ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh speaks at the ceremony (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – The Secretariat of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) hosted a ceremony at its headquarters in
Jakarta, Indonesia, on August 11 to celebrate the bloc’s 50th founding
anniversary (August 8).

The event was attended by Indonesian President
Joko Widodo, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh and Deputy
Secretaries-General, the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Malaysia, along
with a number of officials from ASEAN member states, and representatives of
international and non-governmental organisations and ASEAN’s partner countries.

Addressing the ceremony, Secretary-General Minh
said ASEAN has been strongly developing over the past five decades and becoming
an important region, contributing greatly to peace, security and prosperity in
Southeast Asia and the world.

The association has made considerable progress
to become one of the successful and effective regional organisations in terms
of regional peace and security, economic integration, and institutional
building, he noted.

However, the Secretary-General stressed that there
remain a number of challenges facing ASEAN nowadays, adding that the
association needs to continue supporting its member nations, partners, dialogue
partners and other relevant parties.

The group also needs to maintain solidarity to deal with complicated circumstances
arising during the process of regional and global development, including the
spread of extremism and terrorism, protectionism, proliferation of nuclear
weapons, and tensions of maritime disputes.

[Infographics: ASEAN at 50]

In his speech, Indonesian President Joko Widodo
urged ASEAN members to connect together more closely to improve the capacity of
responding to challenges amid weak growth of the global economy.

While conflicts have occurred in many places
around the world, ASEAN has still managed Southeast Asia as a stable region, he
said, adding that its member countries must resolve issues through dialogues
and negotiations.

The President also expressed his belief that
ASEAN, with 50 years of development, will truly bring benefits to people in
Southeast Asia.

On the sidelines of the celebration, various
activities took place such as cultural performances praising the bloc’s
solidarity and friendship, an exhibition of art works created by ASEAN artists,
and a cuisine festival that drew the participation of all ASEAN nations and
many dialogue partners such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, Canada,
Russia and New Zealand.-VNA