Connected for a better future Southeast

Asian Nations jointly celebrated in Prague

Text: M.Zisso; Photo: Archive

H.E. AMBASSADOR EDUARDO R. MEÑEZ Chair of the Committee greeted everyone in the name of the member countries. The highlight of the event was a fashion show of tradition dresses from ASEAN countries with very surprising models – the Ambassadors, their spouses, and other members of the Embassies.

Director General Kateřina Sequensová, Director Helena Koenigsmarková,
H.E. Most Reverend….Corps in Prague, Excelllencies and Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable Guests. Good afternoon.

I have the honor to represent and celebrate, as Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Prague (ACP), our joint commemoration of the 56th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

We know that for some of you in the audience, especially the diplomats and those involved in foreign or international relations, there may be familiarity with our regional group. But for those who may only know about our countries individually, it is our hope that today’s event will enlighten you on the shared aspirations and ambitions of our region, similar to what the European Union has been pursuing, albeit here in Europe for a longer time and with deeper integration.

The video message you just saw provides a glimpse of what ASEAN represents across the political-security realm, our region’s economic significance, and our sociocultural cooperation, especially in relation to the Czech Republic and the EU as a whole.

It is the ASEAN Committee in Prague’s shared objective, through joint activities such as today, to broaden and deepen the general public’s knowledge and understanding of ASEAN. We have several events lined up, all designed to expose the various sectors of Czech society to issues that will bring us together for a better future. We hope to impress upon you, through these activities, the idea of ASEAN Centrality here in Central Europe, and remind you of the Indonesian Chair’s theme this 2023, “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.”

ASEAN matters to its 700 million citizens; it matters to their safety, security, and prosperity; and it matters towards the sustainability of their resources and environment for continued growth and development.

ASEAN also matters to regional and global citizens who rely on supply chains that ensure the provision of resource inputs to manufacturers; who depend on secure maritime lanes to facilitate the shipment of goods to trading destinations; and who seek peace and stability to expand economic opportunities.

ASEAN is an epicenter of growth because through the years, regardless of the challenges, ASEAN has continued on a path of integration and growth. In essence, continuously implementing and living the vision of the founding fathers of ASEAN in 1967, that is, “to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors in the spirit of equality and partnership.” ASEAN is projected to be the fourth largest economy in the world by 2030. We are positive that we can attain this as we grew by 5.7% in 2022 due to resilient domestic consumption and thriving trade. We are expected to grow within the same range this year (4.7%) and next (5.0%) due to our economy’s resilience, demography and positive growth.

It is due to the confidence in our regional economy that foreign direct investment flows into the ASEAN grew by 5.5% or USD224.2 billion in 2022 and intra- ASEAN foreign direct investment flows increased to 12.3% in the same year.

As we mainstream the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo- Pacific and further implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, we are confident in a future that will connect us, ASEAN and the Czech Republic and ASEAN and the European Union, towards deeper political, economic, and socio-cultural cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s event also serves as the opening of the exhibit entitled “Woven Identities: Clothing Traditions of ASEAN” which we have complemented with a short festival of fashion and, of course, our regional cuisine. While there are six resident ASEAN embassies in Prague, our exhibit will show the traditional attire of all ten ASEAN member countries over the next two weeks. We would like to thank the Museum of Decorative Arts, through Dr. Helena Koenigsmarkova, for supporting this event.

We would also wish to welcome and thank our Guest of Honor, MFA Director General for Non-European Countries, Economic and Development Cooperation, Ambassador Kateřina Sequensová, who just returned to Prague from Den Haag and assumed her position in the ministry.

On a personal note, I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Ambassador Jana Šedivá who has also recently returned from her posting in Manila and who is known among us ASEAN Ambassadors here as being previously involved in our region within the MFA. It is also important to mention that we have a new Chargé d’Affaires from Myanmar, Mr. Htuann Naung, who just arrived yesterday in time to join our group for today’s festivities.

Once again, thank you on behalf of all the ASEAN Heads of Mission and personnel in Prague, and please enjoy the program.