Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attended a ceremony to mark the 43rd ASEAN founding anniversary and the 15th year of Vietnam’s accession to the bloc in Hanoi on August 7, highlighting achievements, values and important role of the association.

“ASEAN is the top important element in maintaining peace, security and cooperation for development in the region,” he said in his opening speech, adding that the bloc plays the role of a driving force in promoting cooperation and linkage in East Asia, particularly in economics and trade.

With its strategic geographical position in the region as well as its open policies and great contributions, ASEAN has become an indispensable partner of major countries and centres in the world, he stressed.

In his speech, the Prime Minister recalled the association’s growing-up and unceasing developments over the past 43 years, affirming its important role for peace, stability, mutual understanding and trust in the region.

“Results of ASEAN cooperation, both within the bloc and with outside partners, have created an important material premise for the association to deepen and expand regional connectivity in the subsequent stage and to raise its international role and position,” he said.

To further enhance regional cooperation in the future, the PM said ASEAN needs to continue its efforts to maintain regional peace and security, appropriately deal with latent risks that might cause unrests.

Regarding economic connectivity, he said the biggest requirement is the effective implementation of existing agreements. Therefore, relevant countries need to make strong commitments and efforts on liberalisation and opening market to remove barriers to the regional economic connectivity, particularly protectionism.

Socio-culturally, ASEAN needs to accelerate the goal of building a Socio-Cultural Community, thus serving and bettering the people’s life, he added.

At the ceremony, Prime Minister Dung also emphasised Vietnam’s contributions to the association since joining it 15 years ago.

Accession to ASEAN has brought Vietnam important and practical benefits, supporting the country’s security and development, he said.

As a proactive, positive and responsible member in the ASEAN family, Vietnam will spare no effort to successfully build the ASEAN Community by 2015, first of all to fulfill its role of the ASEAN Chair in 2010 in line with the theme “Toward the ASEAN Community: from Vision to Action”, the PM stressed.

“Vietnam has and will continue to join hands with other ASEAN members, friend countries and partners to strive for an ASEAN Community of unity, integrity and prosperity, for a Southeast Asia and an East Asia of peace, stability, cooperation and development," he pledged.

On this occasion, ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan spoke highly of Vietnam’s contributions to ASEAN’s achievements.

Vietnam has shown that ASEAN is an important element in its external policy, and its priority of raising the bloc’s prestige and position on the international arena this year, the ASEAN chief said.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam./.