Myanmar Hosts ASEAN Summit for the First Time

24th ASEAN SUMMITNay Pyi Taw – Tomorrow will mark another milestone in Myanmar’s history as it hosts the 24th ASEAN Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, the country’s administrative and political capital. This will be  the first time  Myanmar  hosts an ASEAN  Summit since joining the Association  in 1997.

President Thein Sein will be welcoming his counterparts, Heads of State/Government  from the other nine Member States for their annual Summit on May 11 to be held at the newly-built Myanmar International Convention Center.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh expressed optimism about Myanmar’s ability to provide leadership to the Association at this critical stage of ASEAN’s Community building. Minh said “Myanmar’s chairmanship comes amidst the country’s on-going democratization and reform process which has been enjoying strong support from ASEAN Member States and the international community at large.” He added “ASEAN is committed to extending all necessary assistance and cooperation to ensure the accomplishment of Myanmar’s chairmanship. Myanmar’s success is ASEAN’s success.”

As Chair of ASEAN for 2014, President Thein Sein will preside over the meetings of ASEAN Leaders and theirs with sectoral groups such as the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, civil society, and youth leaders from the region. Mindful of the regional bloc’s objective of establishing a three-pillared politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible Community next year – one that is people-oriented and people centered,   Myanmar’s theme for its Chairmanship of ASEAN is “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community.”

Ensuring that the implementation of action lines for establishing the ASEAN Community 2015 are on track will be a top priority on the Summit’s Agenda. The ASEAN Heads of State/Government will also exchange views on current regional and international issues. This Summit will be preceded by Ministerial and Senior Officials preparatory meetings which will take place as well in Nay Pyi Taw.

It is expected that the 24th Summit will pick up from the legacy of the last Summit in Brunei where the Leaders enunciated the need to draw up ASEAN’s post-2015 vision. ASEAN Secretary-General Minh said  “Geography has put ASEAN in a unique bridging position between the great Asian powers and it will continue to assert its centrality in the evolving regional architecture.” He emphasised that “ the ASEAN Community will leverage this position to maintain peace and stability in the region which are requisite ingredients for narrowing the development gaps within and between ASEAN Member States.”

ASEAN is nearing the homestretch of its implementation of the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community which brings together the ten Member States as a single market by the end of 2015. Despite the publicized challenges, ASEAN has made it clear that the ASEAN Economic Community will push through as planned and that it has addressed  80% of required action lines altogether. As the region gears up for ASEAN Community 2015, various socio-cultural cooperation initiatives are being implemented by Member States in the areas of education, health, cross-border pollution control  and disaster management, among others.

ASEAN was established in 1967 by the five founding members , namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Later, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia joined making up what is now the ten-Member- State Association. The Summit is the association’s highest policy-making body and the Chairmanship is rotated in alphabetical order  among the Member States every year.