Vietnam on Thursday held flag-raising ceremonies in its two biggest cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to mark a historic event for the country and nine others in the Southeast Asian region.
The ceremonies to celebrate the official establishment of the ASEAN Community were organized at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi and at Bach Dang Wharf in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
ASEAN, short for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Speaking at the ceremony in the capital city, the ministry’s officials and attended by ambassadors and representatives of ASEAN countries in Vietnam, Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said it was a moment of historic significance to all ASEAN member countries.
The formation of the ASEAN Community is the result of regional nations striving for nearly half a century, the Vietnamese minister said.
Effort exerted for the sake of peace, friendship, cooperation and development for all the peoples in Southeast Asia is the decisive factor leading to the success of ASEAN today, Minister Minh said.
The launch of the ASEAN Community will take cooperative relations to a new height, which will ensure the legitimate interests of the member states and assert the central role of the grouping following a rising trend in increased cooperation in the region, he added.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Minh, there will be many challenges on the path ahead as well as much work to do for the ASEAN Community.
But he is confident that the ASEAN Community will move forward steadily, completing all of its objectives in building a peaceful, stable, self-reliant, and intensively integrated community which can effectively cope with challenges and be a constructive player in the global arena.
In Ho Chi Minh City, a flag-hoisting ceremony to welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Community was formally organized at Bach Dang Wharf, District 1.
Vietnamese soldiers wait for orders to hoist the ASEAN flag during a ceremony at Bach Dang Wharf, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City on December 31, 2015 to mark the establishment of the ASEAN Community. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The event was joined by the leaders of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Council, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee, the Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, and representatives of the consulate generals of ASEAN countries.
The establishment of the ASEAN Community is an important milestone of Southeast Asia, reflecting the general awareness and commitment of ASEAN member countries in boosting their relations, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in a speech marking the official launch of the community on Thursday.
“Today, together with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, we are delighted to welcome the advent of the ASEAN Community, a 600-million-strong culturally and traditionally diverse community with combined GDP reaching US$2.6 trillion,” PM Dung said.
The prime minister also confirmed that during 20 years of relationship with ASEAN, Vietnam has seriously fulfilled commitments and obligations as a member, and has made many important contributions to the development and growth of the bloc.
Vietnam’s great achievements in economic transformation and socio-economic development as well as its elevated international position play a significant role in the robustness and elevation of the ASEAN status, PM Dung said.