At the heels of the recently concluded ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN Nyan Lynn said that the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to intensify efforts towards realising the ASEAN Community by 2015, according to the ASEAN Secretariat.

Speaking on behalf of the ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, Nyan Lynn reported that overall, ASEAN has made progress with regard to the implementation of the ASEAN Community Blueprint. He added that the leaders of the 10-nation bloc are encouraged by the enhanced progress in external relations as well as greater solidarity among the member States.

The achievements of the plan to establish a regional community, in which the integration of the economies of ASEAN member states is a key milestone, were reviewed at the recent ASEAN summit. An average of 82.5 percent of all action lines towards the ASEAN Community have been completed or are being implemented - representing 78 percent for the political security, 79.7 percent economic and 90 percent socio-cultural pillars.

With little more than two years before 2015, the ASEAN leaders also adopted the Bandar Seri Begawan Declaration on the ASEAN Community Post-2015 Vision where they tasked relevant bodies to further articulate ASEAN’s vision of a community that is “not only politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible but also truly people-oriented, people-centered, and rules-based”.

On the political side, ASEAN reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining peace and maritime security in the South China Sea and to resolve all disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law. The leaders of ASEAN called for restraint in the conduct of activities in East Sea and said they will consult with China on the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct for all parties involved.

When asked by the media about ASEAN’s involvement in the Korean Peninsula issue, Nyan Lynn said this was only briefly deliberated at the Summit and the Leaders recommended that this be discussed in depth at the six-party talk. He reminded the audience that this issue is traditionally covered during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), usually held in July yearly and with participation from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

On the economic front, he said that “the economic initiatives undertaken under the ASEAN Community Blueprint are already changing business landscape in the region through better economic opportunities.” He cited the steady growth of GDP in the region as well as the flow of foreign direct investment to ASEAN in the last few years.

With regard to the socio-cultural pillar, the leaders welcomed a recommendation by environment ministers from ASEAN to establish the ASEAN Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System to address trans-boundary haze pollution issues. At the Summit, they also adopted declarations on non-communicable diseases and violence against women and children.

One of the highlights of the last ASEAN Summit in Brunei was the turn-over of Chairmanship to Myanmar who for the first time will assume leadership of this regional organization beginning on January 1, 2014.

According to the Deputy Secretary General, President of Myanmar Thein Sein has committed to prioritise the narrowing of development gap, climate change adaptation, food and energy security, as well as human rights when Myanmar takes the leadership of ASEAN.

Nyan Lynn confirmed that the leaders of ASEAN were confident that Myanmar will be able to undertake leadership of ASEAN effectively. Myanmar’s theme for its chairmanship of ASEAN is “Moving Forward in Unity Towards a Peaceful and Prosperous Community”.-VNA