Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has hailed the formation of the ASEAN Community as a historic milestone in the regional connectivity process in Southeast Asia.

Following is the translated version of his speech on television welcoming the establishment of the ASEAN Community on December 31:

“Today, at the moment between 2015 and the new year 2016, together with the member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), we joyfully welcome the formation of the ASEAN Community, which has a combined population of over 600 million, with dynamic economies and a total GDP of 2.6 trillion USD, and is a community with diverse cultures and rich identities and traditions.

This is a historic milestone in the regional connection process in Southeast Asia, demonstrating the ASEAN member countries’ common awareness and resolve to lift their connectivity and cooperation to a new height, for the common interest of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Weathering ups and downs and differences, the ASEAN Community today is the common house of the great family of the Southeast Asian nations. ASEAN has grown up, strengthened and reaped a number of enormous achievements after almost five decades of development towards the goals of peace and affluence of the regional countries. It is stepping up the intensive connectivity on all the three pillars of politics-security, economy, and culture-society.

Overcoming challenges during the course of development, ASEAN has brought important and practical benefits to its members and strongly affirmed the value of solidarity and principles of consensus and unity. ASEAN’s central role in the region, especially the security architecture, has received cooperation and support of the international community, especially ASEAN’s dialogue partners including major powers in the world.

Being aware that the building of the ASEAN Community is a continuous and long-term process, the bloc has set up the Vision 2025 which affirms all the member nations’ determination to continue consolidating and deepening the ASEAN connectivity, and build a rule-based and truly people-oriented ASEAN Community that ensures people’s rights and interests, has extensive relations with partners, and gains an increasingly important role and status in the region and the world.

As a member since 1995, Vietnam has actively engaged in the development of ASEAN, helping realise the idea of founding an integrated ASEAN community with 10 members being Southeast Asian countries. Joining ASEAN is a strategic decision, the first significant landmark in Vietnam’s process to implement the policy of multilateralisation and diversification of external relations and international integration.

During the two-decade ASEAN membership, under the motto of “proactive, active and responsible” participation, Vietnam has seriously fulfilled the commitments and obligations of a member country while making important contributions to the grouping’s development and strength which have been recognised by countries both inside and outside the region. At the same time, Vietnam’s achievements in its Doi moi (renewal) and socio-economic development as well as its growing international standing also contributed greatly to strengthening the ASEAN and raising its status.

In the time ahead, to successfully integrate into ASEAN with a greater role and status, Vietnam must strongly bring into play internal strength and creativity, work together to overcome all difficulties and challenges, make the best use of opportunities to achieve rapid and sustainable development, and bring practical benefits for people. Vietnam will seriously carry out the commitments to integration and cooperate with other member nations to successfully execute the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

To welcome the official establishment of the ASEAN Community and the new year 2016, on behalf of the Vietnamese Government and people, I send the best wishes to the Governments and peoples of the ASEAN member countries.

I believe that with our joint efforts, the ASEAN Community will strongly develop, deliver great benefits to its people and member countries, and play an increasingly important role towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region."- VNA