The foreign ministers from the ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in Bali, Indonesia, on July 19 for their 44th meeting (AMM 44).

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the meeting, stressing the significance of AMM 44 with the ASEAN Summit and East Asia Summit (EAS) scheduled for later this year in Indonesia.

He spoke highly of the consensus and determination of member countries toward the goal of building the ASEAN Community by 2015 – a community for people and democracy – through efforts to implement the roadmap for the ASEAN Community, regulations in the ASEAN Charter, to strengthen solidarity and cooperation among the bloc, helping raise the capacity of regional recovery and development while taking the decisive role in the region.

The President emphasised regional issues of common concern, including the East Sea issue and the situation between Thailand and Cambodia .

“ASEAN’s first ever Declaration on the South China Sea [the East Sea ] was issued long ago – in 1992. It took another 10 years before ASEAN and China could agree on the Declaration of Conduct. And yet, 9 years later, we still have not finalised the guidelines of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea [the East Sea ]. Things do not necessarily have to be this slow.

“I ask the Foreign Ministers’ meetings to step up its efforts, to complete that last mile on this important confidence-building document. We need to send a strong signal to the world that the future of the South China Sea [the East Sea ] is a predictable, manageable and optimistic one. And we need to finalise that long overdue guidelines because we need to get moving to the next phase, which is identifying elements of the Code of Conduct. The more we are able to do this, the better we can manage the situation in the South China Sea [the East Sea ]. I am sure that soon we will be able to commence discussion on a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea [the East Sea ],” he said.

Themed, “The ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations”, AMM 44 focused discussions on the roadmap and measures to accelerate the building of the ASEAN Community on three pillars by 2015, how to promote the ASEAN role in strengthening peace, security and stability in the region as well as on the world.

They also discussed the enhancement of regional economic recovery capacity in the context of the global economy recovery from financial crisis and the emergence of Asian economies as a main driving force of growth for the global economy.

ASEAN FMs also dealt with the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), preparations for the 19th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, the establishment of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, and considered the ASEAN single visa proposal.

They were expected to issue AMM 44’s joint communique, the Chairman’s Statement of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Chairman’s Statement of ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings with partners (ASEAN+3, ASEAN+1 and EAS), and the Statement on the 15 th anniversary of Russia-ASEAN dialogue relations./.