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Indonesian President Jokowi calls for ASEAN to emerge as global “epicenter of growth” at 56th Anniversary Celebration

Indonesian President Jokowi marked ASEAN’s 56th anniversary, emphasizing peace and prosperity.

He urged leaders to enhance ASEAN’s relevance, making it an “epicenter of growth” benefiting the region and beyond, highlighting its economic strengths and global trust.



INDONESIA – Indonesian President Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi, attended the 56th-anniversary celebration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday (8 Aug) at the Nusantara Hall in the ASEAN Secretariat Building in Jakarta.

In his address, President Jokowi reiterated the original purpose of ASEAN’s formation 56 years ago – to create a region of peace and prosperity.

He emphasized the organization’s commitment to turning Southeast Asia into a peaceful, stable, and prosperous region.

“Today, 56 years ago, ASEAN was established with the determination to make Southeast Asia a peaceful, stable, and prosperous region. Today, I want us to reaffirm that spirit and determination,” said the President.

President Jokowi expressed his belief that by uniting all member countries, ASEAN can effectively confront the challenges of the global dynamics, particularly at a time when the global economy is still recovering, and rivalries are intensifying.

“Epicenter of growth”

He highlighted ASEAN as an example of harmonious diversity, where differences among nations do not hinder the realization of ASEAN’s goals and ambitions.

Furthermore, President Jokowi called upon ASEAN leaders to maintain the relevance of the organization and transform ASEAN into a center of growth. He emphasized that ASEAN should become an “epicenter of growth” that benefits the people of the region and the world.

He outlined ASEAN’s strengths, including economic growth, demographic bonuses, and the world’s trust in ASEAN as a region with optimal economic opportunities.

President Jokowi stressed that this positive momentum should be harnessed to shape ASEAN’s future as a global anchor of peace, stability, and prosperity. He set the vision of making ASEAN the focal point of worldwide growth.

In preparation for the 43rd ASEAN Summit to be held in September, President Jokowi unveiled Indonesia’s intention to lay a robust foundation for ASEAN.

He aimed to bolster ASEAN’s capacity to confront challenges, respond to dynamics, and maintain its central role. Indonesia’s chairmanship also involved pushing for the resolution of the Myanmar conflict through the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.

Analyst explores ASEAN’s historic resilience and Indonesia’s strategic leadership amidst complex challenges

Ronaliansyah, an observer of economics, politics, and defense, analyzed the significance of ASEAN and the surrounding issues. He highlighted the historical context of ASEAN’s establishment amid the Cold War and the organization’s continued existence as an oasis of stability and peace in a turbulent world.

The present landscape, Ronaliansyah argued, brings new challenges similar to those faced during ASEAN’s inception, especially in the context of the South China Sea dispute.

The complex and rigid nature of the current challenges involves not only political and security aspects but also economic, social, health, humanitarian, and environmental issues that intersect with global concerns.

“Despite these complexities, we should appreciate Indonesia’s leadership in ASEAN during its one-year chairmanship. Under Indonesia’s guidance, ASEAN has proven its strategic role regionally and internationally.”

This was evident from the outcomes of the 42nd ASEAN Summit held in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), a few months ago. The indicators of this success were reflected in several conclusions presented by President Joko Widodo.

Key conclusions of the 42nd ASEAN Summit

Firstly, addressing matters important to the people gained the leaders’ attention, including safeguarding migrant workers and victims of human trafficking. President Jokowi urged ASEAN nations to take decisive action against the primary perpetrators.

Secondly, concerning the Myanmar conflict, President Jokowi asserted that violations of humanitarian values cannot be tolerated. The Five-Point Consensus mandated ASEAN to engage with all stakeholders.

Inclusivity needs to be strongly upheld by ASEAN as its credibility is at stake. President Jokowi emphasized the importance of ASEAN unity, stating that division would make it easy for external parties to fragment ASEAN. He reiterated his confidence that no ASEAN nation desires such a scenario.

Thirdly, there was a focus on strengthening economic cooperation among ASEAN nations.

According to President Jokowi, this aligns with the goal of ASEAN centrality to enhance its strength and self-reliance. Additionally, the implementation of local currency transactions and digital payment connectivity between member states was agreed upon for reinforcement.

President Jokowi attended the 56th ASEAN Anniversary Celebration in Jakarta on Tuesday (8 Aug). (Photo: Public Relations of the Cabinet Secretariat/Jay)

However, Ronaliansyah also noted the practical challenges of implementing these conclusions.

While the first conclusion related to people’s interests may be feasible, the second, concerning the Myanmar conflict, has seen limited progress.

In fact, two years have passed without any progress on this consensus. The public perceives that the military junta in Myanmar is disregarding and even demeaning the outcome of this consensus, as they have not opened any space for external parties to engage in dialogue within their country.

Additionally, the implementation of local currency transactions and digital payment connectivity raised questions about practicality and feasibility.

Safeguarding Southeast Asia’s neutrality amid US-China power rivalry

In essence, the 42nd ASEAN Summit aimed to maintain Southeast Asia’s neutral zone amid the power rivalry between the United States and China.

The ongoing political rivalry in the Indo-Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea, has led to the emergence of alliances such as The Quad (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), an informal alliance comprising the US, Japan, India, and Australia; and AUKUS, an alliance comprising the US, UK, and Australia, with potential implications for regional stability.

Within this geopolitical landscape, the key strategic message from the ASEAN Summit is the primary premise of “Unity among ASEAN nations.”

While the future dynamics in the Indo-Pacific remain uncertain, ASEAN, particularly Indonesia, is regarded as the center of excellence in a region that continues to attract global powers.

The key strategic message from the 42nd ASEAN Summit is unity among ASEAN nations to navigate these complex dynamics and maintain the region’s stability.

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