ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi at the event (Source: VNA)
 
Jakarta (VNA) – The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia on August 8 marking the 51st founding anniversary of the bloc. 

Speaking at the event, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi stressed that in the future, the regional grouping needs to promote closer connectivity among member states and strive to maintain peace, neutralism and prosperity in the region. 

He suggested that the bloc strengthen its centralism as well as improve ties with people and connectivity, which, he said, will facilitate multifaceted cooperation, including in economy, politics-security, socio-culture. 

As Indonesia is suffering from the impact of a recent earthquake, he said the secretariat and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management are ready to support the country in the wake of the disaster in the spirit of a united ASEAN. 

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said ASEAN’s role and contributions to peace have gone beyond Southeast Asia. In its 51st year, the bloc will continue the path towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region. 

According to her, unity is a crucial factor to help ASEAN maintain its central role. 

ASEAN must actively contribute to strategic issues in the region, including Indo-Pacific issue, she said, adding that focusing on the people and increasing ASEAN connectivity are very important. 

She thanked neighbouring countries for assisting Indonesia in overcoming the consequences of the earthquake that hit Lombok island in West Nusa Tenggara province on August 5. 

On the occasion, the third ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day was held and the EU-ASEAN Blue Book 2018 debuted. 

The event aimed to raise awareness of scholarship and development cooperation opportunities for ASEAN and European Union member states as well as enhance bilateral collaboration in education. 

Over 20 exhibitors and member states discussed scholarship opportunities at the event.-VNA