAN must remain an «axis of stability» in East Asia. We also need to do more to address the root causes of terrorism and tailor effective responses to specific circumstances. In this regard, we must develop and implement programs to ensure social harmony and ethnic cohesion and reduce poverty.
I am pleased to note that our region continued to grow at a robust rate of 5.4% in 2005, although our economies countered a number of threats, including rising oil prices and interest rates, the high-tech slowdown, and the end of preferential export quotas for garments. I am delighted to take note of the declining trends of poverty in our region.
Overall, our economies in the region have adjusted well to some fairly serious shocks since the end of 2003, not least of which was the doubling of global oil prices. In this regard, energy security has become a real problem for our respective economies and high oil prices have become a fact of life. Therefore, alternative sources of energy and renewable energy should be fully utilized.
Avian flu is a growing concern for public health and our regional economies, as the disease spreads among birds and as health experts look for signs of human-to-human transmission. In dealing with the influenza threat, Cambodia believes that it requires top political priority in an approach that brings together all stakeholders to support region-wide initiatives.
II- ASEAN Internal Cooperation
As our theme in this Summit “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”, our approach should therefore focus on “ASEAN integration” and on “people and community” in order to attain our ultimate goal of an ASEAN Community, which consists of the three pillars namely, the ASEAN Security Community (ASC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). Toward this goal, I believe that we must focus our attention on the successful implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) and carrying out our commitment to implement measures and activities under theVientiane Action Programme (VAP) 2004-2010, that we laid out last year.
These are the key toward achieving a common goal of developing an ASEAN Community by the year 2020 where its members would co-exist in peace, stability and prosperity, and their people would live in harmony, sharing one identity based on common principles and shared value. To this end, I welcome the initiative to establish an Eminent Person Group (EPG) to work on an ASEAN Charter in order to facilitate community building efforts.
We recognize that the global and regional economic and political environment has changed and is constantly changing that requires ASEAN and its community building efforts to evolve and adapt to these changes and challenges. In moving towards an ASEAN community, Cambodia believes that an appropriate institutional framework of ASEAN is needed in order to meet the challenges of realizing an ASEAN community. Thus, the establishment of ASEAN Charter presents a crucial step in developing a legal and institutional framework, rules and norms, principles governing relationships between ASEAN members, as well as ASEAN goals and objectives.
Nevertheless, I believe that the ASEAN Charter that we are preparing should be comprehensive and having a clear vision for the future. Thus, we should give ample time to the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group to come up with recommendations for leaders’ consideration.
III- ASEAN External Relations
ASEAN has become a gravitational center, which defines geo-political and geo-economic relationships with countries in East Asia and the world. To further strengthen ASEAN’s geopolitical importance, we should continue a two-tracked approach by building our international relations on both bilateral and multilateral basis.
In this regard, we must set clear rules for our engagement with the Plus Three countries, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia within the framework of the Plus Three and East Asian mechanisms. More than ever, ASEAN external relations will define the dimension and the place for ASEAN in the new political and economic configuration of East Asia. Managing relations between ASEAN as a grouping and individual states is crucial for further advancement of ASEAN as a community.
I trust that we have much to benefit from maintaining ASEAN’s role as the driving force behind the ASEAN+3 and East Asian processes. In the same vein, the ASEAN Community should be at the core of the East Asia Community.
Cambodia believes that the East Asia Summit is a positive development for the region and the world given its inclusive and transparent process. We are convinced that the summit will be a vital new forum that will contribute to peace, security, stability and development of the region and the world at large. Thus, we would like to see the summit plays a key role in fostering strategic dialogue and promoting cooperation in political and security issues, and promoting economic development in the region and deeper cultural understanding among our people.
I am pleased that ASEAN engagement with the Republic of Korea and Russian Federation has opened an exciting era of bright cooperation with the signing at this Summit of the “Framework Agreement on the ASEAN-ROK Economic Cooperation Agreement” and the “Joint Declaration of the Heads of States/Governments of ASEAN and the Russian Federation on Advanced and Comprehensive Partnership”, which will serve as the reference map in our joint journey toward sub-regional cooperation.
I am also pleased to note that, in this summit, we will adopt the “ASEAN-ROK Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation Partnership” and the “Comprehensive Programme of Action to Promote Cooperation between the Russian Federation and ASEAN 2005-2015”.
Building upon this good start, Cambodia would like to support a participation of the Russian Federation in the next East Asia Summit. I am of the view that an East Asia Summit should be held biennially while we continue to hold the ASEAN Plus Three Summit annually. Moreover, all of us should promote implementation of short and medium measures recommended by the East Asia Study Group to make them materialized as projected in order to create an East Asia Community in the long run.
Finally, I would express once again my strong hope that the documents and agreements to be signed during our 11th ASEAN Summit will form a comprehensive framework for close and deepened cooperation that will pricelessly contribute to the transformation of the political and economic landscape of Southeast Asia into zones of economic growth, social progress and prosperity for our peoples.